The If You Like book series has featured broadly ranging cultural touchstones, from The Beatles and Metallica to Monty Python and Quentin Tarantino. Each book offers up a gumbo of other artists, films, records and other odds and ends that share a common thread with the main subject.
Dave Thompson shares his considerable knowledge of reggae and punk in the
If You Like installment on music legend Bob Marley. Marley was a culture-bending superstar and arguably one of the most influential musicians ever, regardless of genre.
It is therefore a shame that the British-born Thompson often views Marley
through a British lens, missing the man’s impact on world music and cultures and focusing solely on reggae, ska and punk.
That is the only knock against what is otherwise an enjoyable, informative read. Keep a notebook handy, because true to the form of the series, you will come across name after name of artists
who are worth exploring on their own merits.
Even the most experienced reggae fans are bound to uncover a hidden gem, but the focus is on unearthing delights for the uninitiated. These people only own one reggae album--Marley’s multimillion-selling greatest hits collection, no doubt. That disc merely scratches the surface of Marley’s work, let alone the acclaimed artists who came before and after him.
Some of the artists featured are well known in the rock spectrum--Eric Clapton, The Clash--or well known to reggae purists--Black Uhuru, Prince Buster. Even the most studious music fan should find a new wrinkle.
At just over 200 pages, this is not an encyclopedic tome but rather a simple run through the record store shelves with a friend. Thompson’s writing comes across as an enthusiastic friend excited to tell you about a long-lost Lee “Scratch” Perry recording of how
The Harder They Come is the quintessential reggae movie.
It is the perfect tone for a book that wants to introduce you to something you might like.