London, UK @ Tabernacle 29/8/2013
London Premiere of Bunny Lee’s I Am The Gorgon.
King Tubby project planned next
This month veteran producer and mid 70s dancehall ruler Bunny Striker Lee celebrated his 72nd Birthday. The celebrations continued on August 29th at Notting Hill’s Tabernacle with the premiere of Diggory Kenrick’s documentary I Am The Gorgon – based on Bunny’s book with Noel Hawkes; Reggae Going International.
An enticing edit centred around Lee’s naming of the “Flying Cymbals” sound and role in King Tubby’s pioneering of dub had been shown two weeks before at the One Love Festival. But the Tabernacle was the first chance to see real thing.
Walking the quiet streets from Westbourne Park station, only the pink signs directing people to the Notting Hill Carnival and a few stray steel barriers would tell you the preceding weekend’s giant street party had even happened.
However, on arrival at the venue lots of the key performers and characters from the carnival and the wider reggae community were still there.
Bunny and his son Edward Junior were joined by Dennis Alcapone, Locksley Gichie, Winston Reedy, B B Seaton, Norman Grant from Twinkle Brothers, Tappa Zukie, the Blackstones, Spider-Man from Jah Observer Sound, Solution Sound, Ital Horns and many more.
Inside the venue a medley of Bunny’s hits including My Conversation and Russians Are Coming from the rocksteady era and Wet Dream, Bangarang and A Dance in Greenwich Farm from the reggae age played as the luminaries and fans took their seats.
The screening was optimistically due to start at 19:30. At 19:51 “the Gorgon” entered in a beige suit and his skipper’s hat to vast applause.
“Thanks for coming along for Bunny” said Frank from Jamaican Recordings who helped fund the film – promising a Q&A with Striker afterwards where “He’ll answer anything”.
Then for 90 minutes we were transported back in time.
In the movie, narrator Dennis Alcapone leads a veritable army of talking heads from Bunny’s past and present including U Roy, Johnny Clarke, Cornel Campbell, John Holt, King Jammy and Derrick Morgan.
Director Diggory Kenrick has combined their reminiscences with vintage stills, music from Bunny’s catalogue, modern footage of live concerts and Bunny being driven through the places he used to go. The assemblage communicates a dense period of history without simplifying or becoming overly didactic.