Ever since Ry Cooder gathered a forgotten generation of semi- ancient Cubans to record the seminal Buena Vista Social Club album, there’s been a continual search in all corners of the world to find other ‘scenes’ that might be similarly turned into a global phenomenon. While the excellent film Rocksteady: the Roots of Reggae is following the Buena Vista blueprint almost step by step, documenting the pre-reggae music of Jamaica, a number of African artists who made their names in the 1970s have also profited from this interest in history
When Ron Sexsmith decided to ditch his rock band and become a singer-songwriter in the classic mould, it was a step that took a great deal of courage. In the late 1980s, singer-songwriters were still suffering from a severe image problem. They were seen as part of the post-1960s malaise – overgrown, would-be adolescents wallowing in egocentricity and spineless self- pity. Since the early 1990s, however, and thanks in part to Sexsmith’s sterling groundwork, singer-songwriters – the odder in looks and outlook the better – have enjoyed a renaissance. Today, Sexsmith counts artists as diverse as Steve Earle, k.d. lang and Feist among his fans, whilst Michael Bublé covered his song ‘Whatever It Takes’. The 47-year-old Canadian recorded his twelfth and latest album with legendary producer Bob Rock in Los Angeles – an experience documented in an affecting film, Love Shines.