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Penny Reel

Penny Reel

Penny Reel is one of the UK's reggae foundation writers. His work in the '70s and '80s was and still is a tremendous inspiration. His interviews and articles in publications like Echoes, NME, Sounds and Small Axe gave the readers real insight into a music that was and still is misunderstood. His book Deep Down With Dennis Brown was published in 2001.

List of articles in the library by artist

Adam & The Ants: Adam's Xmas Antomime

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, January 1982

Adam & The Ants: Theatre Royal, London ...

Aswad: 100 Club, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, May 1978

ALL ROADS LEAD to the 100 Club in London's West End every Thursday night, where – "in tune to Silver Camel Sound" – the weekly ...

Barrington Levy: Electric Ballroom, Camden, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, April 1984

DEADLEE! ...

Bethnal: Crash Landing In N17

Report and Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, November 1978

BETHNAL, who by virtue of their multi-national background can't help accumulating 'political' overtones in these Rock Against Racism days, talk to PENNY REEL about the ...

Black Slate: 100 Club, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, January 1978

HAVE THE Black Slate group been taking their cue from Glitterbest Promotions? ...

Black Slate: Music Machine, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, July 1978

THE ACCOMPLISHED Black Slate roadshow has reached just about the limit of its capabilities without coursing a drastic change of direction. ...

Boney M: Nightflight To Venus

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, August 1978

IN THE words of the legend inscribed on t-shirts won by WEA pinheads at the time of the Hansaettes' second album, Love For Sale – ...

Boney M: By The Rivers (well…sands, beaches, coves, quays and bays) Of Babbacombe

Report by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, July 1978

TORBAY OR NOT Torbay – that is the question! I am standing at the barrier of Platform 2, Paddington, one chilly Saturday morning expressing Brandoesque ...

Dennis Brown: When Two Systems Clashed at Club Four Aces: A snapshot of London reggae culture in the early '70s

Book Excerpt by Penny Reel, Deep Down With Dennis Brown, February 2002

Penny Reel was the pre-eminent reggae writer of reggae's '70s heyday, contributing regularly to NME, Black Echoes and other publications. His Deep Down With Dennis ...

Eric Burdon: Rocco The Rockist

Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, November 1982

IN THE final frame of Comeback, rock hero Rocco is shot dead as he leaves a Berlin stage, which is to begin at the end ...

Junior Byles: From the Dread Depths of Despair

Report by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, February 1976

JUNIOR BYLES emerged as the supreme talent of the year, if not of the decade. His moving 'Bur O Boy' was without peer. ...

The Chords: Live At The Rainbow 1980 (Unicorn)

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, November 1986

IT WAS QUITE laughable to see how pathetically misinformed were all parties concerned in the great mod revival swindle of 1980. But then it was ...

The Cimarons: 100 Club, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, May 1978

FIVE LIVE Cimarons is generally cognate with an agreeable evening's entertainment, such as this duly proved. ...

The Cimarons, Sham 69: Sham 69 & The Cimarons: The West Country Invasion Starts Here

Report and Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, November 1978

IT WOULD appear that someone's got it in for Jimmy Pursey and Sham 69. You see they're planting stories in the press to the effect ...

Gil Scott-Heron, John Cooper Clarke: Gil Scott-Heron/John Cooper Clarke: Brixton Academy, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, March 1984

SCOTT-HERON OF THE ANTARCTIC ...

Jimmy Cliff: A Lion Out There

Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, September 1980

VETERAN JAMAICAN singer Jimmy Cliff finally achieved international status for his leading role in the seminal reggae film The Harder They Come in the early ...

Culture: Support the New Ministry of Culture

Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, July 1978

Better Living Through Roots Reggae! Harder Than The Rest! ...

Teddy Dan: United States Of Africa (Rootsman)

Review by Penny Reel, Black Echoes, December 1994

IT IS CURIOUS how, having lain dormant in reggae music throughout the length of the Eighties, Rasta ideology should once again be making its presence ...

Dillinger: Central London Polytechnic, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, February 1978

ON THIS opening night of his first full-length tour of the UK college circuit, Lester Bullocks better-known as Dillinger maintained an impressive, large and volubly ...

Dr. Alimantado: Doctor Alimantado Meets His Duppy Uptown

Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, January 1978

A DIAGNOSIS OF NEAR-DEATH ...

Dr. Alimantado: Dr Alimantado: Best Dressed Chicken In Town

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1978

INTRODUCING THE august surgeon of ital nourishment on a ten track album of selected singles dating from 1973-6. ...

Dr. Alimantado: The Curious Case of Dr. Alimantado

Profile by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, April 1976

"Ere Jah Man!""Ites!""Whadda word Babylon mean, dread?" ...

The Dubliners: The Dubliners

Review by Penny Reel, Select, September 1990

IT IS an irony that The Dubliners should have come to prominence with ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ in 1967, the same year that Dermot O’Brien’s IRA ...

Alton Ellis: Alton and Hortense Ellis: Alton and Hortense Ellis

Review by Penny Reel, Select, January 1991

THE COMMANDING voice of Alton Ellis has been a constant feature in popular Jamaican music for over a quarter of a century and his classic ...

Alton Ellis: Skabeana in Soho: Alton Ellis at Gossips, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, April 1985

ROCKING STEADILY to the dogged rhythms of Studio One spiced with ska, the crowd tonight are in appreciative mood to welcome Alton Ellis onstage, where ...

The Equators: 100 Club, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, January 1978

DURING RECENT months we have been witness to increasing media interest in the indigenous UK reggae scene, especially as focussed upon Matumbi, Black Slate, Steel ...

The Everly Brothers: Devoted: The Everly Brothers at the Royal Albert Hall

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1983

THERE'S THIS certain tension which exists between the Everly Brothers that is the genius of their music. It's as if the lyrics of such as ...

Marianne Faithfull: Child's Adventure (Island)

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, February 1983

THE NEOPSYCHE portrayed in the skirmishes related here is quite that which an unprejudiced layman – having perhaps some passing memory of tears gone by ...

The Gladiators: Trenchtown Mix Up

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1976

RED HOT IN BABYLON OR MAUVE IN THE GROVE ...

Rosco Gordon: Rosco’s Rockin’ Return

Live Review by Penny Reel, Darker Than Blue, September 2000

PENNY REEL, at the Jazz Cafe, London NW1, gets high with Rosco Gordon ...

Keith Hudson: A Better Brand Of Dub

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, January 1978

YOU MAY recall reading, a couple of years ago, an NME recommendation of Keith Hudson's Pick A Dub LP, on the now sadly defunct Atra ...

Keith Hudson: A Dread Tale

Report by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1978

ONE NIGHT I AM standing outside the Jamaican pattie shop in Portobello Road partaking of the same when a car pulls up on the street ...

Gregory Isaacs: Night Nurse (Island)

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, September 1982

IT'S SINGULAR how Gregory Isaac releases a better number of tunes as good as 'Night Nurse' over the past decade and longer, and as good ...

Gregory Isaacs: Presenting Mr Isaacs

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, August 1978

PRIOR TO the glorious advent of soulful lover Pat Kelly in more recent weeks, lean, laconic crooner Gregory Isaacs was recognised as possibly the most ...

Gregory Isaacs: Rainbow Theatre, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, September 1980

TAKE ANY moderate gathering of citizens intent on peaceable pursuit and out comes the Babylon in force. I am growing altogether more and more disgruntled ...

Linton Kwesi Johnson, Public Image Ltd: Public Image Limited; Linton Kwesi Johnson: Rainbow Theatre, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, January 1979

ON THE FIRST day of Christmas bondage bretheren and neon siteren children of the Rainbow – pace Aswad – left their parents' turkey tables en ...

Jimmy Jones: Timin' Is The Thing

Retrospective by Penny Reel, Let It Rock, May 1975

What would have happened if you and IHadn't just happened to meet?We might have spent the rest of our livesWalking down misery street. ...

Ben E. King: Here Comes The Night

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1984

WHEN, IN 1967, Ben E King asks What Is Soul?, the answer is properly Ben E King himself, although not on What Is Soul?! And ...

Ben E. King: Camden Lock

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1976

MY LAST VISIT to the quaint, cobbled pavements of Camden Lock was to see Eddie Floyd knocking on wood in standard mid-60s soul routine. Ben ...

Barrington Levy: The Mellow Canary

Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, February 1985

Here comes Barrington Levy... Penny Reel listens to the sense and sensibility, trials and tribulations of a man on the verge of international stardom. ...

The Marcels: Bom Baba Bom

Retrospective by Penny Reel, Let It Rock, February 1975

1961. Rock'n'roll was dead and buried. The Beatles weren't even a twinkle in Epstein's eye. Pop was Kenny Ball and Anne Shelton, Acker Bilk and ...

Bob Marley & the Wailers: Bob Marley: Bingley Hall, Stafford

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, July 1978

BETWEEN I AND I, a writer's relationship with his reader is a balance of equal power: the former dictates terms, but only at the latter's ...

Bob Marley & the Wailers: The Night Bob Marley Didn't Play the Bouncing Ball

Memoir by Penny Reel, Rock's Backpages, May 2003

IT IS 1973, around the time of the release of Catch A Fire, that Bob Marley And The Wailers are booked to play at Admiral ...

Bob Marley & the Wailers: The Wailers: Catch a Fire (Island)

Review by Penny Reel, International Times, May 1973

WITH THE Wailers presently heralded as the reggae band by music acclaimants, I expect to see Catch a Fire amongst those record collections where Eddie ...

Johnny Mathis: Play Misty For Me

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1984

JOHNNY MATHIS stands still long enough to move PENNY REEL at the Hammersmith Odeon. ...

Paul McCartney: Pipes Of Peace (Parlophone)

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, November 1983

CONTRARY TO current feeling here at the NME and elsewhere, I personally nurture no antagonism towards Paul McCartney, nor regard him with any of my ...

Big Jay McNeely, Young Jessie, Chuck Higgins, Willie Egan: Electric Ballroom, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, September 1983

I DOUBT WHETHER I am sufficiently qualified to pronounce on the merits or otherwise of the foregoing concert, considering I involve a substantial proportion of ...

Mighty Diamonds: Right Time

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, May 1976

THE MIGHTY DIAMONDS emerged in the wake of the resurgence of interest in Burning Spear – "I and I, son of the Most High – ...

Mighty Diamonds, U Roy: Mighty Diamonds/U Roy/Delroy Washington: Lyceum, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, September 1976

The Lyceum rockers wore dreadlocks, the Aldwych wouldn't do the Strand; the rude bwoys were on a ballroom blitz; and PENNY REEL reports on a ...

Jacob Miller, Tapper Zukie: Jamaica: Peace Conference In A Western Kingston

Report by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, March 1978

ON JANUARY 10 of this year, Samuel Dreckett — JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) Councillor for the Western Kingston district of Tivoli Gardens — entered the ...

Roy Orbison

Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, December 1980

"I MADE my first money at a medicine show. I didn't know there were such things except in movies or in films until I was ...

The Pink Fairies: Kill ’Em And Eat ’Em

Review by Penny Reel, Sounds, November 1987

A FURTHER DOSE of flash trash from the Pink Fairies, who plough a relentless psychedelic grunge underpinned by the double drum onslaught of Russell Hunter ...

The Rolling Stones: Rolling Stones in Hyde Park # 3

Memoir by Penny Reel, MOJO, July 1995

IT IS OF COURSE A memorable occasion among the many I experience during years in pursuit of musical diversion, although in truth I barely remember ...

Gil Scott-Heron: At Brixton Academy

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, 1984

A VENUE FOR MUSIC less conducive and more forlorn and wretched than this superannuated Brixton corridor called The Academy is not lightly imaginable. You would ...

Paul Simon: Graceland

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, September 1986

OF COURSE Paul Simon has always been blessed with a remarkable facility for penning eminently hummable melodies, but since the heyday of his association with ...

Leroy Smart: Ballistic Affair

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, April 1978

The Love Story Of Leroy Smart ...

Slim Smith: Memorial

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, June 1985

"Slim was a builder, soul singer, and a very good entertainer, and I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, Slim had to leave us, leave us ...

Cat Stevens: Fundamentally Speaking: Cat Stevens vs. Salman Rushdie

Comment by Penny Reel, Sounds, March 1989

AN ASPECT of the Salman Rushdie episode that particularly intrigues is the way passions have been so readily aroused. It is as if the text ...

Super Cat: Puss In Boops

Interview by Penny Reel, Music Week, January 1989

Penny Reel prowls Miller’s Terrace with Super Cat ...

Third World: 100 Club, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, November 1978

IT IS surely not coincidental that now Island seem to have relegated Bob Marley and company to the status of lampoonery with joke titled albums ...

Toots & The Maytals: Funky Kingston (Dragon)

Review by Penny Reel, International Times, June 1973

Jamaican Rock'n'roll ...

Toots & The Maytals: The Man Who Would Be God

Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, February 1976

JAH TOOTS: "...tracks on my new album? Well, there's 'Reggae Got Soul' – that's the title track, you know – 'Never Go Down', 'Dog War', ...

Toots & The Maytals: Toots and Maytals: Caribbean Vikings

Retrospective by Penny Reel, Let It Rock, December 1975

IT IS TWO YEARS since those behind the Maytals previously attempted to promote the group to a rock audience. ...

Toots & The Maytals: Toots Comes Home To Roots

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1980

Toots And The Maytals: Hammersmith Palais, London ...

Toots & The Maytals: Toots Hibbert: The Man Who Would Be God

Profile and Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, February 1976

Rasta revelations courtesy of FREDERICK "TOOTS" HIBBERT of Toots and The Maytals, who'd rather incarnate here and now than talk about old times with PENNY ...

The Tremeloes: Brian Poole And The Tremeloes: Stoke Newington Town Hall, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, March 1985

DRESSED DASHINGLY in a detergent white jerkin, black shirt and slim black slacks, wearing a white knitted tie and white plimsolls, black belt and black ...

Ruby Turner: Jewel In The Crown

Profile and Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, February 1986

IT MIGHT be late to break nationally but in this man's town at least Ruby Turner's beefy update of 'If You're Ready (Come Go With ...

The Twinkle Brothers: It Dread, It Dread, It Dread But... It Gwine Dreada

Interview by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, October 1981

THE RURAL RUNNINGS OF THE TWINKLE BROTHERS. LIFELONG COUNTRYMAN NORMAN GRANT TALKS TO PENNY REEL, COUNTRYMAN OF SIX WEEKS STANDING ...

The Twinkle Brothers: Rasta Pon Top

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, March 1976

EVER SINCE ITALIAN propagandists began spreading false rumours concerning the demise of the Emperor, Negus Ras Tafari, Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Conquering Lion ...

Delroy Wilson: Soon Gone...

Obituary by Penny Reel, MOJO, July 1995

In January, Penny Reel witnessed the last British appearance by Delroy Wilson. Here he pays tribute to the reggae ruler famously namechecked by The Clash. ...

Yellowman: Pickett's Lock, Edmonton, London

Live Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, July 1983

...

Neil Young: Everybody's Rockin (Geffen)

Review by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, August 1983

AT LEAST Neil Young has yet resisted rejoining Crosby, Stills and Nash, although this foray into rockabilly pastiche is hardly much less regressive than that. ...

List of genre pieces

Aspects of Superpop: It Will Stand

Retrospective by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, November 1979

The Minit label of New Orleans flourished during the period 1960 to 1962 and consolidated one of the cornerstones of the Superpop era. Allen Toussaint ...

Atlantic Records: Label Of 1,000 Dances

Essay by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, August 1986

ATLANTIC RECORDS was the supreme R&B label among many which flourished during the music's pre-eminence from shortly after the Second World War up to the ...

Mellow down the Mix

Memoir by Penny Reel, Black Echoes, January 1996

Penny Reel at the pool table meets a man from creation. ...

Notting Hill Carnival '86: Everybody Wet Wet Wet

Report by Penny Reel, New Musical Express, September 1986

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO I back up on my first Carnival almost by accident. ...

Reggae: The Rape of Smaug

Overview by Penny Reel, International Times, May 1973

WHITE MAKES his move. Black makes his move. White moves and Black reciprocates. Black moves and White reciprocates. The players perpetuate the game for the ...

Various Artists: King Tubby’s Fast Car (Serious Business)

Review by Penny Reel, Black Echoes, May 1990

THE MAN WHO own the Serious Business record label also drives a gleaming scarlet Mercedes-Benz sports car bearing the famous registration number JAH 50N, or ...

What Made Rizla Famous Made A Loser Out Of Me

Comment by Penny Reel, International Times, May 1974

AFTER YEARS OF shadowy unwillingness as one of the mainstays of the dope scene, Rizla and their finest quality gummed papers have finally put one ...

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