Even now, more than 20 years after its glory days, it's extraordinary to realise that reggae has not been celebrated, or even just captured, in a raft of films. Those films where rock is the subject or the soundtrack are a dime a dozen, but reggae has really only two, "The Harder They Come" from 1972 (with the unforgettable Jimmy Cliff on the soundtrack) and this one, "Rockers", released in the UK in 1979. Back then skinny, spitting British punks had adopted (and adapted) reggae and introduced it to a much wider audience.
21 years on, the sheer life in "Rockers" has survived well. The kind of film where atmosphere is all, and narrative counts for little, this is the Jamaica-set story of a drummer, Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace (playing, like other musicians in the film, a version of himself) who, talented though he is, is mightily fed up with being ripped off by the local music business. Unable and unwilling to survive on occasional recording sessions and gigs, he opts to buy a flashy red motorbike and distribute records himself. The first result of his part-self-centred, part-idealistic efforts is a severe beating and a stolen bike.
Leroy Wallace amusingly reflects the prevalent casualness of the local men, all the more so when his determination to change things breaks through. Whether it is the uniqueness of male-bonding Jamaica-style, the ease of friendship or brittle relationships with women, "Rockers" certainly conveys the rhythms of local life, all of them matched by the (now digitally-remastered) soundtrack which features Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, Third World and Peter Tosh.