A 25-year-old Jools Holland was just transitioning from a career in music (as a member of the band Squeeze) to one in television when he visited Jamaica for a documentary which aired on the UK’s Channel 4 in 1984. Inexplicably beginning the special by emerging from the Pegasus Hotel pool in a black suit, the future late-night TV kingpin brought viewers on a tour of the Jamaican music scene circa ’84, linking up with the likes of Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru, Wailing Souls, Yellowman, Mutabaruka and (in one of his first Jamaican appearances after relocating to Europe) Lee “Scratch” Perry, and giving an animated performance of his own in the streets in Trenchtown.
There’s a lot of highlights crammed into this half-hour—it’s one of the most complete and concise documents of the Kingston reggae scene at this time— but for us three scenes in particular stand out, the first being a music video-like sequence with Dennis Brown strolling along the beach to “The Prophet Rides Again.” And then there’s the dramatic appearance of Eek-a-Mouse, stealing the show at a dancehall session with Yellowman, Massive Dread and Lee Van Cleef. And, finally, there’s the session with Riddim Twins Sly and Robbie ,at the height of their creative superpowers, recording an electro version of The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” that sounds like it could be the inspiration for Jan Hammer’s Miami Vice theme. (Hammer was a huge reggae fan, and the show used Black Uhuru’s music several times, so it’s not out of the question).
Watch below, and judge for yourself.