Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records Directed by Nicolas Jack Davies

Many music-related documentaries are being released these days and we should all be very grateful. A lot of those documentaries are informational, yes, but all kind of follow the same formula: fast-paced interviews with archived footage of whatever events the subject matter or narrator mentions.

Rudeboy
takes a slightly different approach. First, there is no narrator. The narrative is done by the musicians, producers, and people involved in the rise and fall of Trojan Records. And during those interviews, there is some archive footage here and there. But the majority of what you see is dramatic recreations of whatever story is being told. In those recreations, there is little to no dialogue and the cinematography is great.

The documentary starts in Jamaica in the ’50s, where instead of people filling a room to see a band perform, they would flock to the place with the best sound system and DJ spinning the best records. Then it takes us to the U.K. in the ’60s where two record store employees took their mutual interest in Jamaican music to the next level by starting a record label. They hit up all the producers in Jamaica to release records through Trojan, hence introducing a bunch of British youngsters to a new sound that made them want to shake their butts.

There are many great and deep interviews with folks that were around Trojan Records before day one, including Bunny Lee, Derrick Morgan, Toots Hibert, wild-man Lee “Scratch” Perry, and Roy Ellis (Symarip), who cuts quite a rug in this movie. There are also some memorable interviews with Neville Staple (The Specials), documentarian Don Letts (Big Audio Dynamite), and Pauline Black (The Selecter).

Without giving a whole lot away, in this documentary, you will learn how Millie Small put ska on the charts, what a rudeboy actually is, why politician Enoch Powell is a piece of shit, why skinheads carried around copies of Tighten Up Volume 2 under their arms, and why the staff at Trojan Records had to go out back and smash their records every once in a while.

Rudeboy
was released last year via streaming services (for some reason it’s rated NC-17 on Amazon) but has yet to get a physical release other than a soundtrack. I would be hyped to see what special features or extended interviews would exist on a DVD or Blu-ray. Or at least more footage of Roy Ellis dancing around an empty warehouse. –Rick V. (Pulse Films, pulsefilms.com)