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After 50 years the label is as iconic as ever

After 50 years the label is as iconic as ever

Island Records could be argued as one of the most influential music labels in not only the United Kingdom, but the rest of the world. Fifty years on from its small Jamaican origins, BBC4 has created an enthralling documentary on how Island has evolved and progressed into the label we know today.

Interviews with creator Chris Blackwell, Bono, Rita Marley and Cat Stevens make this a complete and satisfying ninety minutes, offering insights into signings that might otherwise be forgotten. With a huge showcase of classic performances and tracks, you’ll find yourself humming along to the hits of your generation without fail. Even if viewers are unfamiliar with the music industry, there is no reason to turn this down when the narration of Island’s history is so simple and clear.

Island Records started out as a UK import label of Jamaican ska music, but grew into a home that any creative artist could sign onto. Offering freedom and unlimited time with producers in the studio, Blackwell continuously discovered acts that resonated with the underground music scene. Hearing the stories of how Roxy Music, King Crimson, U2 and Bob Marley & The Wailers were founded one after the other is almost unbelievable and will hopefully strike a chord with the generation too young to remember Island’s beginnings.

Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records

Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records

In an age where record sales are falling and the trust of labels is diminishing, it’s refreshing to hear this heart warming story of a few men who simply loved releasing high quality music to the world. Towards the end of the programme I found myself slightly tiring with the interviewees and less interested in the artists (the signing of the Sugababes was lacklustre to say the least) but it managed to hold together until the end running time. After this fascinating documentary is Island at the BBC, which shows footage of Island artists performing at the renowned British broadcaster.

If you’re a fan of any artist signed to Island, or simply looking for something better than a game show on a Saturday night, this trip down memory lane is well worth taking.

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