Today, I was grooving to some sounds of the late Dennis Brown. It’s been 19 years since Dennis’s death. Sometimes I still can’t rap my head as to how long it’s been. One of my very favorites from Dennis is a song he sang called “Money In My Pocket,” released in 1979 I believe. If I understand correctly, this was his first major hit that help to launch his career. The song reached #14 in the UK reggae charts. However, the song was first produced by Winston “Niney” Holness some time in 1972, and it was actually intended for another artist named Joe Gibbs. Gibbs version of “Money In My Pocket,” is an instrumental dub, which I also like very much. There are a few different versions of the song, but in my personal opinion, these two are the best out of all of them.
Love, love, love this song…. Today’s group is called The Paragons (along with Tommy McCook and The Supersonies), and their song “Only A Smiling Face,” under Trojan Records. At first, the song kind of fools you, because when you hear them sing “Only A Smiling Face,” you may automatically think it’s a beautiful love song. However, if you listen to the very short lyrics, the song is about a not so nice woman. It is interesting that, this is the only song I’ve heard that complained about a lover, but never explicitly sung what the person actually did. But whatever she was doing, must have been really messed up for two guys to leave her back to back. Of course, because it’s Caribbean/classic reggae, I can’t find any chart information. I’m not even gonna try anymore. Just trust me when I tell you it’s a hit.
There are other hits on this very album (“On The Beach With The Paragons”) as well. One song I’ve heard reinterpreted by so many reggae musicians called “Mercy Mercy.” Another favorite of mine is “The Tide Is High,” which was reinterpreted by America’s (then) biggest 70s/80s Rock band called Blonde. The song “Yellow Bird” was also a very popular song. I’ve heard many, many reinterpretations of this song; sometimes it seems as though there are a million of them. My most favorite unfortunately is the one that is out-of-print, by the steel band called Belltones, from the album “In The Mood.”
This is one of my favorite old school reggae albums, and given how rare these songs are, I am shocked that the actual album is on Spotify. It has various artists, which includes Horace Andy, Gregory Isaac, Michael Rose, my favorite singer Ken Boothe, and more…. This particular CD’s physical release was 1994. Not sure if it’s older than that, but usually there’s an album before the CD, so until I find it, I’ll stick with ’94. I think Ska fans will love “Legends Of Reggae Music.” This CD will Take you back in time, with “Rock On” by Gregory Isaac, and “Nice And Easy” by Horace Andy. Extremely rare music. The album was produced by JA Records. No doubt this is out-of-print by now. Enjoy!!
Growing up, I remember hearing this song a lot on reggae radio stations. The song is called “I Wanna Wake Up With You,” sung by the legendary reggae sensation Boris Gardiner. I thought that this was one of the sweetest, loving, and romantic reggae songs I’ve heard at the time. This was and still is, the perfect wedding song if you ask me. The song was written by Ben Peters, and the music was put together by Willie Lindo. The song was released under both Revue Records & Creole Records. Now, when I purchased this record originally in ’86, all I saw was the 12 inch versions in the store; so I don’t know if there existed an actual album; or it was released only as a single. “I Wanna Wake Up With You” hit #1 in the UK; it was the best selling album in the UK for ’86. It also reached #3 in South Africa.
I absolutely love this song! It’s from a group called “Tomorrow’s Children,” and the song is called “Bang Bang Rock Steady (1967).” This is basically a remake of Cher’s old classic “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (1966).” A second song (I’m assuming is on side B of this 45 record), is called “Rain (1967),” also happens to be a remake of the Beatles “Rain (1966).” “Tomorrow’s Children” was a great reggae group, and unfortunately there is almost no information on them to share, other than the music they’ve made, and records available. What a shame.
I have to say, I’ve never been a fan of Julian Lennon at all, with the exception of one song. When his first album came out, every rock critique expected him to be a sensational replica of his famous (then deceased) father. In 1984, Julian released an album called, “Valotte,” which I believe this was his first album. On that album there was a song called “Too Late For Goodbyes,” and the song peaked at #5, and stayed on the American Billboard charts for 17 weeks. It also reached #6 on the UK charts. This song was released about 4 years after his father’s murder, and remains to be his most successful work in his career. Unfortunately, this was the only song I ever liked from Julian. There had been a couple more songs that became chart topping hits, but I have to be honest, personally, I didn’t like any of them.
O.K. I’m going to switch gears here a little bit. It’s been a while since I posted some reggae. I want to draw your attention to a Mr. Alton Ellis, a Jamaican singer and songwriter from back in the day. He was born in 1938, and started his musical career 1959 (about the age of 21). He had a long lasting career until just before his death in 2008 (about the age of 70). One of my most favorite songs from Ellis, is a song called “I’m Still In Love,” released under the Horse label in 1977. Now, this was and still is a beautiful song. What I love about this song, it wasn’t the typical love songs we used to hear (at least American songs), you know, the “I’m sorry, and I’m begging you please” type of songs with the doom and gloom musical backgrounds. Not only is the song upbeat, but it’s very danceable and fun to listen to. Unfortunately, I’m having a huge problem finding the stats to this song. What’s even more a disappointment is that, Sean Paul remade this song with Sasha in 2002 (which by the way, I also love their version as well), and his stats are all over the net. But, barely anything about Ellis. You see what I mean about Blacks losing our history in the digital age? A legendary singer, now lost and forgotten by most. Well, anyway, check it out on Spotify. It’s a beautiful song… Enjoy.
Going back to an old school reggae album called “Right Time (1976)” with The Mighty Diamonds.” This is one of my many favorite albums from The Mighty Diamonds. The song I really love from this album is called “Why Me Black Brother Why?” I don’t even hear anybody speak of The Mighty Diamonds these days. I do recommend that old school reggae lovers seek them out. There is one other ultimate favorite album of mine; however, it is extremely hard to get. It is not available on streaming; and I only recommend the original vinyl. The reason why I recommend the vinyl, is because the CD version has a lot of re-edits, and in my opinion, it is not as good as the original album released in 1979 (unless you can find a CD with both original and “Dub.” I guarantee you, once you start playing this album, you will play it over and over, I think it’s that good. It is not often that I hear an artist, and I like their entire album! This album is called “Deeper Roots (Back to the Channel) (1979)” and you can find the vinyl version on Amazon. It was on Rhapsody and Spotify (the dub version), but the license expired. Do you see the importance of “liking” your music, and sharing them, and playing them? Don’t let our culture die. Anyway, I feel it should be a must have in your reggae collection. My favorites are “Dreadlocks Time,” “Diamonds and Pearls,” and “Bodyguard.” Below are links to the album called “Right Time (1976).”
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