CLASSICS: REGGAE RE-INTERPRETATIONS (SINGLES)
I found this reggae gem a couple of years ago by accident. I don’t remember where I heard it, but let me tell you, I LOVE THIS SONG!!! 😀 Pauline Catlin, Caron Wheeler and Carol Simms came together to form Brown Sugar. I was really disappointed that Spotify did not have these three talented women in their massive library (come to think of it, it doesn’t appear that any streaming service has it). But, I’m not surprised. This song is extremely rare, so unfortunately I have to direct you to YouTube. This reggae song is too sweet not to share with you guys. Brown Sugar reinterpreted their own version of Barbara Lewis’s mega hit “Hello Stranger (1963).” Barbara’s song hit #3 on the Top 100 Charts. Now, I love Barbara’s version, but, when I heard Brown Sugar’s version of “Hello Stranger,” that was released in 1977, I went bananas! It’s so amazing how a song can be transformed with just a little bit of reggae magic. They song barely received 1.2k Shazams. However, YouTube plays I estimated over 500k.
I have another reggae gem for you guys today. I know that I probably sound like I’m complaining already, but you don’t know how much it bothers me that I can’t find chart information for many of these awesome classics. If there is a national database of some kind, I’m sure they’d charge me a bunch of money to access it. I think what I’ll start doing is sharing number of Shazams instead. It’s not chart information, but at least it may (or may not) show song’s popularity. Reggae legend Phyllis Dillon released her interpretation of a song called “Perfidia” in 1972. As my grandpa used to say with any reggae he really liked, “the song is sweet man!” 😀 Her song has been Shazam’d 28,174 times to-date. It is one of my most favorite so song from Phyllis. If I’m not mistaken, “Perfidia” comes from the Spanish word “Perfidy,” which means someone or something that cannot be trusted. It was written by Alberto Domínguez, and first recorded by a very famous musician named Xavier Cugat in 1939. The song instantly became a huge hit. Linda Ronstadt also did a beautiful version of the song as well; but I never heard her sing it in English tho.
I have another great reinterpretation for you today. Reggae sensation Barry Biggs rerecorded a smash #1 hit written by the legendary Kashif, for legendary singer Evelyn Champagne King; the song is called “Love Come Down.” I love Biggs version of “Love Come Down,” and the background music is so different, you couldn’t tell that it as Kashif’s song, until Biggs started singing the lyrics. Biggs turned this hot dance disco, in to a smooth, groove, reggae song. To my understanding, his version of the song hit number 5 in the Netherlands. I could not find any further chart information I’m pretty sure it had to rank high in the UK.
Does anyone remember a very talented reggae artist by the name of Hortense Ellis? She is the sister of legendary Alton Ellis. Interesting fact, her and her brother often toured together early in her career; they’ve also compiled an album together. One of my favorites on this album was called “Willow Tree (1977).” This was actually a very popular song, and have been song by many many artists. Hortense got her break after numerous performances on a television talent show in Jamaica. The show eventually earned her a silver cup in 1964; and was dubbed Jamaica’s best female vocalist. She continued to perform in talent competitions and won more awards and accolades.
There’s a beautiful classic American song she reinterpreted, and I think it’s absolutely beautiful how she sang it. It’s called “Down The Aisle,” Released in 1978, under Gordon Records. If you listen close, you’ll realize this is the same song song by American singer, the legendary Patti Labelle in 1967!! If you’re going to redo someone’s song, the oldies have always been the best!! Hortense enjoyed a very successful music career, until the late 1980s when her health started to decline. In 2000, she past away of some kind serious stomach infection.
One of my most favorite songs from Ken Boothe, is a song called “Silver Words,” and it was released in 1976. The song was originally written and performed by Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (or better known as simply Rodriquez) in 1971. Rodriquez music was extremely influential in South Africa, and it’s no surprise that a number of reggae artists loved Rodriquez work so much that they would make interpretations of their own. However, in my opinion, Ken did it the best tho. It’s a beautiful love song about a simple and uncomplicated man, who is in essence appreciative that he has found a girl who is interested in him. The words are so beautiful, and speaks of pure love and gratitude, without any set of conditions. Another beautiful favorite of mine is, “Everything I own,” which was originally written and performed by a group called “Bread” in 1972, and both happen to also be two of my many favorite songs.
It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything new from Ziggy Marley. Today, I was listening to some of my old iTunes music, and discovered a song I forgot I had. It is a cover Ziggy did (along with the “Melody Makers”), of a song called “Drive (1984),” and it was originally produced & performed by a group called “The Cars.” “The Cars” song peaked at #3 on the American Billboards. Now, I always loved this song, but I absolutely LOVE the way Ziggy sang his version. It is one of the very few true romantic reggae songs (from 2000 on) in my opinion. Ziggy did the cover “Drive (2004)” as part of a sound track, to the movie called “50 First Dates (2004),” starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Unfortunately, because of licensing, Spotify doesn’t have Ziggy’s original cover, the copyright holder wants you to buy the entire sound track album for this song. So this is one of the rare cases I shared a YouTube link. If you want to listen to “The Cars” original version, you can listen here with Spotify.