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.
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.”
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.
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.