I didn’t really mean for this series to go on and on. It’s slipped a bit out of my control, but not necessarily in a bad way. The next one will be the last one; I’m 99% sure of that. Maybe 95%. Well, we’ll see.
Cloak & Dagger The Upsetters
Sadly I only have the CD reissue of this, which has a very boring cover compared to the original LP:
Wolf & Leopards Dennis Brown
This is a pretty groovy cover too:
Mr. Cop Gregory Isaacs
“The Original Release of ‘Extra Classic’ in 1976 Marked the Break Through for the ghetto Loverman with the Plaintive Voice, who was also Someone You Didn’t Mess With! the Album is a Collection of Great Singles, that Are Both Pure Lovers and Tuff Reality Tunes.” —Amazon.com “Editorial Review”
King Tubby’s Version (Please Officer) Talent Crew
In my search for information about this song, which is sparse, I came across this delightful picture of King Tubby:
Revelation Dub The Upsetters
This is of course the dub version of Max Romeo’s “War ina Babylon.”
Les Locataires Serge Gainsbourg
“Gainsbourg does reggae” probably did not sound like a promising premise at the time. But he was smart enough to actually go to Jamaica and hire top-shelf local talent, including the I Threes. I’m guessing he also invested in a garbage bag full of weed. In any case, it worked.
Kentucky Skank The Upsetters
“Kentucky Skank is a musical composition by Lee Perry, featured on his album Double Seven. It has been interpreted as Perry’s homage to KFC complete with deep frying sizzling sound effects.” —Artandpopularculture.com
Background to History (excerpt) Monty Python
Apparently this is something that Neil Innes put together, but it is completely believable as a bit of roots reggae circa 1972.
Ride the Donkey The Tennors
“I am over 70 and this the first record I bought for my boyfriend who later became my husband. May his soul rest in peace.” —YouTube commenter Margaret Kumba Perry
Mule Train Count Prince Miller & The Upsetters
“The singer and actor Count Prince Miller, has died aged 84…. Born in Jamaica but based in Britain, Miller was a stage performer rather than a recording artist before the release of Mule Train in 1971. A light-hearted cowboy tune previously covered by Frankie Lane and Bing Crosby, it had been a crowd-pleasing staple of his live act for many years, and was committed to vinyl only by accident. On a trip back to Jamaica he dropped into a recording studio to pass the time with some fellow musicians. They pressed him into singing his version of the song and he duly delivered, with a smattering of exaggerated giddyup shouts, grunts and blubbering noises, unaware that the tape was running. To his surprise it was sitting at the top of the Jamaican charts within a couple of weeks.” —The Guardian, 8/23/2018
Draw Your Brakes Scotty
I did not know until just now that this is actually a Dj version of the song “Stop That Train” by Keith and Tex, which in turn is a cover of a 1965 ska tune by the Spanishtonians.
The Train Is Coming Ken Boothe & the Wailers
“Ken Boothe is accompanied in this song by The Wailers (Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh). This music was originally launched in 1966 as a single by Supreme Records.” —Genius.com
Psychedelic Train Derrick Harriott
The name Derrick Harriott has been turning up a lot lately. (He also produced the Keith & Tex version of “Stop That Train.”) Like Lee Perry, he has a long and tangled discography; unlike Scratch, he has not been the subject of a carefully curated box set for me to easily digest. I should explore more — note to self.
Rasta Train Raphael Green & Dr. Alimantado
Dr. Alimantado was also knows as “The Ital Surgeon.” I wonder if he and Keith “The Reggae Dentist” Husdon ever worked together?
Play the Record/Down to Jamaica Christopher Guest & Bill Murray
For some reason reggae keeps popping up on comedy albums from the early 70s (a recent exploration project). This one features Bill Murray as the DJ and Christopher “Nigel Tufnel” Guest as both the smarmy record company guy and the load vocalist. That’s range, man.
I and I (Dub) Bob Dylan with Sly and Robbie
It turns out Sly and Robbie were the rhythm section for the whole Infidels album, so maybe this reggae remix is not so much of a stretch. A sad note: Robbie Shakespeare died about a month ago, breaking up one of reggae’s longest-running and most prolific rhythm sections. (Only the Barrett brothers could conceivably compete.) I feel bad for Sly. (“So when you buy a reggae record, there’s a 90 percent chance the drummer is Sly Dunbar. You get the impression that Sly Dunbar is chained to a studio seat somewhere in Jamaica, but in fact what happens is that his drum tracks are so interesting, they get used again and again.” —Brian Eno)
Satisfy My Soul (Dub) The Upsetters
Great Marley’s ghost!
Turn the Heater On Keith Hudson
Keith was a better producer, and presumably a better dentist, than he was a singer. If you’re a stickler for the concept of pitch, you might find his vocals here a bit hard to take. But apparently this was one of Ian Curtis’s favorite songs; in 1982 New Order recorded a version as a tribute to their departed colleague:
Cold Weather The Upsetters
“….mayhap him NUTS but him th’only Scratch wi got…thanks SO much for postin…” —YouTube commenter Reid Wroth
Coming in from the Cold Bob Marley & the Wailers
This was one of the songs that began to sell me on the idea of liking reggae, a foreign concept back in the mid-Eighties. It still sounds like a sunny day in Santa Cruz to me.