Genre: Sweet Reggae
This was probably my most difficult handpicked playlist yet!! 🤣 I know it seems like I say that all the time, but it really is true. These days, it’s really hard to find a good cover song. Because either the artist’s voice don’t fit the song, or the musical arrangements are just terrible. I much prefer the 80s covers and older. I know a lot of artist feel like they can sing and do anything the want. However, as a fan of music I beg to disagree. I think a true artist is honest enough to know when a song doesn’t suit them, and if you try to force sing it, it only makes it sound worse. I think the most problem I usually have is with the musical arrangements, particularly today’s cover songs from certain countries. Many cover songs today (both Reggae and some American songs) appear to have a distinct sound; tunes that sound as though the artist purchased their first Yamaha keyboard (earlier models) with artificial drum beats and other electronic “push button” flat sounds that try to mimic other natural instruments. These kind of equipment makes the end product sound outdated, karaoke*ish, and sometimes like an amateurish live performance. Therefor, I’m extremely particular about the covers I listen to.
I’m Extremely Particular About The Covers I Listen To!
So, now that I’ve aired out my pet-peeve, I’d like to draw your attention to a great female reggae artist known by one name, Fiona. Fiona recorded a few covers, but my most favorite cover she did is a song called “You Don’t Know My Name,” which was recorded by Alicia Keys. It was upsetting to know this got so little plays on the streaming platforms, because in my opinion this song is freakin’ amazing! So much great music overlooked. I guess the young people aren’t interested in true love songs anymore; they’re only interested in what they can jiggle their ass to. Another amazing cover I highly recommend you check out, is a female artist known as Natty Bong. She released a cover called “Royals,” which was written and performed by Lords. Natty Bong’s cover got over 5.5M plays from just Spotify alone. It’s a really great song! Check it out!
Enjoyable Cover Songs Are Harder To Find These Days!
Let’s go back a little further in time. 1961 to be exact, when the late Peter Tosh released his cover of a song called “Here Comes The Sun.” The late Peter Tosh recorded this song with the legendary reggae band, The Wailers. “Here Comes The Sun,” was originally written and performed by The Beatles (if I’m not mistaken). I’m shocked as to how many reggae musicians done so many covers by them. Then again, I forget that their are a LOT of British reggae performers.
The Most Shocking Was Bob Marley’s Cover!
I have to say, I think the most shocking cover I ever heard was by the late Bob Marley, when he recorded a song called “Sugar Sugar,” which is the original theme song for the 1968 TV cartoon, The Archie’s. The reason why Bob’s cover shocked me was because, of all the diverse American covers made in to reggae, I just never pictured someone like Bob Marley to do this kind of music. Perhaps it’s because my mind associated his music with political messages, and cartoon themes just wasn’t on my radar. Today, I could see it, but not then. Check out my playlist, I have plenty more surprises in it. I hope you enjoy!
Artist: Hanson & Davis
Album: Can’t Stop (c. 1988) (2010)
O-M-F-G!!!!!! Talk about obscurity!!! 😮 These guys were thrown into obscurity like a Barry Bonds’ fast ball!!! Then again, let’s be honest… The whole freestyle genre kind of died along with it’s cousin disco (shortly after). I don’t think that enough credit has been given to the freestyle genre. Perhaps this was because this music was predominantly produced by the poor Black & Latino communities. Make no mistake, freestyle was a money machine. Yet, you’d never know it in the 80s, because mainstream news never really gave it the time of day (unless there was no other news to report).
Great Memories Of Being In The Record Shop!
Listening to freestyle music gives me many fond memories of spending hours upon hours in the record shop. Shit, I remember being in the record shop for so long, I had back pain a many of times, because I was slouching over looking for that “gem” of a record. Back then, shop owners would play a record for you before you bought it. Some record shops even had multiple turntables with their own headphones, as each customer had an opportunity to play the music before they buy. That whole experience made music so personal, and I really really miss that. Now, vinyl records are not only a luxury, but a rare specialty that costs music fans significantly more.
I’m Dumbfounded That These Guys Aren’t In Any Greatest Freestyle Hits Album!!
I’m really devastated and shocked that these guys do not appear in any of the classic freestyle compilations. Well, at least I have never seen any. Their song “Hungry For Your Love,” was so popular! I literally don’t understand why it did not register anywhere on the top 100 charts, or even the top 200. I heard this on the radio ALL the time! Talk about overlooked talent! There was a category I didn’t even know existed, called “U.S. Club Plays,” which I guess it was the equivalent of poor people’s dance music, or music that wasn’t considered “real mainstream music.” In this category, the song reached #16th position. Other than that, they got no real recognition. The duo broke up after only about 3 years.
Song: I Think I Love You
Genre: Young Pop
Wow, I guess I’ve been blogging and tweeting for so long, I can’t even remember if I’ve written about certain artists anymore 😜. But, who cares? There will always be someone who didn’t see, and what you don’t see is still considered “new” in my opinion. I’m almost willing to bet that I can’t find at least 10 of my young readers who know about the legendary Partridge Family! Which is a shame, because although many young people today might not connect with classic music artists, kids in my era did watch a LOT of TV. You’d think that more young people would remember something of their parents playing or watching The Partridge Family.
You Should Remember The Partridge Family, We’ve Watched Too Much TV Not To!
You know, growing up, I never really liked guys with very long hair. But, I discovered that some are the exception to the rule (I guess). Perhaps it’s that “swagger” that my elders used to speak of? Some guys are born with a particular kind of energy that can get away with doing things that others can’t. David Cassidy’s swagger added to his sex-appeal, which is why he had hoards of female fans. I mean, girls screamed for him in the same way they did for Elvis. In the 80s, girls were still drooling over him. Back then, guys like him were called “Heart Throbs.”
David Cassidy Was The Group’s Bread Winner!!
If I remember correctly, none of The Partridge Family were actual professional musicians with the exception of David. In fact, David was the only one who knew how to actually play an instrument. Even the scenes with the young Brian Foster or Suzanne Crough (I can’t remember which) that played the drums on the show, all of that was fake. They did it in such a way that it looked realistic. I’m not sure of their singing though, since David has always been lead singer since I can remember. Sometimes it’s hard to figure those things out. For all we know, the family’s faces could be on the album purely to associate it with the show.
Only David Was The Real Musician!
As to whether these guys are legendary music artists is debatable. I guess depending on who you talk to, and which category you put them in, either actors or performers. Regardless, there’s no question that they’ve played a role in music history tho. Their biggest hit is a song called “I Think I Love You (1970).” I can’t find the billboard position for this song, but Spotify alone shows 15M streams just on this album. To my understanding, the song was so successful that almost immediately after, he started working on a solo albums. He did a cover of a song called “Cherish” which was originally recorded by a group called “The Associations.” It was very well done. It actually sounded a lot like the original. Another favorite of mine I think you should checkout, his song called “I Woke Up In Love This Morning.” I used to play this song all the time. Unfortunately, David died in 2017 of liver failure.
Song: Fly Robin, Fly
Artist: The Silver Convention
This is definitely a forgotten, and now obscured dance group! Now, I should start off by saying, with the exception of two songs, their music were quite average. I don’t feel that their sound was unique at all. It was the kind of music you’d see in a certain vinyl pile, designated somewhere in a corner of your local record store (back in the day). To be quite honest, I perceive them as being copies of groups like “ABBA,” who got lucky with a couple of massive hits. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they couldn’t sing, however, with average voices like theirs, it requires a really good songwriter and producer to set them apart.
Two Magaton Hits True Disco Fans Will Never Forget!!
The most memorable hit from Silver Connection is a song called “Fly Robin, Fly! (1975).” Spotify along registers @ over 5.7M plays. Not bad for a song over 40 1/2 years old. The song did very well around the world. US Dance Chart #1; Top 100 Chart #1; Norwegian #1; Canada, Germany, and Belgian #3. So, there’s no question that this was a cult classic. It just startles my mind that our culture has change to such an extreme degree, that this song is now literally obscure. I still have a hard time accepting this; but unfortunately this is the raw fact. This is the kind of beautiful music we had in my generation. Imagine, a song with very few words in it, and a great dance beat, can turn out to be one of the biggest memorable hits in dance history globally. I don’t think we can ever achieve that again. Not the way we consume music now.
We Will Not Hear Amazing Music Like This Again!!
A year later, They released a second major hit that some may remember, the song is called “Get Up And Boogie (1976).” I loved this song too! Like “Fly Robin, Fly,” this song had an easy tune, and an easy beat that allowed anyone of any age to dance to. Both songs were great “cool down music,” after spending an hour on your feet dancing on the floor. US Top 100 Chart, and the American Billboard Dance Chart registered this song as #2; Canada #1; and the Dutch and Spanish version of this recording reached within the top #10. Unfortunately, beyond these two massive hits, I haven’t heard anything from them worth buying, or adding to my playlist. 🤣 However, to be fair, I should point out that the group was originally from Germany. So, they could have had many other hits unbeknown to me.
Song: Rum Is Macho
Artist: Mighty Sparrow
OMG 😳! I can’t believe it! I NEVER expected Spotify to have this entire album! Like I’ve always said, this is why it’s a good idea to use a streaming service for your core music needs, instead of YouTube. The Mighty Sparrow was HUGE in Jamaica and throughout the West-Indies. I guess here in the United States as well; we had a large population that heavily migrated here during the 1990s. However, growing up, it appeared that I only heard Sparrow played among my elders. Despite Sparrow almost exclusively performing calypso, I can’t recall hearing too many young people (my age then) interested in Sparrow’s music. But, in the music world, Sparrow was just as important and influential to the Caribbean, as Tito Puente was to the Latin community! Sparrow was literally dubbed “The King Of Calypso.”
Sparrow Brought Back Huge Childhood Memories For Me!
This album brought back a flood of childhood memories for me. Now, I can rehear this entire album in all it’s digital 320 bitrate glory! This album represents the best times I had when both my grandparents were alive. I can literally still see them dancing, laughing, having fun, and not giving a shit about what’s going on outside their world. We really take for granted how impactful music is in our lives. Music is the one thing that helps one to forget family drama, even if it’s for a moment. I have to say though, I was shocked to shits when I heard my late grandfather say he hated Sparrow😨! He said he only played his records because grandma liked them. LOL… I couldn’t understand why? However, to be honest, some of Sparrows music does kind of sound repetitive. That’s one of the downsides when record labels “keep that same money making formula.” Perhaps that’s what grandpa hated.
You Might Not Like His Music, But It Did Not Stop Him From Playing A Major Role In Caribbean Music!
This fabulous album is a 2 vinyl set. This is truly a Caribbean collector’s item. But, I was shocked that Amazon had this album for only $32 😮. But then again, I discovered that there exist 3 versions of the albums. The original Trinidad & Tobago version, and about 3 US versions that probably were more likely remixed. I know I have the original, and what’s in Spotify’s library is the original music as it was, so I’m not sure what are the differences that made the price so low. UPDATE: it was a used album on Amazon, so it more than likely was not in mint condition. “Rum Is Macho” was the one song that was played a lot in my family. Also, I remember “London Bridge,” and “Gu Nu Gu,” being a family favorite too. Check out this album when you get a chance. If you want to hear what REAL calypso was like when I was growing up, then listen to this album. 😜
Song: I’m Not In Love
Genre: Easy Listening
The group 10cc is probably the biggest rock group of my time (in my opinion). Although they’ve been officially categorized as a rock group, their biggest hits of all time (with the exception of one) are technically in the real of easy listening. If you were into rock music, their name was easy to remember, and music that was unmistakably their own. I’ve often wondered why did they pick 10cc as a group name. There were many different reports, but the last one I’ve read, producer Johnathan King it came to him in a dream. Not to stereotype artists but…. It was a fact that most 80s rockers lived a particular lifestyle, and I think their name more likely came from the drug lifestyle. I suppose we’ll never know the real reason (if any).
They’re One Of The Greatest Rock Groups Of My Time!
10cc has gone through a lot of changes during their 40+ year career. Members came and gone, on and off again relationships. However, during that time they’ve managed to keep their fans. They’re definitely loved practically all around the world. One of their biggest hits I’m in love with, is called “I’m Not In Love (1975).” The song hit #1 in UK, Canada & Ireland; #2 in the US, #3 in Australia. This was a very, very popular song. I haven’t heard anything that was composed like it before. It sort of makes you want to listen to it because it’s so unique. But it’s also a beautiful love song, about a many who loves a woman so much that he can’t get his thoughts straight. Very well written if you ask me.
Collectively Speaking, They’ve Crushed The Music Charts!!
Just to give you an idea as to how huge “I’m not in love” was, as of today Spotify has this at 150M plays, I’ve only looked through a couple of YouTube plays and I stopped around 20M. Shazams has about 2.5 discoveries. I can’t find anything on iTunes, but I’m confident the numbers are around (if not more) that of Spotify. The fact that we’re living in a streaming culture where it appears a significant majority abandon the classics….. That’s freakin’ huge! Then again, to be fair, there is no way we can measure the people who are still faithful to their vinyls and cassettes. Decades later after they’ve released this song, there is no question that music fans still love them.
After 45 Years, Fans Are Still Grooving To This Song!
Some other great songs on their hit list you might remember is “The Things We Do For Love (1977),” from their “Deceptive Bends” album. This song hit #1 in Canada, and #5 in the US. A really, really great song that depicted our culture in the late 70s. Unlike the United States, the UK still has a strong reggae culture there. Songs like “Dreadlock Holiday (1978),” hit #1 in UK, Belgium, Ireland, and Dutch. However, in America it only peaked at #44 on the Top 100 Chart. There’s another reggae song called “I Don’t Like Cricket (I Love It) (c.2015).” Unfortunately, I don’t see any chart information for this song, but I remember hearing it quite a few times. It’s a remake, but it’s a great song nevertheless.
Song: I’ll Take You There
Artist: The Staple Singers!
I have to be honest, I didn’t listen to a whole lot of music from the Staple Singers (at least their earlier music anyway). I don’t think there was any particular reason for it (I think). Then again, when my elders played any sort of christian music, it tend to be more traditional music, whereas the Staple Singers’ music seemed more secular. Come to think about it, even @ the beginning of their early music carrier, some people may say it’s gospel, but a lot of the music I heard were more borderline hint of rock music. Almost comparable to a softer version of what Fats Domino would perform. That was a no no for many christian folk when I was growing up.
Their Music Commanded Your Attention!
Unfortunately, because I wasn’t really into a whole lot of christian music growing up, I really don’t have a feel for the scope of their success in the christian world. However, I would imagine they were pretty huge, because in the secular music world, they exploded like a megaton bomb! They would later produce songs with heavy funky beats that would not be ignored! There biggest hit that I remember growing up was a song called “I’ll Take You There (1972).” Fifty years after it’s vinyl release, and into the age of streaming, on Spotify alone they’ve racked up over 83 million plays. In my opinion, that is huge, especially since we’re in an age of short-term memory.
No Doubt, Their Music Has Immortalized Them, Even By Non-christians!
I mean, you either never heard their music before (if that’s possible), but remember their name; or you hear their music and get a rush of nostalgia! There’s just no way you can hear “I’ll Take You There,” and not get an urge to move your body. Even if you don’t like to dance, you will move your body just because of the sheer fact that the song played a major part of our history. At the Cash Box, R&B Chart, & Hot 100, all at #1 placement. In South Africa, the song reached #7. It is incredibly rare that a song hits #1 in so many categories. A christian song at that. Very rare indeed.
They’ve Also Produced A Hit Song To A Soundtrack!
Another song I really loved by them was a song called “Let’s Do It Again (1975).” It was a soundtrack to the movie comedy “Let’s Do It Again,” starring Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and Jimmy Walker. I was actually taken back by this song. When I listened to the lyrics and compared them to their other music, I would have never expected them to perform something like this. Both songs are super super secular. Another huge favorite of mine was “Respect Yourself (1971).” I loved songs like these growing up, because even back then, we knew the powerful effects that music had in our lives. If Black artists wanted to give a reminder to their fans about certain negative behaviors in our community, or just share political awareness, the best way to do it is put it in our music! “Respect Yourself” reached #2 on the R&B chart, and #12 on the Top 100.
Artists: A Variety
Genre: Ska & Rock Steady
Since playlists are so incredibly important, I decided to do another one this week. Today, I want to focus on a forgotten music label called Trojan Records. Coming from a family of heavy music lovers and performers, growing up, I can safely say that Trojan Records for reggae artists was the equivalent to Motown for Black American artists. In terms of the hits they pumped out, and the tremendous contributions they’ve made to Black music in general. I really don’t think, not just Americans, but other countries around the world would have ever known what reggae was, if it were not for labels like Trojan Records.
Trojan Played A Pivotal Role In Reggae Music!
Like Motown, Trojan employed many hit makers such as Toots & The Maytals, Bob Andy, Peter Tosh, John Holt, Marcia Griffiths, are just a very small fraction of the very talented people they had on their raster. Trojan is actually a British label, that was formed some time in 1968. As far as I know, the label has strictly dedicated itself to ska & rock steady type of reggae. To be honest, I can’t even recall ever hearing calypso from Trojan (at least when I was a young boy anyway). Today I’m not really sure if the label is producing new music. I can’t really find a whole lot of new stuff, with the exception of re-releases of their old music. Traditional reggae is such beautiful music! It just hurts my heart that it’s become “an old fad” in America. Almost never to be listened to again, as if it ran its course. Huh! Again, just like Motown! When Berry Gordy sold Motown, when last have you heard any advertisement for anything Motown? They had no interest in keeping the memory of Black music, only to own the value of it’s name.
Trojan Is Actually A British Label!
Trojan is now under Sanctuary Records. It doesn’t appear that Sanctuary has produced a lot of (or if any) new reggae under their name either. Please think about this for a moment. Trojan was affiliated with more than 30 other Black reggae labels (which I’m sure Sanctuary also owns or have license to), and I’m having difficulty finding new Black reggae music from them. However, they’re offering imports of their old music for extraordinary amounts of money. Another reason why music streaming is so important! So that poor people who can’t afford that kind of money for those rare reprints/originals, still have another way to access our history for practically free!
Reggae Music From Trojan Records Almost Feels Extinct!
Ok, a little about my new hand-picked playlist😄! The process of putting together this playlist was sort-of difficult. Because it is not an American label, I can’t find chart information as easily as I’d like. Most if not all don’t even have chart information. I had to really rely on my childhood memories, my mom’s vinyls and my late grandpa’s reel2reel tapes and vinyls, and pretty much start diggin’ through several hundred music streams 😜. Out of about 800 Trojan tunes I’ve curated, I’ve narrowed them down to 40 treasures for this playlist. I really think people from the Island around my age will enjoy this list most definitely; and hopefully it will jar some memories for you too! Yes?
After Hours & Hours Of Listening, I Made The Perfect Classic Trojan List!
Soooo, some of the great artists I have on this list includes the great Desmond Dekker & The Aces, with their hit called “Shing A Ling.” This wasn’t Dekker’s biggest hit, but I loved this song anyway. You’d probably are more familiar with one of his bigger hits, such as “007 (Shante Town) (1967).” By the way, I wish I was able to find more information about the above photo with Dekker in it. I noticed the sign in the photo mentions Byron Lee (not pictured (although I’m sure it’s the guy with his head turned the other way, but I’m not certain)). My late grandfather absolutely loved Byron Lee. Byron was HUGE in the reggae world. In my opinion, he was like the reggae version of Tito Puente 🤣. Speaking of Byron Lee, he was also on the Trojan label. One song by Byron my late Grandpa used to play a lot was called “Only A Fool (with Sparrow)(1977).” Ahhh, this was such a beautiful record. Byron also had another huge hit called “Tiney Winey,” and I believe it was released in 1984. Now, I know I said early in this article that I hadn’t heard any calypso music out of the Trojan label. But here’s the thing, with songs like “Tiney Winey,” artists often change labels, sometimes labels get taken over, sometimes they’re also under sub-labels that specialize in a specific genre. It’s really hard to know what’s what.
Byron Lee Was Almost Like A Reggae Version Of Tito Puente!
Next, I have the legendary Millie Small, who many Americans would be shocked to find out she was actually from Jamaica! Unfortunately I never considered her to have a really talented voice. However, she exploded in the music scene when she released her one massive hit “My Boy Lollipop (c.1964).” The song hit #2 on the top 100 American Billboard. Unfortunately, Millie past away in early 2020, at the age of 72. A lot of famous artists on the Trojan label also made some awesome covers of American music. “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” by John Holt; “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” by my girl Marcia Griffiths; “Don’t Play That Song For Me,” by Derrick Morgan; and plenty more on this playlist. I hope you enjoy!!