Reggae Reinterpretation

Freddie McGregor - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

One of my favorite songs from whom I consider a reggae legend, his name is Freddie McGregor, and the song is called “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely (1987).” This was actually a cover of “The Main Ingredient’s” 1974 release. I couldn’t find this particular song on the billboard charts, but I know this was a significant hit because I heard it everywhere. Then again, I have to remember the community I was in. Growing up, we had a LOT of West-Indian & Jamaican people residing in my neighborhood. I loved the way he did this song.

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REGGAE SUNSPLASH, Freddie McGregor, 1979, (c) International Harmony/courtesy

Maybe I should point out that McGregor does have about 3 whole albums that registered on the charts. The problem is with music streaming, you’re not always guaranteed that all the songs from the original album would be on that album (largely because of licensing). That makes it tougher to gauge what the hits are. Anyway, another beautiful song McGregor has done is a song called “I Was Born A Winner (1992).” Indeed another brilliant love song from a talented artist. Despite not having more detailed chart information, I happened to stumble upon an article in the Jamaican Observer, that said McGregor is one of a small group of artists who are over 50 years of age, who has made it on the Top 10 Billboard Charts.


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For today, I planned on randomly digging up an album from my collection. But then I heard this classic masterpiece! It totally escaped my mind that there is a reggae cover of this song. How could I have forgotten? This made history in both film and music media. “To Sir With Love (1967),” starring Sidney Poitier, was an UK & USA mega cult classic, that I doubt any of today’s younger generation knows anything about. There’s no surprise that a talented reggae band would eventually reinterpret this song.

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An awesome reggae group called Lynn Taitt & The Jets, done an instrumental cover of the theme song “To Sir, With Love.” Unfortunately, I’m having a bit of trouble finding their original release date, because all that seems to be available is the “digital release dates.” However, I don’t think that it could be younger than c. 1970. Island people of my age bracket are going to love this song (I think). It’s funny, listening to the way Lynn picks his guitar, reminds me a lot of an American group called The Ventures. You know, now that I think about it, it’s weird that as popular as the movie was, I never heard the complete sound track (after all these years). I guess I should look that up. Here is Lulu’s original version of “To Sir, With Love (1967).” Rent the movie if you haven’t already! It’s a tear jerker, but worth it.

Crystal Blue Persuasion by the Heptones, classic reggae group. SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Oh, boy. I loved the Heptones growing up. They really made some nice music back in the day. Their music is the kind of music I think should have been played  on stations like Light FM. The Heptones reggae version of “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” was perfect for light radio! It’s a shame that as many Americans claim to love reggae music, it was almost never played on major stations, unless it was music produced by a major American artist. The only exception to that as far as I remembered was Bob Marley, and Eddy Grant. Not even Eddy Grant; because it is my opinion that he only got famous because of the song he produced called “Romancing The Stone.” Grant originally produced it for the movie “Romancing The Stone (1984),” starring Michael Douglas, and Danny DeVito. But, even then, as I’ve discussed on my old blog, I never considered Eddy Grant’s music reggae music. 90% of it was all Americanized, and appealed to specifically American rock/pop audiences.

The legendary reggae group, The Heptones. Crystal Blue Persuasion. SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Now, I honestly don’t mean to rant and start bitching….. But…… Reggae groups like the Heptones need to be sought out and played! Too many American people hear that dancehall music and think that, that’s what reggae is all about. But the reality is, just like American music, there is an array of reggae music of different styles and genres. Trust me when I tell you, not all reggae music is the same! I can’t tell you just how many American people who tell me, “I don’t listen to reggae music, ’cause they all sound the same.” The reality is, if those people really searched for it, they’d immediately know they’re not the same.

Not All Reggae Music Is The Same




So, The Heptones consist of a trio, Robert Dacres, Earl Morgana & Carlton Scarlett. Past members: Naggo Morris, Leroy Sibbles, and Barry Llewellyn. They come from Jamaica, and their core genres are Rock Steady and Ska. The group harmonized so well, it was almost like listening to a Jamaican version of The Miracles. The Heptones are so talented, it infuriates me that I have such difficulty finding chart information for many of these groups. I know I sound like a broken record already, but this is part of the many causes of why we’re losing our music culture. Black music culture especially. People are searching for good music, therefore this information must be made available! Otherwise, the music simply becomes “oh yeah, my mom played that song once or twice.”

The Heptones, SpotifyThrowbacks.com

I want to leave you with one last favorite of mine by The Heptones. The song is called “Party Time (1972).” Now, this song right here?!?! This is some sweet reggae right here!! You don’t have to just take my word for it anymore, you can immediately listen to it yourself on Spotify! It just a shame that the song is so short. According to The Jamaican Observer, the legendary rock steady group is still in demand, and is now touring in Europe. That is so awesome!!

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