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Sweetest Reggae

Country singer and songwriter Bonnie Raitt. SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Introducing, Reggae Bonnie, from country music!! Just kidding 🤓 You know, I don’t think I would be completely out of line, if I were to say that most long-time musicians had recorded at least ONE reggae song throughout their career, regardless of what their core genre is. Hell, even the hugely popular classic rock group “Blondie” recorded a reggae song. I guess… Why not? Reggae is good music when done right!

I Would Have Never Guessed She Was A Country Singer!




Bonnie Raitt did such a wonderful job performing this song. I have to say, when I first heard her sing “Have A Heart (1989),” if I didn’t already know who she was, I would have never guessed she was actually a country singer. The song was written by singer & record producer, Bonnie Hayes. I think it’s such a nice song with lyrics everyone can relate to. I was disappointed that the song only peaked at #49 on the Top 100.

The legendary Bonnie Raitt. SpotifyThrowbacks.com

So, despite the fact that Bonnie is such a talented performer, my next favorite song from her called “Something To Talk About (1991),” was the closest thing she ever had to a number one hit. The song peaked at #5 on the Top 100. It’s a very cute and youthful country song about two people in a new relationship, who really care for each other.

I can't make you Love me, by Bonnie Raitt. SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Oh, for goodness sake! I almost forgot about another major, major favorite of mine. I am also dumbfounded that this wasn’t a number one hit either. Do any of my readers remember her song, “I Can’t Make You Love Me (1991)?” If you love sentimental love songs, a song like this would cut deep when you hear it. Listening to the lyrics would have you saying  “yes, yes, I can relate, I know what you mean.” This amazing song only peaked at #18.

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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!!

King Tubby, the reggae DJ Master

Today, I’m writing about the works of King Tubby! Not sure how my blog fans feel about this guy; but I consider him one of the great forgotten reggae DJs. He produced some of the smoothest reggae beats, with the smoothest bass. I don’t consider Tubby’s music “dance floor” music per-say; they’re probably more closer to head-bopping music at best.


Real Name Was Osbourne Ruddock




Tubby’s real name was Osbourne Ruddock, and sound engineer was born in Kingston, Jamaican. Tubby had a passion for dub music; and his unique style changed the face of dub music in the 60s/70s era. Despite how much Tubby influence reggae instrumental dance music, he doesn’t appear to be anywhere on the charts. However, I have found small pieces of articles from back in the day, that mentions him in Billboard Magazine. Many of the articles were really promotions; or articles featuring artist’s music dubbed/arranged by Tubby. However, speaking from memory, I guess this sort of makes sense. You see, Tubby died in 1989, and Jamaican/reggae dance music really didn’t seriously explode in America until shortly after the 90s. I think.

King Tubby Dub Music

The timing of his death was sad, because not only had he contributed so much to reggae music itself, he had several of his own record labels to prove it. “Firehouse” & “Waterhouse,” just to name a few. Yet the music business had completely forgotten about him. Tubby worked with so many artists, I can’t remember them all.


Jacob Miller & Augustus Pablo




However, I do remember that some of his most popular mixes has been from Jacob Miller & Augustus Pablo, just to name a few. To my understanding, just before the end of his life, he purchased a larger and more advanced studio to manage his labels, while also using it to tutor and mentor younger artists who wanted to get in the music business.

Rare photograph of AUGUSTUS PABLO with KING TUBBY

Some of my favorite dubs from Tubby are “Western Dub,” “Take Five,” “Me Come To Dub,” “Gaza Version,” and “Staga Dub.” I would like to end this article with an interesting fact. Usually, when an artist give themselves a name like “Tubby,” it’s not at all unreasonable to assume that he more than likely has a belly. However, to my understanding, he was never overweight. His name comes from his mother’s surname, Tubman.

Enter The Dragon by Lee Perry & The Upsetters released in 1975, I loved their music a lot and I recommend you search more of their music, one of the many forgotten reggae group legends

I absolutely LOVE this reggae classic! My only problem is I wish it was longer than 2 minutes and 15 seconds. That is definitely not enough time for a reggae groove like this one! But, then again, two and a half minutes was about the average time for most songs back then. “Enter The Dragon,” was from an album called “Kung Fu Meets the Dragon,” by (then) called “The Mighty Upsetter.” This particular album was a special project inspired by martial arts; I found this very interesting and yet odd at the same time. Because in terms of people from Jamaica, West-Indies, etc; reggae music was still very highly political in the 70s, we just didn’t witness these types of albums (at least here in the states anyway). Although reggae musicians were inspired to sing about damn near anything, this album came out of left field for me 😜

The album was practically all instrumental, and if you ask me, I think this project was some of his best work I ever heard! The album “Dubstrumentals,” was digitally released in 2005, and it includes all of the musical works from “Kung Fu Meets The Dragon,” plus a lot of additional dubs I know you’re going to like. Just about all the music in “Dubstrumental” are smooth ska music. I recommend checking out a piece called ” Samurai Swordsman.”

 

I Can't Give You My Love Alone by Gregory Isaacs, is one of my favorite reggae songs, I also love the instrumental version even better

This is probably my most favorite song from reggae legend, the late Gregory Isaac. The song is called “I Can’t Give You My Love Alone,” released in 1981 by African Museum Records (at least at the time I purchased my LP. In the streaming world, I see a number of distributors, so I’m still not sure if another company owns it). This is another one of those songs that I rarely hear that is both romantic and club danceable (or at least in a formal party danceable). I really love the instrumental/dub version of this song (on side B), but it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere, unless you’re lucky enough to find the original LP. Gregory died on lung cancer in London on 2010.

Alright!!! I am back with another hit from one of my favorite reggae legends Alton Ellis!! Alton reinterpreted a song from “The Guess Who” called “These Eyes.” I loved that the producers kept the distinct baseline the same, and just instrumentally added their reggae accent. Alton’s version is so sweet, you’d think that he was the original performer. I estimate that this song has been played more than 1.4M times on YouTube. Here is the 1969 original The Guess Who’s version of “These Eyes.”

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