Sweetest Reggae

Slim Smith - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: Will You Still Love Me

Artist: Slim Smith

Album: Sound Box Essentials: Platinum Edition (2012)

Genre: Sweet Reggae

This is a very nice reggae cover of an old 1960s song, originally first recorded by a girl group called “The Shirelles.” The very popular group Shirelles took this song to #1, and has been covered by many people after that. But very few are aware of this reggae gem. Born in Jamaica, Slim Smith has done a wonderful job with this legendary classic. Unfortunately, early in Smith’s reggae career, he accidentally killed himself. He died in 1973 from subsequent injuries. I cannot find the year he actually released this recording. I’m going to make an assumption it was a couple of years before his death.


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The late John Holt - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Today, I’d like to write about one of the biggest forgotten reggae legends! His name? The late John Holt. This man has made a lot of smooth reggae. Sweet, sweet reggae. He also used to be one of many Jamaican artists that loved to reinterpret American music; and let me tell you, many of them were really nice in my opinion. I didn’t like all his remakes, sometimes it sounded like his voice didn’t fit some of the songs he sang. But, there was one cover he did that I remember my grandfather listening to a lot on his reel2reel (I loved it too). This song was co-written by the late Brook Benton (along with two others), and recorded by the late Nat King Cole. The song was called “Looking Back (1958).” The song hit #2 on the R&B Charts.

The late John Holt - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

However, John Holt’s version of “Looking Back 1972),” took the song to a whole different level. I LOVED how he put together that organ intro; it almost made the song immediately recognizable. It’s a beautiful song that talks about a man realizing his bad mistakes toward the one he loves, and he learned not to do them again. You know, I was saddened to discover that Holt’s cover version wasn’t even mentioned anywhere on Wikipedia. If I didn’t know it existed growing up, it would not be on my blog. I digress.. I tried adding him on Wiki, not sure if they’re going to approve it or not. I want you to check out two more amazing Holt songs. “A Love I Can Feel (1971),” and “If It Don’t Work Out,” also released in 1971. “If It Don’t Work Out,” is actually a cover of the Casinos’s  song “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye (1967).”


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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.

Owen Grey - SpotifyThrowbvacks.com

Ok reggae fans out there! Do you remember legendary Owen Grey? Mr. Owen was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He grew up to be one of Jamaica’s most beloved vocal artists. The passion Owen has for all kinds of music shows in the variety of genres he played. From R&B to ska to gospel, I think it’s safe to say he just about did it all (with the exception of disco LOL).

His Biggest Hit Undocumented As Far As I’m Concerned!!




And of course, I’m already aggravated, because I can’t find any official stats on his biggest hit (U.S.) in 1996. “Don’t Turn Around,” with Dianne Warren singing background, was one of the most popular reggae hits from the mid 90s in the US. What’s even worse, I am dumbfounded that as popular as this song was, YouTube has very low streams for  this song. However, collectively speaking his music streamed well on YouTube (considering no one plays really his music anymore as a whole). Billboard was absolutely useless to me 😠 . This is a damn shame! All I can do at this point, is share with you my memories.

Owen Grey - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Owen started his career at the age of 9, when he performed on his first talent show. People in the reggae industry took noticed, and his career eventually skyrocketed. From about 1958 until present, he’s produced a LOT of albums. I’d like to recommend some of my favorites. A cover of BJ Thomas’s “Always On My Mind,” “Confidential To You,” “The Game Has Just Begun,” a cover of Nat King Cole’s (written by Ivory Deek Watson)  “Sentimental Reasons,” and finally a song called “Let’s Start All Over.” Enjoy!

The most forgoten about Reggae Duo - Keith & Tex. SpotifyThrowbacks.com

In my opinion, I think these guys are indeed one of the many most forgotten reggae duos ever! Keith Barrington Rowe and Phillip Texas Dixon, or simply known as “Keith & Tex,” grew up and met in Kingston, Jamaica. They are most remembered for their massive smash hit “Stop That Train,” which was published in 1967 by Island Records. This was another one of many songs I used to hear my grandfather hum to himself all the time. It was strange because, most of the songs I heard my grandfather sing, I’ve usually heard him play before. But, I do not recall actually hearing this particular song until I got much older. I always thought he mistaken the song for Al Green’s “Back Up Train,” which coincidentally, was released in that same year. I stood corrected 😍

Keith & Tex, reggae duo - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Although it appears that I can’t find any stats for “Stop That Train,” I do know enough that it was one of the most popular songs in Jamaica. This song was covered, dubbed, and sampled so many times back in the day; it was wonderful to read (when it comes to outside America), fans remembered them enough that after decades they are touring around Europe and Jamaica.

Keith & Tex Met As A Result Of Their Mutual Interest In Soccer!




How funny that a mutual interest in sports brought these two music legends together! They met playing in the soccer field and became close friends. Shortly after, they discovered they also had a strong mutual interest in music as well. Transitioning from sports to music sensations was not easy. Studios in Jamaica were very critical and judgemental. They had to practice with a vengeance, until everything finally paid off. For their first recording session, they performed “Stop That Train.” The studio loved it!

Keith and Tex, reggae legends. Singers of Stop That Train. SpotifyThrowbacks.com

The second song the duo performed/recorded in the studio (which later became a hit as well), was called “Tonight.” The studio praised both songs, and the rest was history! Both enjoyed huge success at the young ages of about 16 & 17. Allow me to direct you to another great song they did. It’s a cover of one of the Temptations songs called “Don’t Look Back,” released in 1968.

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!!

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