Song: Johnny Too Bad
Artist: The Slickers
Album: Johnny Too Bad (1971)
Genre: Sweet Reggae
Ok… I know, in general we shouldn’t judge people. But, I’m betting almost any amount of money that, unless you’re an old school Jamaican, or West-Indian (with age, or “seasoned” as we used to say), it’s likely you don’t know this group at all. The even sadder part is, there is so little written about this obscure group that there is little chance of discovery, unless you come from a family connected with reggae history. The Slickers was a Jamaican group that performed mostly rock-steady style of reggae. The Band’s career in music was extremely short (around 10 years give or take).
Only Well Seasoned Folk Would Know About This Group!
It’s unclear to me why they disbanded. It’s a shame because their song “Johnny Too Bad,” literally catapulted their career in ways we could not imagine. I mean, they were in fact talented, there was absolutely no reason why their career could not continue. I couldn’t even find an original album for this song. Almost every work I found from the group have all been released as singles. Now, this could also be possible that if there were more albums, they may have been released only in the UK.
If after listening to this reggae gem, you still can’t remember, or figure out where you’ve heard this song from. “Johnny Too Bad,” was on the hugely successful soundtrack to the movie called “The Harder They Come (1972),” starring legendary singer Jimmy Cliff. You know, I’ll share with you something interesting about the movie soundtrack. Growing up, I’ve always assumed that Jimmy Cliff was the only artist that sung “Many Rivers To Across,” just because I never recalled anyone else covering it. However, while searching for more of The Slickers’s music, Lo’ and behold, they have an UK album called “Many Rivers To Cross (1976).” Wow, it was strange listening to someone else sing this song. I really like the Slickers’s version of “Many Rivers To Cross,” but, I don’t know, if felt a more emotional connection to Jimmy Cliff’s version. Maybe I’m just a little bias ’cause I love Jimmy’s music. What you guys think?
Song: It Hurts To Be Alone
Artist: Bob Marley & The Wailers
Genre: Reggae Love Songs
Unless you come from the Islands, most of those that profess their fanhood for Bob Marley, know nothing of this song right here! Now, I know that “It Hurts To Be Alone,” is a sad song, but it’s a very true song, and that’s what’s so beautiful about it. You know, I think I’ve mentioned this before; in my opinion, Bob Marley was what Lionel Richie was to the Commodores; meaning in terms of overall fandom, it’s always been just Bob Marley. It’s a shame that America could not comprehend his brilliance, until after he passed. Just my opinion. Almost immediately after Bob’s Death, I remember people breaking their necks trying to buy as many Marley albums as possible, as we all knew there would be a price hike like never before!
I was reminiscing on some old music, and thought of Bob Marley, and then remembered “It Hurts To Be Alone.” This was one of many sweet classic reggae songs my late grandpa used to play. You know it’s interesting, because when I heard people talk about the late Bob Marley growing up, the conversation was almost always about his political lyrics, and how he was educating everyone about apartheid, poverty, things that were happening that America was totally oblivious to. But, Bob performed a lot of sweet reggae love songs too. He was quite diverse. Check out their song called “I Need You,” released in 1965. Also, check out “And I Love Her,” released in 1966. And oh yeah, shame on myself, for almost forgetting his most successful love song “Waiting In Vain (1983).”Elton John tickets starting at $18!
Song: In The Midnight Hour
Artist: The Silvertones
The song “In The Midnight Hour,” was another one of many reggae favorites of my late grandfather and I. It was released in 1968, I believe in the U.K. It was a cover of Wilson Pickett’s 1965 version of “Midnight Hour.” Wilson’s version hit #21 on the Top 100. Despite Wilson’s song being almost 55 years old now, Spotify alone has it registered at over 34M plays. Grandpa and I used to listen to both versions all the time. I don’t believe he ever owned a Silvertone album, however, I remember hearing him play their song on his big reel2reel player. Back in the day, poor folk saved soooooo much money on music by taping each others albums. I don’t know what the stats are for Silvertones’s “In The Midnight Hour,” but streaming appears to be less than 60k plays. It certainly was a hit in my house growing up. Lost reggae legends indeed. Check out another favorite of mine, “Young At Heart.”
Song: Close To You
Artist: Maxi Priest
Album: Bonafide (1990)
This is one reggae artist that should not be forgotten. Maxi Priest is so underrated in my opinion. He is a great singer and a phenomenal songwriter. His rise to fame came when he released his massive hit “Close To You” in 1990. The song hit #1 and stayed number one for a week. It’s important to remember reggae artists like him, because he’s one of the few reggae artists that hit number one (at least once) on the American charts. This means their music appeals to a wider audience. In the 90s, Americans played a LOT of Jamaican music, but I can count on one hand artists that registered anywhere on the American Billboard charts. I encourage you to seek out some of his older music. Another well known hit he produced was called “Wild World,” from his album “The Best Of Me (1991),” featuring John Gallon. This was actually a cover of Cat Steven’s Wild World released in 1970. Maxi did a wonderful job reinterpreting this song!
Song: Hope Your Satisfied
Artist: Ken Parker
I have got to say that, Jamaican reggae singer Ken Parker, has got to be one of my most favorite old-time reggae legends, forgotten reggae legends! In my opinion, he made some of the most beautiful romantic reggae music. Ken grew up in the church, and started his career singing religious reggae music. I mostly gravitated more towards his love songs, such as “Hope Your Satisfied.” I also absolutely loved his cover of Sam Cooke’s “Change Gonna Come.” Damn!! That’s a sweet reggae gem right there! It appears that a lot of his oldies have been digitally re-released, so I am unsure or the original publishing dates for these songs. Oooh, oooh, you’ve got to checkout another favorite classic of mine. He did a cover of a song called “Chokin’ Kind,” I believe it was originally performed by American singer Joe Simon. I love both versions of this song.
Song: Don’t Let Me Down
Artist: Marcia Griffiths
Album: Play Me Nice & Sweet (1974)
Wow! Talk about sweet reggae music? This is a great one right here!! I know I probably say this all the time, but, I think this is one of my most favorite reggae songs by a female. “Don’t Let Me Down” is both danceable and very romantic. I highly recommend this song for weddings/reception. Marcia has taken this 1969 Beatles song to a whole different level. Now, to be honest, I’m almost certain that most Americans don’t know anything about Marcia Griffiths. However, Americans may remember her for her smash hit “Electric Boogie (1990).” The crazy thing about this song is that, growing up, this song was almost a requirement to any Black party. I mean, before an end to every barbecue, someone will demand that song to be played. Almost every church function I’ve been to as a child played this song before the function was over. The dance to this song looked very much like “The Bus Stop.” Yet, the Top 100 Charts has this song positioned at #51! WTF??????????
You know, I am absolutely ashamed to find out that there exist people who don’t believe that there is a such thing as a female reggae legend. It’s kind of aggravating to know that (with the exception of female hip hop today (it appears)), there still exist sexist attitudes concerning women in music. As someone who consumes a lot of music since childhood, I emphatically disagree with this sort of mindset. Especially in the area of reggae love songs. Throughout history, no matter where you come from, it’s always been an unsaid standard that romantic songs came from men. But, I’ve heard some of the most beautiful reggae love songs from women. The late Cynthia Schloss was one of them, and she earned the right to be called a reggae legend in my opinion.
The Late Cynthia Schloss Is A Forgotten Legend Of Love Songs!
The late Cynthia Schloss was very beautiful, and had a smooth delicate singing voice. The first song I think I can recall hearing from her, was a song called “Send Me The Pillow (c. 1982).” The song was actually written by a guy named Johnny Tillotson sometime in the very late 50s. “Send me the pillow that you dream on. Maybe time will let our dreams come true.” Rarely have I heard lyrics like these, that are so sweet and genuine. There’s another song I think you should hear called “Looks Like Love (1983).” Both my late grandparents played this song A LOT!! Many of Cynthia’s music is probably far too mellow for today’s young listeners. However, they’re notable music that is part of both Jamaican and American unknown music history.
Genre: Sweet Reggae
This may sound very arrogant…. But…. In this day and age, the only people who can probably appreciate an album like this, are Jamaicans and West-Indians in my age group. Very few Americans would know anything about this album; unless perhaps you’ve dated someone for many years who happened to be from the island. One of the things I miss most from my childhood growing up was, in my neighborhood, we had one of the only record shops dedicated to 100% reggae! Both full albums and 12 inch reggae; many if not all were imported. All in a very short walking distance. I remembered this album being one of many my mom purchased there. I think this was when I fell in love with Toots and The Maytels’s music for the first time.
The first song I heard was “Bam-Bam” by Toots & The Maytels. I loved this song so much. I don’t know what was it that I loved it so much. Maybe it was his unique voice? Maybe it was his soul that came through his music? Or maybe it was his passion for political change I heard in his music? I played that song so many times. The second song I fell in love with was “Pomps & Pride.” Very catchy tune, and you can’t help but to move your hips just a little bit when you hear it. I was really surprised to find out that Spotify has the entire entire album. The album has various artists, which includes Desmond Dekker (which is another talented favorite of mine.Save $10 On Any Purchase & Get Free Shipping On All Orders At MaddaFella.com! Use Code: MADDA10!