Reggae Covers: Bad Manners – Bonanza Ska (Livingston/Evans)

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From 1959 to 1973, including my earliest years of television-watching, the Western serial Bonanza appeared in living rooms all across America on NBC. The show’s theme (written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and performed by David Rose & his Concert Orchestra) was the clarion call for millions of families, seemingly recognizable even from the other end of the house, and always met with a stampede for the space in front of the enormous, radioactive television sets of the day.

As if the fulfillment of a prophecy, this entirely recognizable, joy-making tune found its way into the island music oeuvre. There are two notable ska covers, the first by Carlos Malcolm & the Afro-Caribs released in 1964, and the later, perhaps slightly better-known version by London, UK’s Bad Manners (led by Buster Bloodvessel). Both do purposeful work turning this recognizable tune into something of a different spirit entirely.


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