kingston

Reggae Covers: Pat Kelly – A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum)

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Kingston Jamaica’s Pat Kelly is a veteran vocalist from the rocksteady days, recording for Duke Reid when Treasure Isle Records was the king of the dancehalls. Kelly modeled his vocal style on US soul singer Sam Cooke, a crooner’s method that finds a likely number in Procol Harum’s 1967 hit ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale.’ Kelly doesn’t really try anything unusual or new with this 1984 recording, though a talented vocalist rendering a memorable song is worth a listen even under the worst of circumstances.

And although my eyes were open
They might have just as well’ve been closed

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Reggae Covers: The Cimarons – Kung Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas)

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This 1995 cover doesn’t bring much to the memorable 1974 Carl Douglas original, though it’s worth mentioning that The Cimarons themselves –Franklyn Dunn, Carl Levy, Locksley Gichie, Maurice Ellis, and Winston Reid (aka Winston Reedy)– were class-act session musicians in Jamaica before emigrating to the UK.

Bonus FunFact: Carl Douglas himself is a native of Kingston, Jamaica.

Reggae Covers: Jimmy Lindsay – Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers)

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Starts kind of respectful, even mechanical, but quickly assumes its own character and style. Jimmy Lindsay’s recording of the Bill Withers original brings hints of African drums, rock & roll (that sax solo!), and his nascent rasta consciousness.

Culture – Mr. Sluggard

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Kingston, Jamaica’s Culture with a tune at once very chill in its riddims and un-chill in the light it shines on Mr. Sluggard.

Tell me where you get your bread, Mr. Sluggard.
Tell me where you get your bread, each time.
Tell me where you get your bread, Mr. Sluggard.
Tell me where you get your bread, each time.

Did you ever push a hand cart, full of farmers goods?
Crossing the street between truck and cars,
Blowing four inches across death’s face.

Reggae Covers: Slim Smith – Everybody Needs Love (Gladys Knight & the Pips)

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What an outstanding vocal track on this single! Kingston, Jamaica’s Slim Smith here offers a truly noteworthy, upbeat cover of the swinging original recording by Gladys Knight & the Pips.

A lot of reggae covers (including some on this site) come off as bound to or hindered by the original recording in an almost postcolonial sense. This artist however takes the slow-danceable, heavily-orchestrated original released to US audiences in 1967 and turns it into a whole new piece of art: one that preserves the essentials of the song (melody & lyrics) but turns them up for the hip-shaking audiences of 1969 Trenchtown.

Say you wanna be loved
But you won’t let me love you
Say you want someone to trust in you, baby
Can’t you see that’s what I’m tryin’ to do?

Half Pint – Greetings

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An infectious riddim. Little need be said about this offering from Kingston’s Half Pint save that it presents a hazard to people who desire to stay still:

Greetings I bring from Jah,
To all raggamuffin, oo-ee!

Reggae Covers: Gene Rondo – Ramblin’ Man (The Allman Brothers)

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I was looking forward to a Jamaicanization of these familiar lyrics from The Allman Brothers1973 hit and got mesmerized by the guitarist’s attempts to match the effortless, right-on-time six-string chops of Duane Allman. Released in 1975 this cover breaks little new ground, but is an unaccustomed entry from the world of Southern rock & jam bands. Gene Rondo –born Winston Lara in Greenwich Farm, Kingston, Jamaica in 1943– is best-remembered for his recordings with the duo Gene & Roy, for his mid-career acceptance of Rastafari, and for a lifetime of good works.

My father was a gambler down in Georgia,
And he wound up on the wrong end of a gun.
And I was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus
Rollin’ down highway 41.

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man,
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can.
And when it’s time for leavin’,
I hope you’ll understand,
That I was born a ramblin’ man.