kingston

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.

Reggae Covers: The Chosen Few – Chain Gang (Sam Cooke)

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A melodic, musically tight 1975 cover of Sam Cooke’s 1960 original by Kingston, Jamaica’s The Chosen Few. It’s a fairly straightforward cover, right down to the backing vocals.

All day long they work so hard til’ the sun is going down
Working on the highways and byways and wearing, wearing a frown
You hear they moaning their lives away
Then you hear somebody say

That’s the sound of the men,
Working on the chain, ga-ang
That’s the sound of the men,
Working on the chain, gang.

Reggae Covers: Horace Andy – A Horse With No Name (America)

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The original recording by London, UK’s America –comprised of Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek, all sons of English mothers and American fathers– was their breakthrough hit, achieving #1 on the US Hot 100 charts in 1972. This 2002 cover by Kingston, Jamaica’s Horace Andy  appeared on his 2002 release ‘Mek It Bun.

After nine days I let the horse run free
‘Cause the desert had turned to sea
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
there was sand and hills and rings
The ocean is a desert with its life underground
And a perfect disguise above
Under the cities is a heart made of clay
But the humans will give no love

You see I’ve been through the desert with a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can’t remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one to give you no pain

Reggae Covers: Culture – Down In Babylon (Pete Seeger-Where Have All The Flowers Gone?)

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A familiar melody with all-new lyrics topical to the Jamaican experience, Kingston, Jamaica’s Culture here offer a plaintive analogue to the Pete Seeger original.

Where are all the Rastaman,
That used to be down here in Babylon?
Where are all the Rastaman,
That used to beat their drums? Oh yeah.
Where are all the Rastaman,
That even used to till the soil?
And preach to us for awhile,
Down here in Babylon.

Where are all the Rastaman,
That used to walk the woods?
And have a little talk now and then,
Even as we should, oh yeah.
Where are all the Rastaman,
That used to build our schools?
And teach the children rights,
Down here in Babylon.

…and teach the children rights,
Down here in Babylon.

Where are all the Rastaman,
That used to stand upright?
With their staff in their hands,
Preaching to the leaders.
Where are all the Rastaman,
That used to till the soil?
And feed our nation, Lord,
Down here in Babylon.

And teach the children rights,
Down here in Babylon.

And lead our nation, Lord,
Down here in Babylon.