This section consist of my favorite classic reggae tunes, from both legendary and lesser known reggae artists. Artists like: John Holt, Ken Booth, & Ken Parker.
Song: Try Jah Love
Artist: Third World
Album: You’ve Got The Power (1982)
I can’t even attempt to find the words to explain how much of an impact this album has made around the world. How many Americans even remember the group Third World? You’ll probably think long and hard for a good half our thinking about their name, until you hear this song! This song is so unique, I still have trouble figuring out an appropriate category. You know it’s has a Caribbean element to it, yet some times it sounds more like American club music. Some might even dare to say it borderlines disco. Maybe this is one of the many complex mysteries of what makes this song not only so awesome, but attract so many people of all walks of life!
This Awesome Song Was Co-Written With Stevie Wonder!
Kind of by accident, I found out that the song was co-written along with Stevie Wonder. Stevie was inspired to write this song shortly after the heartbreaking death of the late Bob Marley. The song became an instant hit. Without knowing any stats, there is no doubt in my mind this turned out to be the biggest global hit of Third World’s career! It truly put them on the map. Probably, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it made them the most famous in America, in terms of reggae bands are concerned (next to the Wailers, and even then, most American people remember Bob Marley, and never think about the band playin’ in the background). Now, unfortunately, I think Billboard is tryin’ to charge $10 a month for Billboard Chart info (not gonna happen with me). So, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, “Try Jah Love,” supposedly reached #42 in the UK and #101 on the Top 100 Chart. That sounds wrong to me, I remembered that this song was just too popular in the Black community for those numbers to be right. Black clubs played this all the time, I heard this song throughout the streets of NYC. Those numbers can’t be right.
Again, I don’t mean to hop on this all the time, but it’s true. I’ve heard very few professional reggae performers or bands, were able to fuse their reggae culture with other styles of music and come out successful like this. If never before, this song certainly immortalized them, don’t you think? It’s a shame Spotify doesn’t have this original album, it has some good stuff in it!! If this album doesn’t spark any one of your memory cells, perhaps you’ll remember them for another hit about 4 years before called “Now That We’ve Found Love (1978).” Man…………….. If you don’t at least move your hips to either one of these songs, you’re just a deadbeat dancer. Straight up deadbeat. ?
Song: So Much Love
Artist: Laurel Aitken
? Wow!! This is obscure. I so love rediscovering obscure artists, it’s almost like discovering buried treasure! To think that today’s artist was dubbed “King Of Ska.” You know, I look at music history very different. I think one of the biggest challenges with getting younger folk to be open enough to listening to classic music, is with young people it seems like there must be some sort of prerequisite. If they can’t twerk to it, or do a nasty dance, or sound “modern enough,” it’s not good music. I also thought about social pressure. Not wanting their friends to know they like “old music.” But, “good music” in terms of old school isn’t just about dancing, it’s also about feeling, and how the music can talk to your heart. Unfortunately, this is not the way we connect with music today.
Finding Obscure Music, Is Sometimes Like Finding Buried Treasure!
The late Mr. Laurel Aitken was born in Cuba, and was a descendant of Jamaican family. He was bilingual, but he mostly sang in English, as the majority of music he produced were ska music. You know, it’s interesting how a genre, ska, was so huge even in America, and today it’s been reduced to an acquired taste. Even a lot of old school reggae lovers would probably be more likely to listen to rocksteady before they’d pick up a ska album.
There Was A Time When Ska Music Was Almost Preferred Among Many Black Music Lovers!
One of my rare favorites from Aitken, is a song called “So Much Love (c.1970).” A very nice reggae love song. I just love these lyrics, “I’ll never turn my back on you.” Those are words you don’t hear in songs anymore. My only gripe is that the song is just way to short (I think). Aitkens also made outstanding cover songs in my opinion. Checkout some of my favorite covers from him, starting with “Why Can’t I Touch You,” “Groovin’,” “You Send Me,” and “(Sloop) John B.” Here are some of his other hits, “Baby, I Need Your Livin’,” this one has a some sick beats “Three Dogs Night,” and “I Can’t Stand It.”
Song: Only Conversation
Artist: Lymie Murray
Album: Only Conversation (2001)
Genre: Sweet Reggae
Although I love blogging about music, it can be a tough job! There are so many great music everywhere; and it can become quite overwhelming sometimes; whether you’re an organized blogger or not. However, I’m about quality and NOT quantity. Today’s artist….. This reggae man right here…… Mr. Lymie Murray…. I LOVED his music! I have absolutely no idea what happened to him. I found very little information about him. I’ve read that he supposed to be still performing, however, I think the last full album I traced from him was in 2014. You know, I’ve noticed a lot of my favorite legendary reggae artists such as Maxi Priest, Third World, etc, a lot of their performances tend to be in places like Europe/EU, which makes me wonder if reggae is now dead in America? That’s really concerning to me.
Lymie Is Amazingly Talented! But I Can’t Find Solid Proof He’s Actively Performing
Who the hell knows? Sometimes with these guys, they realized they’ve ran out of hit songs and windup (for the most part) becoming DJs after a while. However, in my opinion, Lymie is no ordinary performer. He can actually sing his ass off, and he has potential to bust out more hits (I think). But, I also know that it’s more complicated than that. Sometimes I think in today’s culture, a phenomenal voice is often replaced by what is interpreted as “good beats.” I’ve found small articles in various Jamaican online newspapers that said he performs as part of some celebration of something, but not his own concerts and what not.
Lymie Can Really Sing In My Opinion
My top favorite from Lymie is a song called “Only Conversation (2001).” I thought that was the hottest reggae song I heard in a long time. I’m so happy I heard this song, because in the 90s I gave up on reggae. In the 90s, we were bombarded with that dance-hall music; it completely destroyed true reggae culture as I knew it. To me it was like the equivalent of when OG rappers explain how new rappers obliterated hip hop today. So, from that perspective, listening to him perform this song was refreshing! It literally helped to restore my faith in reggae music.
Before I forget, I want you to check out another favorite of mine. I don’t know if it was a hit or not, but I love it! It’s a Delfonics cover of “La La Means I Love You.” I really, really loved how he did this. One more song for you. I beg reggae fans to listen to his song called “For Cynthia,” from his “Good Things Forward (2014)” album. I really think this song showcased the talent in his voice. I heard very few reggae artist that project their voices in that way! I recommend listening to this whole album actually. Some good stuff!!
Song: Beautiful And Dangerous
Artist: Desmond Dekkar
Genre: Sweetest Reggae
You know, I’m not trying to brag, or make myself better than any other classic music blogger. We all celebrate the classics in our own personal way. However, I just want to say what makes my blog special from 85% of blogs in cyberspace, is that it IS a music history blog! Not a collection of random YouTube videos grabbed by a query some lazy programmer written. There’s truly a difference between an automated “blog,” and a blogger that handwrites his or her articles, and shares his/her memories. I am literally telling you a story and sharing my childhood with my readers. I’m pretty sure that at least more than half of what I’ve written, no other popular blogger is writing about. Except for, those stupid and pointless “happy birthday” photo posts on Facebook. And even then they still don’t know shit, if they need to find birthdays.
The Late Desmond Is A Forgotten Reggae Legend Now!
Again, unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any sort of billboard information to share with you. All I can do is share some of the most popular music I remember growing up. Desmond had recorded a LOT of music, and all the so called “reggae fans,” doesn’t seem to have heard of Desmond. When in fact, I remember his song “007 (Shanty Town) (with The Aces)” to have been his most popular single of everything he’s done in 1967! Actually, another song that was just as popular I heard growing up is “Israelites,” released in 1968.
I Loved Desmond’s Cover Of “You Can Get It If You Really Want!”
I really loved his cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” c. 1970s. Both versions are wonderful really. In addition to a lot of political songs, he performed some love songs too. Although the lyrics to “Beautiful and Dangerous” are a little confusing to me, I still love how the background music was done. It remains to be one of my many favorites. I do recommend that you take the time to skim through some of his albums. I know most reggae fans will find something of his they’ll enjoy.
Artist: Johnny Nash
Genre: Soul Music
Oh my goodness! I had forgotten just what a beautiful voice Johnny Nash had. You know what? Listening to him sing “Don’t Take Away Your Love,” was almost like listening to Sam Cooke in a way. Are any of my readers familiar with Sam Cooke? He was another great singer too. This is such a beautiful romantic song, and I think it’s a great song to slow dance to as well. Although this is an American song, I’ve chose to put this in my “sweet reggae” category, because growing up about 85% of the music I listened to by Johnny were reggae. Interestingly enough, he was born in Houston Texas, USA. Even more interesting, he was the first non-Jamaican singer to record reggae music in Kingston Jamaica! And had many, many hits!! How’s that for awesome!! ?
I Do Recommend That You Investigate Johnny’s Music
My grandpa and I REALLY loved Johnny’s music. Although, with this particular song, I don’t recall hearing my grandpa ever playing. But, there’s no doubt in my mind my grandpa would have not only loved this song, he would have played it to shreds!! ? Now, I’m not sure the name of the original album, but also I’m thinking it may be possible it was released as a single. I’m making this assumption because Spotify has it as a single, and all other albums the songs appear in, are more recent re-releases.
Some of my most favorite Johnny Nash music I remembered my pops playing were songs like, “I Can See Clearly Now,” “Stir It Up,” his remake of this American classic “Cupid,” “Groovin’” “Hold Me Tight,” and my most favorite of all is “Guava Jelly.” Johnny has a lot of NICE music under his belt, but I think the music I just shared with you were/are is ultimate best in my opinion. I mean, not only was his voice on point, the reggae beats were just sick!! Well, you can just judge that for yourselves! To my understanding, this now 78 year old hit maker is still kicking it on the mic!
Song: Grooving Out On Life
Artist: Hopeton Lewis
Album: Grooving Out Of Life (1973)
Genre: Sweetest Reggae
Actually, this entire album is an extremely rare gem. I doubt a whole lot of people have this album, and that includes myself. I’m sorry to discover that Mr. Lewis passed away not too long ago. He was truly a sweet reggae legend in my opinion. I first written about him on my old blog a few years ago. You may remember the late Mr. Lewis by one of his hit songs used in a travel commercial (don’t remember what company), the song was called “Take It Easy (1967).” Man, that tune was so catchy, it was stuck in my head for awhile. LOL Something interesting, I discovered that there are two different versions of “Take It Easy.” This album has a much mellower version. I personally prefer the faster one, which was used in the commercial.
This Album Is A Must Add To Your Streaming Library!
Today’s song “Grooving Out Of Life,” for some reason reminds me a lot of a song called “Girl Watcher (1968),” performed by The O’Kaysions. Remember that song? That was some great music too. Not sure what notes exactly reminds me of the song. Anyway, “Grooving Out Of Life” did not get that many plays. However, it makes sense, since reggae was not huge at the time in America. Shit, even with the major success of Bob Marley, reggae still didn’t scratch the surface (in my opinion). But, “Grooving Out Of Life” is an awesome song in my opinion, an unheard gem indeed!
Lewis had some very nice covers on this album. I think it’s worth listening to his cover of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” Although Tina had many people cover this song, I don’t recall ever hearing a reggae version. Lewis took me off guard with his rendition, but I think it sounds really good. Another cover I think is worth listening to is Express Yourself, which was originally done by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. The last cover I think you should listen to is “Love Is A Beautiful Thing.” I don’t remember the original group that sang this, but my earliest memories was a group called The Rascals. Lewis performed it nicely. This could have been a huge Motown like hit if America was more receptive to reggae artists back then.
Song: Mystic Man
Artist: Peter Tosh
Album: Mystic Man (1979)
Not too many American people know about Peter Tosh, however, in my opinion, I’d say he was a legend. Although Spotify indicates that Tosh’s album “Mystic Man” was released on 2002, that was the digital release. The actual release of the album was 1979. All of the songs on this digital album have been remastered, and additional songs have been added. You guys know how I feel about remastered songs. I’ve heard far too many “remastered” hit songs that sound like they’ve been recorded from a karaoke bar. But, in this case, I’m happy to say that the sound engineers have kept the album as close to the original sound as possible! I’m so grateful for that.
Digital Album Has Bonous Material.
Now, I have to be honest, this wasn’t my most favorite album of Peter Tosh, but it has some nice grooves on it. Like many reggae artist of his era, many of his albums (including this one) were very political. This isn’t an album you can use to twerk to. In my opinion, the golden song on this album is “Mystic Man.” In essence, this song is basically list of things he didn’t do anymore, in order to stay on a clear bath. The only other song that got some brownie points from me was “Crystal Ball.” Like I said, this wasn’t my favorite album, but for nostalgic purposes, it was great listening to this album again.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean that Peter was not a legend in his own right. He managed to get two songs registered on Billboard’s Top 100 Chart, they were “(You Got To Walk And) Don’t Look Back (1978),” which reached #81, and “Johnny B. Goode (1983),” which reached #84. I didn’t care too much for “Johnny B. Goode,” because I felt it was similar to Eddie Grant’s music, in that Tosh produced “American safe” song. Then again, I guess the reality was, we really couldn’t blame them. There wasn’t really a whole lot musicians could’ve done, when the music labels could literally tell you how to perform your art under contract back in the day.
When I think about situations like that, I always think back to Bob Marley. He really paved the way for reggae in America. If it wasn’t for Bob, I think the vast majority of Americans, perhaps the world, would have heard very little of reggae music and it’s culture. Anyway, some of my favorite Tosh songs I’d like you to check out are “Legalize It,” he probably was high when he sang this song! As a child I thought it was hilarious, personally. Check out “Downpressor,” “Oh Bumbo Klaat,” which is another hilarious song, maybe it’s because I remember my late grandpa saying that on a few occasions. ? Two more you should check out is, “400 Years,” and “Hammer.”
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.
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.
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).”Save an Extra 10% on Guitar Cases and Guitar Gig Bags: Use Code TOURGUITAR
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.
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.
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 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!
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 ?
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!
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.
Today, I’m writing about the works of King Tubby! Not sure how my blog fans feel about this guy; but I consider him one of the great forgotten reggae DJs. He produced some of the smoothest reggae beats, with the smoothest bass. I don’t consider Tubby’s music “dance floor” music per-say; they’re probably more closer to head-bopping music at best.
Real Name Was Osbourne Ruddock
Tubby’s real name was Osbourne Ruddock, and sound engineer was born in Kingston, Jamaican. Tubby had a passion for dub music; and his unique style changed the face of dub music in the 60s/70s era. Despite how much Tubby influence reggae instrumental dance music, he doesn’t appear to be anywhere on the charts. However, I have found small pieces of articles from back in the day, that mentions him in Billboard Magazine. Many of the articles were really promotions; or articles featuring artist’s music dubbed/arranged by Tubby. However, speaking from memory, I guess this sort of makes sense. You see, Tubby died in 1989, and Jamaican/reggae dance music really didn’t seriously explode in America until shortly after the 90s. I think.
The timing of his death was sad, because not only had he contributed so much to reggae music itself, he had several of his own record labels to prove it. “Firehouse” & “Waterhouse,” just to name a few. Yet the music business had completely forgotten about him. Tubby worked with so many artists, I can’t remember them all.
Jacob Miller & Augustus Pablo
However, I do remember that some of his most popular mixes has been from Jacob Miller & Augustus Pablo, just to name a few. To my understanding, just before the end of his life, he purchased a larger and more advanced studio to manage his labels, while also using it to tutor and mentor younger artists who wanted to get in the music business.
Some of my favorite dubs from Tubby are “Western Dub,” “Take Five,” “Me Come To Dub,” “Gaza Version,” and “Staga Dub.” I would like to end this article with an interesting fact. Usually, when an artist give themselves a name like “Tubby,” it’s not at all unreasonable to assume that he more than likely has a belly. However, to my understanding, he was never overweight. His name comes from his mother’s surname, Tubman.
I absolutely LOVE this reggae classic! My only problem is I wish it was longer than 2 minutes and 15 seconds. That is definitely not enough time for a reggae groove like this one! But, then again, two and a half minutes was about the average time for most songs back then. “Enter The Dragon,” was from an album called “Kung Fu Meets the Dragon,” by (then) called “The Mighty Upsetter.” This particular album was a special project inspired by martial arts; I found this very interesting and yet odd at the same time. Because in terms of people from Jamaica, West-Indies, etc; reggae music was still very highly political in the 70s, we just didn’t witness these types of albums (at least here in the states anyway). Although reggae musicians were inspired to sing about damn near anything, this album came out of left field for me ?
The album was practically all instrumental, and if you ask me, I think this project was some of his best work I ever heard! The album “Dubstrumentals,” was digitally released in 2005, and it includes all of the musical works from “Kung Fu Meets The Dragon,” plus a lot of additional dubs I know you’re going to like. Just about all the music in “Dubstrumental” are smooth ska music. I recommend checking out a piece called ” Samurai Swordsman.”
This is probably my most favorite song from reggae legend, the late Gregory Isaac. The song is called “I Can’t Give You My Love Alone,” released in 1981 by African Museum Records (at least at the time I purchased my LP. In the streaming world, I see a number of distributors, so I’m still not sure if another company owns it). This is another one of those songs that I rarely hear that is both romantic and club danceable (or at least in a formal party danceable). I really love the instrumental/dub version of this song (on side B), but it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere, unless you’re lucky enough to find the original LP. Gregory died on lung cancer in London on 2010.