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50 and still sounding good

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Jamaica Observer continues its 'Reggae 50' feature on people, organisations, and events that have made an impact on reggae over the past 50 years.


Sweet And Dandy (Toots and The Maytals) — The group won the Festival Song contest for the second time with this brilliant song, inspired by a wedding in Toots' native Clarendon. References like “one pound 10 fi di wedding cake” and “all di people dem dress up inna white fi go eat off Johnson wedding cake” paint the perfect picture of a simple rural reception. Toots Hibbert at his best on vocals and as composer.


The Liquidator (Harry J All Stars) — A rousing instrumental recorded at producer Harry “Harry J” Johnson's Kingston studio, it features a memorable organ solo by Winston Wright. Johnson was visited by Al Jackson Jr, drummer for Booker T and The MGs, at his studio in 1969. He gave Jackson two copies of The Liquidator, which he took back to Memphis and used (without permission) as the intro for The Staple Singers' massive hit song, I'll Take You There. The Liquidator is the official theme song for Chelsea Football Club.


Wonderful World, Beautiful People (Jimmy Cliff) — Distributed by Island Records, one of the songs that announced Cliff's transition from child star to serious artiste. A hit in the United Kingdom, it became part of The Harder They Come's soundtrack.

54-46 (Toots and The Maytals) — Toots revisits his stint in prison for ganja possession on this Leslie Kong-produced number. Remains a show-stopper in his live set.


No Man is An Island (Dennis Brown) — Twelve-year-old 'D Brown' recorded this adult classic for producer Clement “Coxson” Dodd. Leroy Sibbles is on bass.


Red Red Wine (Tony Tribe) — A hit in the UK but little-known in his native Jamaica, singer Tony Tribe recorded this reggae cover of an obscure Neil Diamond song for producer Dandy Livingston. UB40's take on Tribe's version topped the Billboard pop chart in the United States in 1983.


Satta Masa Gana ( The Abyssinians) — Actually recorded at Studio One in 1967, the song that is acknowledged as reggae's anthem was released in 1969. Inspired lyrics, fierce horn intro, subtle guitar phrasing by Eric Frater and the pounding bass line of Leroy Sibbles helped make this a Jamaican standard.


Mr Fix It (Winston Francis) — As smooth as they come, Francis appeals to the lonely hearts on this dancefloor jam, produced by Clement Dodd at Studio One.


Drifter (Dennis Walks) — Produced by Harry Mudie at Studio One, Spanish Town's finest shine on what has become a much-sampled dancehall classic.


Return of Django (The Upsetters) —Bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett and his brother Carly on drums, lead the band on this instrumental produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry. In 1969, the Barretts linked with The Wailers and in the 1970s, were the driving force behind Bob Marley's sound.

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