Music

Reggae goes Motown

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Friday, October 11, 2019

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From dancefloor ballads like My Girl to the psychedelic soul of Papa Was A Rolling Stone and the riveting What's Going On , Jamaicans have tuned into Motown since the legendary label opened its doors in Detroit 60 years ago. Many of the company's artistes have performed in Jamaica including Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and The Jacksons.

As Motown celebrates its 60th anniversary, the Jamaica Observer reflects on some memorable reggae covers from Berry Gordy's label.

It's A Shame (The Spinners) — Co-written in 1969 by Stevie Wonder, Delroy Wilson's take on this song was the first hit for a fledgling Channel One in 1972.

I Want A Love I Can See (The Temptations) — Done as I Want A Love I Can Feel for Studio One, was a big hit for John Holt. Classic lovers rock.

I Wish it Would Rain (The Temptations) — David Ruffin's gruff vocals made this song a treasure in the United States in 1968. Pat Kelly's silky tenor led The Techniques on a rocksteady version produced for Treasure Isle.

Happy (Michael Jackson) —Teenaged Michael at his gentle best in 1973. Junior Tucker, Jamaica's child star of the 1970s, had a popular version.

We've Got A Good Thing Going (The Jacksons) — Was not a big hit for the brothers, but Sugar Minott's lovers rock version (known as Good Thing Going) hit the British national chart in 1981, peaking at number four.

Walk Away From Love (David Ruffin) — Written by the maestro Van McCoy, was a big hit for Ruffin in 1975. Covered in 2004 by British lovers rock singer Bitty McLean, the reggae version remains a staple on Jamaican radio and in clubs.

Cruisin' (Smokey Robinson) — The man with the velvet voice delivered big on this song, from his 1979 album, Where There's Smoke. Reggae band Kotch covered it in the 1980s.

If I Were A Carpenter (The Four Tops) — A much-covered ballad, The 'Tops' had a smash with it in 1968. John Holt covered it for his well-received 1973 album, 1000 Volts of Holt.

Easy Like Sunday Morning (The Commodores) — Lionel Richie and the gang at the peak of their powers on this 1977 easy listener. Dennis Brown covered it as Easyin 1989.


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