More words than JC Lodge can sayTuesday, October 12, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
The Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk continues its month-long feature titled 'Cover Me Good'. It will look at songs covered by Jamaican artistes which became hits.
In 1980, singer JC Lodge burst out of the blocks and became a household name with her cover of country singer Charley Pride's Someone Loves You Honey.
That track brought her recognition at home and abroad, racing up charts in Europe and set the pace for her career. Given the success of Someone Loves You Honey, the pressure was on to produce an equally popular follow-up.
There was a meeting of the minds and out of that huddle came the decision to record another cover. This time it was a soft rock track, More Than Words Can Say, made popular by the English singer, songwriter and musician Leo Sayer.
The song was actually co-written by Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison, former members of doo woo group, The Crickets. They recorded it in 1959 and released it in 1960; their version hit number 42 on the British Record Retailer Chart in 1960.
“It was at the start of my career before my debut album and we just wanted something to follow on from Someone Loves You Honey. Given that I was new to the business, I guess they felt more confident in doing a cover version rather than original material. More Than Words Can Say was suggested and I said 'yes'. I was familiar with Leo Sayer's version and I was happy to do it and agreed to record,” Lodge told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview from her London home.
The song was recorded at producer Joe Gibbs' studio in Kingston. Gibbs also producerd Someone Loves You Honey.
More Than Words Can Say featured a who's who of Jamaican music.
“When I think about it, I had some of the greats working on this song in terms of the musicians. It was arranged by Willie Lindo, then you had people like Val Douglas on bass, and Winston Wright on piano. They all just worked their magic. That's what makes this such a good version musically speaking. I just has to do my part to make it work,” Lodge noted.
Forty years later, More Than Words Can Say remains an active component in her live performances. She has a medley which includes Someone Loves You Honey, and Make It Up To You, and is always enthused by the response.
“Being on stage performing for the right audience, for whom this song is part of the soundtrack of their lives, it is always great to see their reaction,” said Lodge. “Just hearing them take the opening lines of the song... 'Whoa whoa yeah yeah, I love you more than I can say', is always great.”
Lodge's cover of More Than Words Can Say was not just popular with Jamaicans. She reaped chart success in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
But why have Jamaican artistes made such inroads with cover versions that can stand up to, or even surpass the popularity and impact of the originals?
Lodge theorises that because Jamaicans are exposed to diverse music, it makes them adept at fusing sounds that appeals to many.
“Just think about it, walk anywhere in Jamaica and you will hear country, R&B, soul, hip hop, classical... just about everything, and then that is combined with a reggae beat. We are great at taking all these flavours and fusing with our own music... It's amazing. There are so many songs out there that I much prefer the reggae cover,” she said.
Lodge has always wanted to cover a Bob Marley song, and earlier this year she got the opportunity to do just that. Thanks to the British company, Secret Records, and their project Telephone Love.
“I covered Satisfy My Soul for the album which was an incredible honour. I know everyone sees Bob Marley as a reggae man, which he is, but I also consider him a jazz artiste. I didn't really have anything to do with the arrangement of this cover, but if I did it would have been a bit more jazzy,” she said.
The coronavirus and its effect on the entertainment sector has affected Lodge's live performances. However, with venues reopening in the United Kingdom, there is a glimmer of hope for her to step onto a stage once again.