Yes, Yes, Yes for Dawn Penn
Singer’s You Don’t Love Me is gold in UK
Dawn Penn

THE production duo of Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson and Cleveland “Clevie” Browne have four Billboard hits under their belt. However, Dawn Penn’s re-recording of You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No) is one of their personal favourites.

You Don’t Love Me is one of our favourite songs from the Studio One catalogue. We were huge fans of the song even though we never met her prior to producing a new version in 1992,” Clevie told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

The song was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) last Friday for sales exceeding 400,000 units in the United Kingdom.

Twenty-five years earlier, in 1967, Penn recorded a version of You Don’t Love Me for producer Clement Dodd’s Studio One label. The song was written by American Willie Cobbs and was based on American Bo Diddley’s 1955 song She’s Fine, She’s Mine.

Browne shared how the new version of the song with Penn which became a worldwide hit in 1994 came about.

“In 1992, Studio One celebrated their 30th anniversary and they invited artistes to perform at a celebration show. We were at the studio and somebody told us that someone wanted to speak to the producers and that it was Dawn Penn. We had never met her before but she came with the intention of selling a two-inch 24-track tape that she had. We decided not to buy the tape but instead to ask her to re-record the song You Don’t Love Me. As, before that happened, we had the vision of recording tribute albums to various production houses and production icons. Studio One was one of those, Steely and Clevie Play Studio One Vintage,” he said.

Browne added, “Dawn Penn’s re-recording of You Don’t Love Me was one of the first songs that we recorded for the project and we decided to go with the demo, which was the best vocal. It was released but the distributor Dynamic Sounds made an error on the title and put You Don’t Care on the record... When it was released, we were disappointed that radio in Jamaica didn’t give it the support. You Don’t Love Me (No No No) was stifled for two years. In 1994, someone introduced it to Atlantic Records and it became an instant hit. It was then that disc jockeys reached out to us asking why they didn’t get the song. But we actually gave it to them two years earlier,” said Browne.

The success of You Don’t Love Me not only changed Penn’s fortunes (she was later signed to the label and released her debut album No, No, No), but it also gave Steely and Clevie some clout on the international scene.

Prior to the success of You Don’t Love Me, the duo scored a hit with Jamaican singer Foxy Brown’s cover of Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You (Sorry), which not only topped local charts but raced to number 56 on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart in 1990.

“After the success of Baby Can I Hold You, there was no limit and when we did You Don’t Love Me, we felt the same way. I wasn’t surprised at its success, because I knew we had the right machinery with Atlantic Records,” Browne disclosed.

He continued “The song never went to number one in the United States but it has continued to sell and impact the market. It’s a staple for some sound systems.”

You Don’t Love Me topped out at number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 42 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, while peaking at number three in the United Kingdom, 13 in Austria, eight in Belgium, 15 in Finland, 41 in both France and Germany, eleven in Iceland, 33 in the Netherlands, and 25 in New Zealand.

Steely and Clevie’s other Billboard charting hits were Sean Paul and Mr Vegas’ Hot Gal Today (Haffi Get Da Gal Ya) which rose to number 66 on the R&B chart in the summer of 2000 and Sean Paul and Sasha’s cover of I’m Still in Love With You which was a top 20 hit on the Hot 100 chart in 2003.

Steely and Clevie scored a string of hits within the dancehall space between the mid 1990s to the mid-2000s. They include Old Crook by Mr G, Girls Gungo Walk by Wickerman, Unfair by Zebra, Boom Wah Dis by Burru Banton, Hold Yuh Tonight by Genera Degree, and Cook by Mr Lexx.

‘Steely’ Johnson died in 2009 after a brief illness.

Cleveland “Clevie” Browne
Kevin Jackson

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