TROJAN SIXTIES BOX SET (TJETD174) - Reggae music, as well as Ska and Rocksteady before it, has always drawn on a variety of sources of material. Foremost, f course, has been original songwriting, as evidenced in the catalogues of the Wailers, the Ethiopians, Gregory Isaacs and many more. traditional Jamaican music has inspired some excellent discs, from Baba Brooks' @Bank To Bank@ to Prince Buster's 'Tie The Donkey Tail' and beyond. But Jamaican ears have long been attuned to sounds from across the sea in the USA or England - an interest which started with the R&B 78s which formed the play lists of 1950s sound systems, and which extended to home produced versions of songs from 'A foreign' as the island's recording industry got into gear from the early 1960s onwards.

This box set offers fifty prime examples of hits from abroad, given that Caribbean flavour. Unlike some such compilations, though, these are not revivals from decades later - they were cut while the the tunes were still hot property, often while the original versions were still in the UK or US charts. Jamaican fans clamoured for the very latest sounds, and as we shall see here, Kingston's producers and musicians were equal to the task of giving them what they wanted.

As the first disc demonstrates, Reggae artists didn't confine themselves to covers of Soul tunes - every song here was originally a hit for a white artist of varying degrees of Poppiness. Some songs are obvious choices: the Righteous Brothers, after all, were the greatest blue-eyed Soul duo ever, so it was natural that the equally soulful Ernest Wilson & Freddy McGregor would cover their 'Just Once In My Life'. The Bee Gees, too, have always been popular amongst Soul artists - the Sweet Inspirations, James Carr and Little Eva all included their 'To Love Somebody' in their repertoire. Jamaica's queen of song, Marcia Griffiths covered their 'Words' for Studio One, and here we have a version by stalwart session pianist, Gladstone Anderson. Manfred Mann started life as an R&B group, and singer Paul Jones has always retained a black edge to his voice, whether with the Manfreds, as a solo artist, or with his current Blues Band. So their version of Bob Dylan's 'Mighty Quinn' was ripe for a Jamaican interpretation, which it gets here from the 'Take It Easy' star, Hopeton Lewis, Henry 'Joe G Henry' Buckley and the mysterious Dienne.

Disc One also includes covers of an astounding range of artists - from singer/songwriter and John Lennon's mate, Nilsson, whose 'Everybody's Talkin'' gets the virtuoso Ernest Ranglin guitar treatment, to pretentious Prog-rockers, Procal Harum, whose calling card, 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' revels in the shades of Roland Alphonso's tenor sax. From bearded Folkies, Peter, Paul & Mary (to be fair, Mary was clean-shaven) whose 'Leaving On A Jet Plane' was versioned by David Isaacs for eclectic producer Lee Perry, to lantern-jawed Irish crooner Ronnie Carroll, whose UK top tenner, 'Roses Are Red' attracted the attention of Claudette Thomas for Caltone. Perhaps most surprisingly, we have French bandleader Paul Mauriat's wistful 'Love Is Blue' as laid down by Sonny Bradshaw's band in 1968 - but then Paul's original did spend five weeks at no.1 in the US hot 100 that year, obviously impressing Jamaican listeners! See Disc Three for more Gallic influences in Reggae!

Our second disc is more consistent in its provenance: every single song on it started life at Tamla-Motown, the Sound of Young America. Jamaican's followed the labels' output keenly, to the extent that Studio One Records proclaimed itself 'The Sound Of Young Jamaica' in the late 1960s. For dozens of aspiring Kingston vocal groups like the Techniques, the Wailers, the Uniques and more, the pinpoint harmonies and soul-soaked lead singing of the Miracles, the Temptations and their numerous Detroit stable mates provided impeccable role models.

Indeed, our first five tracks on disc 2 all started life as Temptations songs. 'I Wish It Would Rain' and 'Ain't Too Proud To Beg' are classic hit singles, 'Don't Look Back' rather less so (it was the B-side of 'My Baby' but charted briefly in its own right), but 'Who You Gonna Run To' and 'Born To Love You' were Tempts LP tracks - an indication of the extent to which the Shades and the Sensations did their homework! 'Born To Love You' was memorably covered also by Kingston's king of the Soul version, Derrick Harriott - hear it on CDTRL198. The Uniques' 'You'll Lose A Precious Love', which appears later on the disc, is one of the Tempts' album tracks too.

The lesser-known Elgins recorded a couple of stone classics for Motown's VIP label, the best known of which is 'Put Yourself In My Place', as versioned here by the cooly soulful Delroy Wilson. The next three tracks are from the Four Tops' songbook. Two of them, 'Baby Baby' (which started life as 'I Can't Help Myself') and 'Reach Out', which the aforementioned Derrick Harriott sings over a huge, shambling late Ska rhythm, were hits for Mr Stubbs and Co, while 'Left With A Broken Heart' was on their first LP.

Despite Marvin Gaye's many up-tempo hits, Delano Stewart selected a surprising item from his songbook, for 'Wherever I Lay My Hat' was a ballad and a B-side (of 'Too Busy Thinking About My Baby'). The two Stevie Wonder songs are much more familiar: 'Yester-Me' and 'My Cherie Amour' were both big US and UK hits for the man. Similarly, 'Come See About Me', sung here by the Soul Stirrers, led by Lloyd Charmers, were hits for the Supremes - in fact, following 'Where Did Our Love Go' and 'Baby Love', it was the girls' third US no.1 in a row.

The Soul Leaders' 'Mother's Advice' conceals the identity of one of Motown's very first hits, 'Shop Around', penned by Smokey Robinson and sung by him with the Miracles. 'Doggone Right' finds Bobby Davis reviving a later and lesser Miracles hit. Disc Two ends with the Mad Lads, who don't have to shop around for a good song: producer Winston Riley has provided them with the (Detroit) Spinners' 'I'll Always Love You', a brilliant and sadly neglected song which was about ten times more soulful than most of their later Atlantic output.

Our third disc is subtitled 'Reggae In The Wind', and indeed the tunes on it must have blown into Jamaica on the trade winds from most corners of the globe. From 'Guantanamera', originally recorded by Cuban singer Digno Garcia, to Bob Dylan's 'Blowing In The Wind', brought to fame by Peter, Paul and the beardless Mary, we travel through reggae adaptations of music from three continents and twice as many countries.

The French influence is surprisingly strong: besides Byron Lee & The Dragonaires' adaptation of Serge Gainsbourg's classic melody 'Je T'aime' into 'Love At First Sight', we have Gladdy Anderson playing 'If I Only Had Time' - a song that had hit the previous year for its composer, Michel Fugain as 'Je N'aurai Pas Le Temps', only to hit in the UK sung in English - by New Zealander John Rowles! That 'You Don't Love Me' girl Dawn Penn offers her Reggae slant on 'It Must Be Him' - a hit for Vicki Carr that started life as 'Seul Sur Son Etoile' by Gilbert Becaud, an explosive French Pop singer who scored hits in his native country and then hit pay dirt when he composed the standard 'What Now My Love'. Not bad for a chap whose real name was Francois Silly.

That Latin influence, this time from Spain, permeates Tommy McCook's 'Ska Flea', the tenor maestro's slant on Herb Alpert's 'Spanish Flea'. From further north, or maybe west, comes 'Stranger On The Shore', Somerset-born clarinest Acker Bilk's finest, or at least most lucrative moment, interpreted by Jamaica's most under-rated tenor man, Val Bennett. Moving even further north, to that land of perpetual snow and unintelligible accents known as Scotland, diminutive Glaswegian dynamo Lulu's film theme 'To Sir With Love' is licked over by guitar ace Lyn Taitt.

A fine songwriter in his own right, Bob Andy didn't often cover other people's songs: when he did, he usually got it just right, as he does on 'Games People Play', from the pen of Georgia-born Joe South. Also from the Deep South, though on the R&B side of the tracks, were Moses & Joshua Dillard, who transformed the Country song 'My Elusive Dreams' into a Soul stormer. This, rather than the David Houston & Tammy Wynette original, was surely the version that inspired former Clarendonian, Ernest Wilson to wax the song for Bunny Lee.

Jamaican artists didn't just teach overseas songs new tricks, sometimes they taught them new titles too. 'If It Don't Work Out', a feature for Pat Kelly's beautiful tenor voice, started life as 'Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye' by multi-racial Cincinnati band The Casinos. It started life as a dreamy ballad too, but producer Bunny Lee turned it into a stirring skinhead-friendly clomper. The Harry J All Stars' 'Big Three' masks the tune 'Put A Little Love In Your Heart', one of prolific singer-songwriter Jackie De Shannon's biggest US hits. Hits by other American and British mainstream artists get that special Kingston treatment too: London's own Soul diva, Dusty Springfield's 'Son Of A Preacher Man', enduring balladeer Gene Pitney's 'Just One Smile', squeaky-voiced Sue Thompson's 'Sad Movies' and Floridian soft rockers Classics IV's first hit 'Spooky'.

So that's our 50-track extravaganza of 1960s hits Jamaican style. If you've enjoyed it and if you'd like Trojan to do it again, send in your suggestions for volume 2!

Mike Atherton




Gladstone Anderson & Lyn Taitt & The Jets
By The Time I Get To Phoenix
Noel Brown
Hooked On A Feeling
Boris Gardiner & The Love People
Crimson And Clover
The Uniques
A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Roland Alphonso
Lloyd Charmers & The Dragonaires
Everybody's Talkin'
Ernest Ranglin
Just Once In My Life
Ernest Wilson & Freddie McGregor
Love Is Blue
The Sonny Bradshaw Seven
Leaving On A Jet Plane
David Isaacs
Bang! Bang!
Tomorrow's Children
Roses Are Red My Love
Claudette Thomas
Ode To Billy Joe
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics
The Mighty Quinn
Hopeton Lewis, Henry Buckley & Dienne with The Gaylettes
Puppet On A String
Lyn Taitt & The Jets
Sugar, Sugar
Ken Lazarus
Winchester Cathedral
Leslie Butler & The Fugitives

I Wish It Would Rain
The Techniques
Who You Gonna Run To
The Shades
Don't Look Back
Keith & Tex
Ain't Too Proud To Beg
Slim Smith
Born To Love You
The Sensations
Put Yourself In My Place
Delroy Wilson
Baby Baby (aka I Can't Help Myself)
The Clarendonians
Reach Out (I'll Be There)
Derrick Harriott
Left With A Broken Heart
The Paragons
Wherever I Lay My Hat
Delano Stewart
My Cherie Amour
The Harry J All Stars
Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday
The Gaylettes
Come See About Me
Lloyd Charmers & The Soul Leaders
Mother's Advise (Shop Around)
The Soul Leaders
Doggone Right
Bobby Davis & The Sensations
You'll Lose A Precious Love
The Uniques
I'll Always Love You
The Mad Lads

Roland Alphonso
The Son Of A Preacher Man
The Gaylettes
Ska Flea (Spanish Flea)
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics
My Elusive Dreams
Ernest Wilson
To Sir With Love
Lyn Taitt & The Jets
(If It Don't Work Out) Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye
Pat Kelly
Je T'Aime (Love At First Sight)
Byron Lee & The Dragonaires
Just One Smile
The Sensations
If I Only Had Time
Gladstone Anderson & The Jets
Sad Movies
Gloria Crawford
Boris Gardiner & The Happening
The Games People Play
Bob Andy
Put A Little Love In Your Heart (The Big Three)
The Harry J All Stars
Stranger On The Shore
Val Bennet & The Upsetters
It Must Be Him (Seil Sur Son Etoile)
Dawn Penn
Reggae In The Wind (Blowin' In The Wind)
Lester Sterling

Time - 49:31

Time - 46:17

Time - 46:31

All material Copyright Trojan Records