TROJAN SEVENTIES BOX SET (TJETD192) - The lava lamp is bubbling enigmatically beside the beanbag sofa. You've washed and neatly combed your layered hair. There's not a crease in your flares, your clogs gleam, and your collar tabs jut crisply over your tank top. The Mateus Rose is cooling in the fridge and you've dabbed Brut on the bits of your face not covered by moustache and sideboards. Tonight you're going to make an impression and, if you're lucky, you and she will finish the evening on the waterbed. But to complete the scene, the music must be right.

You heel-and-toe over to the music centre - walking in clogs without spraining your ankles is an acquired skill. You select your hippest and coolest singer-songwriter records: Paul Simon, Carole King, James Taylor, and a new guy you've just discovered in the racks of Musicland, Mac Davis. Any minute, the doorbell will ring. You slide the LP from its jacket, drop the needle into the groove, and out of the speakers comes the wistful melody of 'Fire And Rain'. But hang on, that's not J.T.: the track throbs with a reggae beat. Perspiring slightly through your patina of Brut, you try LP after LP, only to find that all the familiar tunes - 'It's Too Late', 'Everything I Own', and more - have mutated into reggae records. Man, that's so uncool! The evening's ruined...

That might have been a nightmare 30 or so years ago, but these days vintage reggae is so cool that it's surprising this box didn't come with icicles hanging off it. Good songs, well sung and given the tropical touch of a reggae rhythm, have stood the test of time, in some cases more so than the original American or British versions. This set proves that point, fifty times over. We kick off with a trio of songs from the hit parade of lanky Bostonian James Taylor; 'Fire And Rain' and 'Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight' are his own, but the biggest, 'You've Got A Friend', is from the pen of the prolific Carole King who also wrote and originally recorded 'It's Too Late'.

'Rock 'n' Roll Lullaby', sung here by Jimmy London on a Lloyd Campbell rhythm which emphasises the 'rock', was a 1972 smash for BJ Thomas, whose, slightly earlier hit 'Mighty Clouds Of Joy' is covered by Lloyd Parks on disc two. BJ sustained a 15-year run of hits in the States, whereas prolific 50s and 60s star Neil Sedaka hadn't had a big record in eight years until 'Laughter In The Rain', heard here by that ram goat man Pluto Shervington, rocketed him back into contention.

Another Neil, Mr. Diamond, provides our next three songs, which he wrote and also hit with. 'Solitary Man' launched his glittering career, and reminds us of that time when it was actually cool to like Neil's music, before he wore one too many medallions. The next three are not only all Paul Simon compositions - they all started life on Simon & Garfunkel's sensationally successful LP Bridge Over Troubled Waters which topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in 1970, and which obviously made its presence felt in Jamaica too.

The rest of disc one reaches into the rock bag for its inspiration. Honeyboy Martin offers his slant on Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain', Paul Davidson's cover of the Joe Cocker hit 'Midnight Rider' did better in Britain than Joe's did, ex-Melodian Brent Dowe covers Canadian group Ocean's stirring 'Put Your Hand In The Hand', and Judy Mowatt of the I-Threes gives her customary high-grade job on Three Dog Night's 'Joy To The World'.

Disc two's musical menu starts with three slices of Bread, ex-rock 'n' rollers David Gates' mega-successful soft-rockers of the early 70s. 'Baby I'm A Want You' and 'Everything I Own' are all typically tuneful Gates compositions, the last of which made plenty of, er, bread for Trojan in 1974 when Ken Boothe took it to no.1 in the UK charts. Irving 'Al' Brown, who shot to Jamaican fame with his cover of the soul song 'Here I Am Baby', here takes on rock band The Doobie Brothers' 'Listen To The Music'.

We return to singer/songwriter territory with 'For The Good Times' and 'Loving Her Was Easier', both penned by Kris Kristofferson - though it was country star Ray Price who hit the top of the US charts with the former song. (A quick aside: if you ever come across the soul version of 'For The Good Times' by Seventh Wonder, don't hesitate, just buy it.) 'Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me' was a US no.1 for another talented singer/songwriter, Mac Davis. 'Words Are Impossible', as sung here by Cynthia Schloss for Winston Blake's Merritone label, may sound less familiar: hit in the UK in 1973 as 'Vado Via' by dejected-sounding Italian singer Drupi. Ken Parker sounds much less glum on 'Kiss An Angel Good Morning', one of the many US hits of black country artist Charley Pride.

Lee Stirling was in Cockney rock 'n' roller Tommy Bruce's backing group The Bruisers in the early Sixties before launching a moderately successful solo career. Reinventing himself as Daniel Boone, he hit with the cheerful 'Beautiful Sunday', a popular tune in reggae circles: as well as the Ansell Collins instrumental version included here, it also moved units for Eugene Paul. Lee/Daniel's 'Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast', performed by The Sensations, pops up on disc three of this set. 'Sylvia's Mother', the Dr Hook & The Medicine Show classic, was also popular in reggae circles: Oldbury's own Winston Groovy had a good seller with it on Pama, but here we have the Jamaican cut featuring the anguished tones of Eric Donaldson.

Another guy who successfully reinvented himself was Tony Orlando. An early 60s teen ballad singer apparently well past his sing-by-date, he bounced back in 1971 as leader of breezy popsters Dawn who racked up smash hits on both sides of the Atlantic with 'Candida', 'Knock Three Times' and 'What Are You Doing Sunday', all paraded here in their best reggae dress. By comparison, our next number, Max Romeo's 'I Woke Up In Love This Morning', will be less familiar to many readers. It flopped in the UK, but was a US Top 20 hit in 1971 for The Partridge Family, a TV spin-off group featuring well-scrubbed young David Cassidy, the teenybopper heartthrob of the next couple of years.

Ernie Smith, who always had an ear for a catchy tune (remember 'Pitta Patta'), recorded 'I'd Love You To Want Me' after Roland Lavoie, alias Lobo, took it into the US top ten in 1972. Curiously, British pop success came late for the song: the revived Lobo disc finally reached our charts in 1974.

Our third disc gets off to a flying start with 'One Bad Apple', a hit for The Osmonds after they'd been listening closely to the Jackson Five. It's hard to imagine beefy balladeer Barry Biggs singing this one, though he could certainly have coped with The Osmonds' ballad 'Love Me For A Reason' if The Fabulous Five hadn't seen it first. The equally beefy BB Seaton has always liked a song with a strong hook: his cut of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' is one of the very best pop-to-reggae records. Here he offers the equally singalong 'Everything Is Beautiful', a hit for Ray Stevens, which BB himself produced for Beverly's.

The Carpenters brought mature, melodic pop to the US and UK charts in a big way in the 70s. Piano-playing Richard was the master of melody, his increasingly slimline sister Karen was the Queen of Croon, and they created memorably melodic pop songs like 'Close To You', 'Yesterday Once More' and 'Top Of The World'. All three songs are included here. Talking of memorable melodies, reformed folkie Arlo Guthrie, son of legendary Woody, gave us the infectious 'City Of New Orleans' in 1972. The following year, Hopeton Lewis cut the song at Dynamic Studios, changing 'America' to 'Jamaica' and created a peach of a reggae 45, as much a classic as Arlo's original.

'Mammy Blue' was a truly international hit. Recorded in Spain, it also hit in the UK and in the States for Los Pop Tops, whose lead singer was West Indian! Inevitably a Jamaican version followed, here in the capable hands of Ken Boothe for producer Lloyd Charmers.

The Maytals' lead singer Toots Hibbert, a truly great and enduring Jamaican artist, applies his soulful, uplifting tones to 'Take Me Home Country Roads' and, like Hopeton Lewis, Jamaicanises the lyrics. This breezy tune was by far the greatest moment for its originator, the generally appalling John Denver, and frankly, the Maytals' version knocks his into a cocked hat. Another Dynamic Sounds production brings us Vic Taylor's reggae version of jolly UK poppers the Rubettes' hit 'Tonight', one of no fewer than nine UK hit records which bore that title.

After Now Generation's brave attempt at peculiar Irish singer/songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan's equally oddball 'Alone Again Naturally', we're back with a version of a UK pop hit, but with a difference. Ace session pianist Pete Wingfield, who's still tearing up the keyboards with Albert Lee's band, wrote and recorded 'Eighteen With A Bullet' as an infectious parody of 50s doowop. Before you could say Jiving Juniors, singer/producer Derrick Harriott cut an appealing reggae version which harked back to his own doowop roots.

Elton John's 'Candle In The Wind' was a hit for the flamboyant singer twice, both times mourning tragic deaths. Here we have a reggae reading of the song by Eric Donaldson. Hardly more cheerful is 'The Last Farewell', a 1975 international smash for Kenyan-born crooner Roger Whittaker, here done full justice by the honeyed tones of Jackie Edwards. Brotherhood Of Man's 'United We Stand' brings together two Jamaican talents, Cynthia Richards and Nicky Thomas, who cut this version for producer Joel 'Joe Gibbs' Gibson.

Finally, a record which always did have a dash of reggae about it, the summer anthem of 1970, Mungo Jerry's 'In The Summertime'. This was another popular reggae song: The Freedom Singers recorded it at Studio One, Ken Boothe cut it for Beverley's, while, over at Federal, Tomorrow's Children concocted the sun-soaked version presented here. Put on your flares, and maybe that purple grandad vest, and cool out to the sound of the 70s.

Mike Atherton

DISC 1

DISC 2

DISC 3

Fire And Rain
The Gaylads
Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Sharon Forrester
You've Got A Friend
Cynthia Richards & Irving Brown
It's Too Late
Noel 'Bunny' Brown
Rock And Roll Lullaby
Jimmy London
Laughter In The Rain
Pluto Shervington
Play Me
Marcia Griffiths
Cracklin' Rosie
Max Romeo
Solitary Man
Skin, Flesh & Bones
Cecilia
Keeling Beckford
Why Don't You Write Me
Adina Edwards
Keep The Customers Satisfied
Bob & Marcia
Have You Ever Seen The Rain
Honeyboy Martin
Midnight Rider
Paul Davidson
Put Your Hand In The Hand
Brent Dowe
Joy To The World
Judy Mowatt

Make It With You
Little Roy
Baby I'm A Want You
John Holt
Everything I Own (45 Mix)
Ken Boothe
Listen To The Music
Irving 'Al' Brown
Mighty Clouds Of Joy
Lloyd Parks
For The Good Times
Lloyd Charmers
Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)
Lloyd Charmers
Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me
Hopeton Lewis
Words (Are Impossible)
Cynthia Schloss
Kiss An Angel Good Morning
Ken Parker
Beautiful Sunday (Instrumental)
Ansel Collins & The Thorough-Breds
Sylvia's Mother
Eric Donaldson & The West Indians
Candida
Bruce Ruffin
Knock Three Times
Brent Dowe
What Are You Doing Sunday
Bobby Davis & The Sensations
I Woke Up In Love This Morning
Max Romeo
I'd Love You To Want Me
Ernie Smith

One Bad Apple
Barry Biggs
Love Me For A Reason
The Fabulous Five
Everything Is Beautiful
Harris 'B.B.' Seaton
Close To You
Yvonne & Lisa
Yesterday Once More
Beverley
(Sitting On) Top Of The World
Keith Lyn
City Of New Orleans
Hopeton Lewis
Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast
The Sensations
Mammy Blue
Ken Boothe
Take Me Home Country Roads
Toots & The Maytals
Tonight
Vic Taylor
Alone Again, Naturally
The Now Generation
Eighteen With A Bullet
Derrick Harriott
Candle In The Wind
Eric Donaldson
The Last Farewell
Jackie Edwards
United We Stand
Cynthia Richards & Nicky Thomas
In The Summertime
Tomorrow's Children

Time - 49:44

Time - 54:50

Time - 58:47

All material Copyright Trojan Records