TROJAN MOTOR CITY BOX SET (TJETD309) - American R&B and Soul music have long since played a vital role in Jamaican culture. Early sound systems throbbed to the vibrations of Shirley & Lee's "Let The Good Times Roll", Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly", Ruth Brown's "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean", Fats Domino's "Sick And Tired", and the strains of Clyde McPhatter, Louis Prima and Smiley Lewis. Soon they were vocalising their own versions of such sounds - adding their own musical idiosyncrasies to the mix, accentuating the offbeat to create Jamaican boogie, the accentuating the after-beat to invent Ska.

There were Jamaican balladeers such as Jackie Edwards and R&B-inspired duos like Derrick & Patsy and Keith & Enid all looking to the US.  It was the sugary sweet redaction of US singer Barbara Gaye's 1957 R&B hit "My Boy Lollipop" by diminutive singer Millie Small that introduced authentic Jamaican Ska music to many whites in the UK when it hit the Number 2 spot in 1964. A decade earlier the West Indians in London's Ladbroke Grove were getting down to US R&B pounded out by sound systems run by Duke Vin, an ex DJ on Tom The Great Sebastian's Beat Street System, or his rival and neighbour, Count Suckle. US R&B had arrived via a circuitous route to the UK; while there was no indigenous Jamaican music, the island's playlist was now that of Britain's West Indians too.

By 1966, Soul was dominating the Jamaican island in the sensuous rhythms of Rocksteady. Why did Rocksteady catch on? Jamaica was witnessing an incredibly hot summer that year so the youth weren't inclined to dance to Ska's propulsive beat. As the temperatures soared, the tempo of the island's soundtrack slowed, and by the end of the year the crossover from the dominant sound of Ska to Rocksteady was complete.

However, it wasn't all down to the scorching heat; the pace also dropped due to the island's political situation. The rudies - basically hoodlums in smart suits, ties, shades and pork pie hats - were running riot and to defuse the tension and heat the musicians decided it was time to simmer down.

The temporary migration of Jamaicans to the US seeking work helped spread the Soul message. On their return home they would bring back the latest Soul tunes from Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions, plus super cool discs on the Motown, Atlantic and Stax labels. Radio stations, such as WNOE from New Orleans and WINZ from Florida flooded the island with Soul music too. Such was it's popularity Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield all performed sold out shows in Jamaica. the impact was astounding both lyrically and musically.

Mayfield was dubbed the Godfather of Reggae by British radio deejay David Rodigan and his songs, either tunes he'd penned or ones he'd sung with the Impressions resonate throughout the idiom; Marley took their "People Get Ready" and incorporated it into "One Love", Derrick & Patsy covered "Gypsy Woman", Lloyd & Glen reworked "Keep On Pushing", Derrick Morgan took on "It's Alright". After Mayfield it was arguably the Motown label that inspired Jamaican Reggae the most. Motown was dubbed the Sound of Young America - an effusive, emotive lyrical call to dance or date backed by a hand-clapping, hip-shaking, finger-popping four-four beat. Launched at the inception of the civil rights movement, and housed at 2648 West Grand Boulevard until 1972, when it upped sticks to LA, Berry Gordy Jr.'s innovative Motown label appealed to both black and white, male and female. It provided a soundtrack for US teens but translated just as well across the Atlantic - its joyful irresistibility, touching both the UK's heart and feet. The Beatles were smitten - they took Mary Wells on tour and covered 'You Really Got A Hold On Me', 'Money' and 'Please Mr Postman' from the Motown repertoire. Meanwhile, the Who and the Stones also fell in love with the sound, attempting versions of 'Heatwave', 'Motoring', 'Dancing In The Street' and 'Leaving Here' and 'Hitchhike' and 'Can I Get A Witness', respectively. Dusty Springfield hosted a 'Ready Steady Go' TV special on the label too. Berry Gordy's brainchild had become a runaway success.

In Jamaica, this new Soul sound was making inroads. Studio One took its tagline and adapted it - calling their releases, 'The Sound Of Young Jamaica'. The Motown songbook penned by Smokey Robinson, the Holland brothers Eddie and Brian with Lamont Dozier and Norman Whitfield with Barrett Strong was pillaged time and again. Melodies were pilfered and pinned to new lyrics - The Four Tops' H-D-H composed 1965 hit, 'It's The Same Old Song' became 'Stop Making Love' for the Gaylads. Elsewhere songs were simply reinterpreted to great effect - 'It's The Same Old Song' was perfect for Delroy Wilson's expressive delivery as witnessed on his 1972 Bunny Lee-produced rendition. As was their 'I Can't Help Myself', which he tackled with Lee that same year. The Four Tops also provided Bob Andy with nectar; his version of 'Baby I Need Your Loving' showed off his sophisticated soulful vocal artistry. Of course it would be with a Soul tune - Nina Simone's '(To Be) Young Gifted And Black' that he would make his name alongside Marcia Griffiths on their UK hit.

It was arguably The Temptations, however, who proved most popular to interpret. John Holt took their 1963 cut, 'The Further You Look The Less You See' and cloaked it in lavish string and horn accompaniments, added delicious gospel infused female background vocals then re-jigged it with a Reggae twist.

Jackie Edwards turned 'I Want A Love I Can See' into a shimmering Lovers Rock classic. 'The Way You Do The Things' was transformed into an early Reggae classic, motored by an up-tempo, exhilarating beat by Eric Donaldson, while Derrick Harriott's take on 'The Girl's Alright With Me' provides one of the true highpoints on this three disc, 50 track selection. The perfect vehicle for his soaring falsetto, the song became a sublime skinhead Reggae cut.

But it wasn't just The Temptations' early 60's hits that stamped their imprint. By the late 60's, Soul music was taking on board the liberated lyrics and musical experimentation synonymous with America's west coast. Music was providing a forum for a more militant, political disclosure. Sly & The Family Stone had been one of the first to instigate this change delivering a lysergic strand of Soul music with funky wah-wah guitars and gospel call and response effusiveness. It was Sly fan, producer Norman Whitfield who turned Motown on via The Temptations' 'Cloud Nine' and Edwin Starr's 'War'.

Their poignant, rallying cries for racial equality and social justice were appropriated by the black panthers in the US and became symbols for the oppressed. Their lyrics were equally pertinent  to the Jamaicans. Byron Lee & The Dragonaires delivered a powerful dread version of The Temptations' 'Message From A Black Man', while A Darker Shade Of Black's faithful rendition of their 'Ball Of Confusion' is simply mesmerising. Their reading of Edwin Starr's 'War' is equally awesome, combining delightful Temptations-styled harmonies with a Reggae beat on Whitfield's declaration for peace.

Not surprisingly, Smokey Robinson's portfolio was also utilized. From 1959 to '71, the year Smokey quit the Miracles, his group scored 42 US pop hits including the Sam Cooke inspired 'You've Really Got A Hold On Me'. And it is a heart stopping, soulful version by Derrick Harriott from 1969, seven years after the original, which kicks of this selection. Elsewhere, Pat Kelly excels on 'The Tracks Of My Tears', Ken Parker takes on 'My Girl Has Gone' (aka 'When You Were Mine') and The Uniques supply a melancholic dripped rendering of 'The Love I Saw In You (Was Just A Mirage)'.

There are also thrilling renditions of Marvin Gaye cuts to enjoy - Cornell Campbell tackles 'Wherever I Lay My Hat', Delroy Wilson tries on 'Ain't That Peculiar' - and Stevie Wonder ones too - Slim Smith interprets 'For Once In My Life', Desi Young masters 'I Don't Know Why (I Love You)', and John Holt stamps his authority on 'Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday'.

While US Soul and R&B left its signature on Jamaican Reggae, it wasn't a one-way relationship. Booker T and the MGs would add a Caribbean flavour to 'Soul Limbo', and the Staple Singers would lift from Harry J All Stars' 'Liquidator' on their intro to '(If You're Ready) Come Go With Me'. Reggae rhythms, on finding their way to Miami through the radio airwaves, cross fertilized with Miami's home-grown sweet sun-kissed soul to give birth to the Miami Soul Sound. But that's another story.

Lois Wilson, MOJO Magazine




You've Really Got A Hold On Me
Derrick Harriott
Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)
Cornell Campbell
Further You Look The Less You See
John Holt
I Want A Love I Can See
Jackie Edwards
The Way You Do The Things You Do
Eric Donaldson
The Girl's Alright With Me
Derrick Harriott
Since I Lost You
The Techniques
Baby I Need Your Lovin'
Bob Andy
The Tracks Of My Tears
Pat Kelly
My Girl Has Gone (When You Were Mine)
Ken Parker
Put Yourself In My Place
Ken Lazarus
This Old Heart Of Mine
Delroy Wilson
My Girl
Slim Smith
It's Growing
Martin Riley
Since I Lost My Baby
Bob Andy
Don't Look Back
Busty Brown
I Can't Help Myself
Delroy Wilson

It's The Same Old Song
Delroy Wilson
Born To Love You
The Heptones
Everybody Needs Love
Delroy Wilson
Ain't That Peculiar
Delroy Wilson
My World Is Empty Without You
The Heptones
A Place In The Sun
Slim Smith
Get Ready
Delroy Wilson
Gonna Give Her All The Love I've Got
Pat Kelly
The Love I Saw In You (Just A Mirage)
The Uniques
The Whole World Is A Stage
Roman Stewart & The Tennors
You're My Everything
The Techniques
That's The Way Love Is
The Uniques
You've Made Me So Very Happy
Alton Ellis
Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing
Bob & Marcia
I Love You Madly
Busty Brown
I Wish It Would Rain
Pat Kelly

For Once In My Life
Slim Smith
Don't Know Why (I Love You)
Desi Young
Yesterme Yesteryou Yesterday
John Holt
What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)
Alton Ellis
Message From A Black Man
Byron Lee & The Dragonaires
Derrick Harriott
Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is All About)
Darker Shade Of Black
Darker Shade Of Black
The Onion Song
Bob & Marcia
I'll Be There
Barry Biggs & The Dragonaires
God Bless Whoever Sent You
Hopeton Lewis
It's A Shame
Alton Ellis
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
Norman Brown
It's The Way Nature Planned It
Ken Boothe
Touch Me In The Morning
John Holt
Let's Get It On
Lloyd Charmers
Your Kiss Is Sweet
Inner Circle

Time - 49:42

Time - 46:51

Time - 55:53

All material Copyright Trojan Records