Monday, 6 May 2019

Club Reggae (1971)



1. Holly Holy - The Fabulous Flames
2. 54-46 Was My Number - Toots And the Maytals
3. Double Barrel - Dave and Ansel Collins
4. Groovy Situation - Derrick Harriott
5. Take A Letter Maria - Dandy Livingstone
6. Wear You to The Ball - John Holt & U-Roy
7. Rivers Of Babylon - The Melodians
8. The Law - Andy Capp
9. Hitchin' A Ride - Al T. Joe
10. I Need Your Sweet Inspiration - The Pioneers
11. Mo' Bay - Selwyn Baptiste
12. Boom Shacka Lacka - Hopeton Lewis

This was the first reggae album I bought, in 1972. These days, it seems a pretty short compilation, only twelve tracks, so it doesn't last too long, but back then that was the way things were, it was all you could get hold of.

The classic cuts on here are Toots And The Maytals' "54-46 Was My Number", The Melodians' uplifting "Rivers Of Babylon" and, of course, Dave And Ansel Collins' number one from the summer of 1971, the skinhead stomper "Double Barrel". UB40 fans will recognise Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy" and John Holt And U-Roy's quirky, early example of "toasting" in "Wear You To The Ball" as tracks they covered on "Labour Of Love" "III" and "II" respectively.

Dandy Livingstone's "Take A Letter Maria" is a cover of Jimmy Ruffin's Motown number, while "Mo' Bay" is an appealing reggae/steel band instrumental version of Freddie Notes and The Rudies' "Montego Bay". Hopeton Lewis's infectious "Boom Shacka Lacka" was a favourite of mine back then. It was adapted in later years by Apache Indian and also done by UB40 on "Labour Of Love IV'.

Now for the (comparative) rarities. Derrick Harriott's "Groovy Situation" is a delicious, lovers-style skank. Andy Capp's almost instrumental "The Law" is a classic piece of thumping skinhead reggae. "Hitchin' A Ride" is a cover of the poppy sixties hit by Vanity Fare, it is done here by the otherwise little known Al T. Joe. Its sound quality is not great, but that somehow verifies its rarity. The Pioneers' "I Need Your Sweet Inspiration" is almost like a Northern Soul floor shaker. It is no surprise, therefore, to see that it has been covered by Diana Ross & The Supremes with The Temptations. However, a similarly-titled song by Johnny Johnson & The Bandwagon is a different number.

This was a thirteen year-old boy's first reggae album. A lifetime of enjoyment followed on from these actually quite humble beginnings. Of course, nowadays there are far better reggae compilations around but I enjoy listening to this one for purely nostalgic reasons.


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