Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Rename That Tune

If you ever woke up thinking, "Gee, I wish there was an upbeat reggae version of 'Ol' Man River' that uses the hook from 'Fortune Teller,' but isn't called 'Ol Man River,' today is your day.

Give a listen to "Bronco" by The Upsetters.

I am well aware that both jazz and reggae are not necessarily everyone's cup of tea. Comments and blog views tell that story. But I get real pleasure from these forty to fifty year old ska and reggae covers. They may seem simple on the surface, but the grooves are unstoppable. And come on, props must be given to the "creative" minds behind some of these recordings.

I am also fascinated by the appropriation of so many songs, a practice that would never fly in any other genre. There are many articles about non-Jamaicans playing reggae--the white boy appropriation--but as far as I can tell after about three minutes of research, nothing that talks about the renaming of and taking credit for pop standards.

How about these gems below? The Skatalites basically covering Georgie Fame's "Yeh Yeh" but opting to call it "President Kennedy!" Or, "Darker Shade Of Black," a song you will find on a number of reggae records, and it's always "Norwegian Wood!"

If anyone knows a real story behind this practice, do tell. Until then, enjoy these classics and if you know of more, serve'em up!


Bill said...

Not sure about the reggae connection with those old songs (which I like), but on a related note, my friend once pointed out that jazz musicians often quote nursery rhymes in their solos, which I find interesting.

That Skatalites song is more than an homage, that's for sure.

Sal Nunziato said...

Jazz musicians not only quote nursery rhymes, but other standards, as well.
A personal fave is Thad Jones- April In Paris

Listen for the "quote" right around the 1:35 mark. It's pretty obvious.

Bill said...

Oh, that one is pretty clear. I remember talking to my friend about it, and he was speculating that the nursery rhymes are great starting off points, since they are relatively easy but also well known, and they can lead in interesting directions.

Anonymous said...

Another great reggae cover (or shameless bit of thievery, if you prefer): It's called "The Russians are Coming," but it's just an awesome reggae version of Take Five.


Anonymous said...

Saw the Skatalites years ago and I recall Roland Alphonso starting a solo with Three Blind Mice. The ska players mostly were jazz players wanting to make a living. The ska beat got people on the dance floors.


Anonymous said...

Have you listened to Jackie Mittoo? You'll love him.

Sal Nunziato said...

I have and I do.