Sunday, 9 December 2012

She's the kind of woman who lets you know when she knows what she wants she won't let go

Pick of the Week

“That Girl” by Maxi Priest featuring Shaggy (1996)

You can hear the R&B influence – kind of like a green-onoionish Booker T and the MGs sound running behind this song which is not a surprise really. That was one of the influences underlying reggae in fact this style is often called ‘reggae fusion’.

Booker T. and the MGs
The island sound of reggae music is irresistible. In 4/4 time if you emphasize the third beat and not the first and put in a strong funky bass line that sometimes meanders you have the musical rhythm for reggae. Of course there was Mento, then Ska, Rocksteady and dub but reggae is the most well known universally. As I have often talked about, music is often influence by other music and evolves. No different with reggae: Traditional Jamaican folk music and then Mento was influenced by Jazz and then R&B to become Ska/Reggae toward the end of the 1960’s and into the 1970’s.

There is a spontaneity about reggae. It is soulful music that has its origins deep in folk music of sorts.

Its popularity is huge – the positive, even spiritual music speaks to people’s emotions in an uplifting way. The force of which it stems is social struggle and unrest. It is about freedom and perseverance which has a global appeal.

In 1972 “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash was a breakthrough from an interesting point of view – It was arguably the first main-stream reggae song - a black artist doing a form of black music that was reggae influenced. It was the beginning really of a deep influence reggae would have on mainstream pop music - a refreshing change like an island breeze.

Bob Marley
Arguably the King of Reggae is of course Bob Marley who inspired many freedom fighters from around the world. Of course Toots and the Maytals had a profound impact on the spread of the reggae – they got the word out, still holding on to their native Jamaican traditions. Artists like Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley and the Wailers were inspired by Toots.

Max Alfred “Maxi” Elliott was born in England in 1961 but was of Jamaican decent. He was influenced by the reggae, R&B, gospel and pop music. When he joined the “Twelve Tribes of Israel” and became ‘Rastafari’ he was dubbed “Maxi Priest”. He saw the racism in London and at times felt like an outsider. He took part in anti-racist demonstrations; the impact of understanding the history and his heritage was then thematic in his music.

He began his career with Saxon Studio International which was a haven of reggae which followed with his self-titled release in 1988 with a cover of Cat Stevens “Wild World”. He is one of the only two British reggae acts to have a number one U.S. hit with 1990’s “Close to You” (the other being UB40). He often teamed up with others including Roberta Flack Shabba Ranks, and of course Shaggy with this 1996 hit “That Girl”.

“No bullet can stop us now, we neither beg nor we won't bow; Neither can be bought nor sold. We all defend the right; Jah - Jah children must unite: Your life is worth much more than gold.”
- Bob Marley from the song “Jammin’.

A dozen Reggae-influenced tunes to check out:

1.       Boogie on Reggae Woman – Stevie Wonder
2.       Dreadlock Holiday – 10cc
3.       Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon
4.       Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant
5.       Hey Baby – No Doubt
6.       Can’t Stand Losing You – The Police
7.       That Girl – Maxi Priest/Shaggy
8.       Pass the Dutchie – Musical Youth
9.       The Tide is High – Blondie
10.   A Message to you Rudy – The Specials
11.   Simmer Down – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
12.   I Shot the Sherriff – Eric Clapton (o.k. it is a Bob Marley song but I like Clapton’s interpretation).

No comments: