Sunday, May 07, 2006

Reggae Beatles

trojan beatles

  • Glen Adams "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"

  • [right click to download]

    The title of this song comes from the punchline of the joke, "What did Ringo say right before he got thrown off a cliff?" Okay, bad joke, but seriously; why did everybody always give Ringo so much shit? One of my brother's favorite Dead Milkmen songs is called "When Ringo Buys A Rifle", and it's about the day Ringo decides to stop putting up with bullshit from the other Beatles and extract his revenge.

    Woo, tangent right out of the gate.

    Before I started digging seriously into reggae music, I had no idea how much influence rock n roll music had in Kingston. Apparently, early reggae artists got their sound from radio signals they would pick up coming out of Miami. They would listen to soul, r&B and early rock n roll through a weak signal that was constantly cutting in and out. Hence, the stop-start beat that has become a staple of reggae music. Now don't quote me on that, it's just what I heard, but it's an interesting theory either way. Seeing as how the Beatles were the most popular group in the world in sixties (and probably still are), they had their fair share of other artists covering their songs. Jamaica was no exception.

    While Glen Adams' name is not widely known, his music is. He started recording as a vocalist in Kingston in 1961. Adams went on the play keyboards in the original Upsetters, most of whom went on to become The Wailers, when they had a string of reggae hits in the late 60's. Steeped in spaghetti western and kung fu imagery, their sound defined skinhead moonstomp. In the 70's Glen stuck with Lee Perry, and was vocal coach for Max Romeo and The Congos, amongst others, while continuing his keyboard work, including making the first recording that went out under the name Augustus Pablo. His version of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" is simply beautiful. It shows a different side of the pop hit we're all familiar with, showcasing the genius melodies that the Beatles created, but what only such a soulful singer as Adams could bring out of them.

    kingston beatles copy
  • The Pioneer All Stars "In My Life Dub"

  • [right click to download]
    I remember the first Beatles album I ever had was a hand me down from one of my brothers or sisters called "Rock N Roll Music". It was a compilation album that had a picture of a big glass of Coca-Cola on the label of the record (how british invasion of them). The comp spanned their entire career from "I Saw Her Standing There" to "Back In The USSR". It was all rockin' Beatles, the perfect pop primer. I remember on the song "Do You Want To Know A Secret", the record would always skip at the line "say the words you long to hear" over and over again so it would sound like "saythewordsyoulongto-saythewordsyoulongto-saythewordsyoulongto-", kind of like the end of "A Day In The Life", which always sounded to me like it was saying "never goose me any other way".

    Its kind of an afterthought, but listening to this and other Jamaican translations of Beatles songs, it makes me wonder if maybe Lee Perry, King Tubby or other forefathers of dub had that same scratch on their copy of "Rock N Roll Music" as well.
  • B.B. Seaton "Eleanor Rigby"

  • John Holt "I Will"

  • Ken Lazarus "Come And Get It"

  • The Rudies "My Sweet Lord"

  • [right click to download]
    Enjoy these great reggae renderings of Beatles (and post Beatles) pop perfections.
  • Trojan Records

    Post a Comment

    Links to this post:

    Create a Link

    << Home