• Ricky Dawes

Jamaican Hits you Never Knew Were Cover



It is easy for us to recall hundreds of songs that Jamaicans have covered from foreign artists. We can even name a few songs that have gone on to be covered by international pop stars. We may have a little trouble figuring out some of the Jamaican songs that became hits for other Jamaicans.

With that in mind, I bring you a few pieces that you may or may not know were covers of songs previously done by other Jamaican artists.

1. Stop That Train - Keith and Tex

This rocksteady hit has itself been sampled by Jamaican deejay Scotty, and American hip-hop acts the Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice, "Stop That Train ", produced by Derrick Harriott is a cover of the ska song originally done by the Spanishtonians in 1965.

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2. Shank I Sheck - Bobby Ellis

In keeping with the ska covers, this song, a phonetic spelling of the Chinese general, Chiang Kai-shek, has become one of the great dancehall riddims of all time. The original, however, go as far back as 1964. "Shank I Sheck" was recorded by Baba Brooks and produced by King Edwards. The riddim itself has gone on to feature the likes of the Revolutionaries, Derrick Lara, Eek-A-Mouse, Bounty Killer and Sanchez through the 1980s and 1990s


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3. Africa - Dennis Brown

This socially conscious number from the 1975 hit album "Just Dennis" helped to cement Brown's place as the Crown Prince of Reggae. Produced by Winston "Niney the Observer" Holness, the album propelled Brown to the heights of superstardom.

Many people tend to forget that "Africa" was a cover version of a 1967 Gaylads song, produced by Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd for Studio One. Honestly, both versions are spectacular, but it seems that Dennis's voice does the work of three on this anthem as he makes it his own.


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4. Gorgon - Cornell Campbell

A big hit in the dancehalls of the late 1970s, Gorgon, the term most likely arising from the 1964 horror movie of the same name, conjured images of toughness and machismo reminiscent of the Rude Boy anthems of the Ska era. It also inspired the moniker of one of Dancehall music's biggest stars of the 1980s and 90s, Desmond "Don Gorgon" Ballentyne, a.k.a. Ninja Man.

But the 1976 song is a reworking of a song done almost ten years prior. The "Conquering Ruler" was written, produced and performed by Derrick Morgan in 1968 and released on Island Music. Listening to this one makes the "Gorgon" seem pretty mellow, but it still became a big hit for Cornell.


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