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Reggae MUSIC: Marcia Griffiths Sings ‘Gypsy Man’

by on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 1:02 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Marcia Griffiths began performing live in Kingston, Jamaica as an early teenager in the 1960s, and her inspirational shows quickly incited a music industry feeding frenzy to sign her.

At the age of fifteen, her father struck a deal for her with famed Record Producer Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd from Studio One. Coxsone immediately arranged for her to record duets with both Tony Gregory and Bob Marley, but the first of her future hits wouldn’t come until several years later.

One of Studio One’s top singers/songwriters/producers, Bob Andy, took an interest in her, and the two recorded and performed many songs together, spawning hits that enjoyed great commercial success in Jamaica. In 1970, the two released Nina Simone’s ‘Young, Gifted and Black‘, and it topped the Jamaican charts, and also spent twelve weeks in the UK’s Top 5.

In 1974, she recorded a rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Gypsy Woman’, entitled ‘Gypsy Man’, for her Sweet Bitter Love album. This album would be her last solo effort for some time to come. She and her two female vocalists, Rita Marley — wife of Bob Marley — and Judy Mowatt, performed in New Kingston that summer, and Bob Marley was so blown away by the performance that he invited the three to sing harmonies for him as members of the Wailers. 

Marcia, Rita and Judy became known as Bob Marley’s ‘I Threes’, and Marcia would continue recording and performing with Marley from 1974 until his tragic death in 1981.

From child sensation, to a successful adult recording artist, to a member of Bob Marley’s ‘I Threes’, to pursuing a successful solo career afterwards, Marcia Griffiths is often dubbed as the ‘Queen of Reggae’.

Gypsy Man is a song that not only illustrates her beautiful voice, but exemplifies the amazing reggae renditions of American soul music being recorded in Jamaica at that time.

ENJOY:

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MUSIC Video: The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’ Reflects A Period Of Economic Unrest, That Has Come Full Circle

by on Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

In 1981, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal policies — marked by austerity, deregulation, union-busting, and privatization — pummeled the economy with an 11.3% unemployment rate, and riots erupted literally everywhere in the UK, spreading from city to city, town to town.

This was the political climate in which The Specials released their amazing 3-song EP, with ‘Ghost Town’ as its single. With two albums under their belt — an absolutely incredible self-titled debut LP, and a remarkable follow up, More Specials; both infusing upbeat Jamaican Ska with the raw energy of punk — the band allowed its sound to evolve with ‘Ghost Town‘.

The song injects a subdued, haunting, almost middle-eastern melody with sparse, dark, post-apocalyptic lyrics, evoking the surreal imagery of a downtrodden urban wasteland. 

Jerry Dammers reveals his inspiration for writing the song:

There was a riot in Brixton about a year before the record came out. I was writing the song partly about that. Also, Britain was falling apart. The car industry was closing down in Coventry. We were touring, so we saw a lot of it. Liverpool and Glasgow were particularly bad. The overall sense I wanted to convey was impending doom.

It remained #1 in the charts for three weeks, having charted the very day after riots began to spread, making the song something of an anthem for that era. But, listening to the lyrics, you might think they were singing about 2012.

Ghost Town:

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 LYRICS:

This town, is coming like a ghost town
All the clubs have been closed down
This place, is coming like a ghost town
Bands won’t play no more
too much fighting on the dance floor

Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?
We danced and sang, and the music played in a de boomtown

This town, is coming like a ghost town
Why must the youth fight against themselves?
Government leaving the youth on the shelf
This place, is coming like a ghost town
No job to be found in this country
Can’t go on no more
The people getting angry 

This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town

by Jerry Dammers/2 Tone Records

Music VIDEO: Stephen Marley feat. Damian Marley & Buju Banton Perform ‘Jah Army’ (DJ Res-Q Edit)

by on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

This is a fabulous reggae song by singer/producer/songwriter/and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Marley. Stephen has been a member of the Marley-sibling band The Melody Makers since 1979, when he was just seven years old. Before then, he and his older siblings Ziggy and Cedella used to dance and sing onstage with their father, Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Often considered to be one of the key creative forces behind the music of many of his brothers, Stephen has won 7 Grammy awards — more than any other reggae artist in music history, including his father. 

‘Jah Army’ is the single from Stephen’s 2010 album, The Revelation Pt. 1: The Root Of Life.

He is joined here by his 3-time Grammy award winning half-brother (and Bob Marley’s youngest son) Damian Marley, and dancehall musician (and Grammy award winner) Buju Banton.

ENJOY MA’AN!

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MUSIC: Ziggy Marley, Chuck D, And Linda Perry Release Catchy Occupy-Inspired Reggae Tune

by on Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music, Occupy Wall Street, Politics

Inspired by the Occupy movement, Ziggy Marley, 4 Non-Blondes’ Linda Perry, and Public Enemy’s Chuck D recently collaborated in the studio, producing a very catchy reggae song, entitled “Can You Feel It?”  Inspirational political songs, these days, seem few and far between. Too often the lyrics come off as preachy and amateurish, and fail to provoke any passion or soul. […]

Music Video: Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers Perform Their Hit ‘Look Who’s Dancing’ Live

by on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

I’d long forgotten about this amazing upbeat reggae tune from Bob Marley’s eldest son’s 1989 album, One Bright Day.  A wake amidst a torrential downpour couldn’t bring you down with this song playing in the background. What a melody! What a performance!  Recorded live on “Sessions At West 54th” in 1999, here is Ziggy Marley & the Melody […]

Music VIDEO: General Public Performs ‘Rainy Days’

by on Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

When The English Beat disbanded in 1983, the group’s singer/songwriter Dave Wakeling and toaster Ranking Roger continued to work together, but as a new entity: General Public. Their first album, …All The Rage (which featured The Clash’s Mick Jones, The Specials’ Horace Panter, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners members Mickey Billingham and Stoker) enjoyed critical acclaim, climbing the charts in […]

LISTEN: Reggae Great Delroy Wilson Sings ‘This Life Makes Me Wonder’

by on Monday, March 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

In 1961, a thirteen year old Delroy Wilson began his music career in Kingston, Jamaica, recording ska hits penned by Lee “scratch” Perry, Coxsone Dodd, amongst others. His music evolved with the sounds of 60’s Jamaica from ska to rocksteady and eventually to reggae. By the late-60s/early-70s he was one of the most influential reggae recording stars on the […]

Watch: Bad Brains Perform ‘I & I Survive’ In Paris – 1989

by on Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 9:45 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Here’s an old favorite of mine from Bad Brains.  Unlike a lot of the lightning-fast hardcore tunes they were writing in the early 80s, ‘I & I Survive’ is very much laid-back, melodic reggae.  For that reason it’s one of those timeless tunes from the early hardcore punk days that you can come back to […]

Watch: From 1980 — Boomtown Rats Perform Hit ‘Banana Republic’

by on Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:57 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Here’s a fabulous song by Bob Geldof’s old band — from Dublin, Ireland — The Boomtown Rats.  For those unfamiliar with this track, it’s got a great reggae-infused melody that will leave you humming it over and over again, all day and night.  Songs like these make me miss the 80s something terrible: Enjoy!: The […]

Watch: Lily Allen Does Her Pop — Reggae Hit, ‘Smile’

by on Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 9:23 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

I understand this song was a hit in the UK/Europe, and as a result Lily Allen is pretty big there.  For some reason it didn’t happen here, and therefore most Americans aren’t too familiar with Allen or this song. The song ‘Smile’ from her album Alright, Still has got a great melody — pop / […]