Arriving just in time for summer ’89, Telstar’s Rhythm Of The Sun is a cheap and cheerful reggae cash-in that was compiled in association with CBS, Island, Virgin, Polygram and Jetstar. The atmospheric photo was shot by Mike Peters and the design from Mainline. Back then, my primary exposure to the genre was listening to various chart singles, buying a Bob Marley’s Legend in 1985 and getting copies of assorted UB40 albums. So this CD became a kind of touchstone, something I’d play early in the mornings at a soft volume.
“18 Cool Summer Sounds” is the tagline and for the opening sequence, Telstar play it safe. Bill Withers found a new audience in 1988 with remixes of Ain’t No Sunshine and Lovely Day courtesy of Ben Liebrand. The Sunshine Mix of the latter is sacrilege to some older listeners as it relies on a programmed drum sound but for me, it’s very evocative of that carefree era. The overplayed Wild World (Maxi Priest) and Don’t Turn Around (Aswad), a pair that were absolutely caned everywhere. Going right back to 1978 and disco fever for track 4, Third World’s maximum joy cover of The O’Jays Now That We’ve Found Love. He came from Jamaica with a thirst for success: in mid-1970 Nicky Thomas’ interpretation of The Winstons version of Love Of The Common People resulted in a UK hit (reaching #9). This in turn led to a European tour and a relocation to the United Kingdom. Next is Eric Clapton’s ultra-cool I Shot The Sheriff (a shorter fade of the album version), taken from The Cream Of… a big-seller in the late ’80s with a VHS release arriving in 1989.
True story: sometimes tourists can romanticise their destinations and then find that their expectations don’t quite match reality. 10cc nail this on Dreadlock Holiday with a tale based on real life events that took place in Barbados. We’re on a roll as Grace Jones follows with My Jamaican Guy – the elusive 7″ single version – that was overlooked on 1985’s Island Life compilation. The music video by Jean-Paul Goude is memorable for showcasing Jones’ narcissism. Flashback to 1981 for Sugar Minott’s lilting Good Thing Going. A memory from Jason Finch: “Just remember my dad used to drive me and my brother around north and east London on Saturday morning while he did ‘errands’. We had the Capital Top 40 on the whole time, which used to run from 9-12 on Saturdays. Oh such great times. The sun used to be shining. 1979-1982.” And then from 1983, Wham! and their deep Club Tropicana. Fun, energetic, positive, escapism, catchy, infectious, LIFE! But hidden depths as it satirised package holidays. “Don’t worry, you can suntan.”
Time for the curious story of the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra. A smooth groove which incorporated other styles such as violins, jazzy beats, classical and traditional African sounds. Minnie The Moocher was produced and arranged by Mykaell Riley and is a slick, almost old world in its delivery. Moving on, Kid Creole’s classy I’m A Wonderful Thing Baby; August’s surely got the funk. Back to ’78, Uptown Top Ranking was recorded by Jamaican teenagers Althea Forrest and Donna Reid, and comprises of the girls ad-libbing to Trinity’s Three Piece Suit. Played endlessly by John Peel and a chart topper ensued. PLAY LOUD AT PARTIES was the recommendation for the joyful Soul Shakedown Party, a Bob Marley classic. Son Ziggy pops up shortly with Tomorrow People. In between are Sly & Robbie with their unique jam Boops, a densely-layered production that’s a fascinating collision of urban sounds. Signing off: Ken Boothe’s 1974 #1 Everything I Own (a smash for Boy George in ’87 also) and Freddie McGregor’s pure Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely.
Grace Jones – My Jamaican Guy
Sly & Robbie – Boops (Here To Go)
Lest we forget
Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra – Minnie The Moocher