Love Is Gonna Let Me Down. Not Reggae, Though

by Belle Waring on January 10, 2014

One time I made a mix that was Belle’s Saddest Mix Ever. This was to go with my brother Ben’s Saddest Mix Ever. The were not disjunct. This song by Toots and the Maytals was on both:

Everytime I see your face
Something moves within my heart
And it thrills me to my soul
And tells me that
Love is gonna let me down…



When I was little we didn’t listen to any 70s dance music much. Funk like Kool and the Gang, passively, but my parents liked country blues, regular old country, the Stones, punk, my dad has always been a big Clash fan…for so long as there has been The Clash for him to be a fan of. All that kind of Rare Groove type music I got into on my own. These songs are all songs I listened to a million times as a kid. My dad is a really talented guitarist. Really, freakishly talented? He plays normal guitar (like a little Brazilian rosewood acoustic he got recently) but he also plays 10-string bottleneck slide. So, an acoustic 12-string guitar, with the additional strings removed from the 2 highest strings, and a bottleneck slide. These are fun to make: you put the bottle on its side in the bottom of a barrel and then drop a brick on it from eye height. You kind of sand it smooth later with…jeweler’s rogue or something? He has stage fright of a sort, so despite being just excellent and playing with quite a few people he has never been a professional. He plays a great version of The Heptones “Book of Rules”

And while we’re on the subject of how one is meant to live the good life, what’s God like? Does he have qualities? Attributes? No? Yes? Wait, just “I Am That I Am”? Excellent.

It’s not Bob Marley’s fault with the thing about that one compilation album, you know. This is my brother Ben’s speciallest song just for me. (Not like how y’alls’ brothers don’t love y’all and their special song for y’all is “War Ina Babylon” by Max Romeo and The Upsetters. Um, good call, actually, I take that back. Y’alls’ brothers sound alright.)

You probably think of Junior Murvin as the originator of excellent Clash cover “Police and Thieves.” Yes! “Cool Out Son” is also killer.

My favorite of ever when I was a kid was…maybe same as everyone? On a re-edit, same as everyone? Unclear concept there. In any case, the Melodians “Rivers of Babylon.” My dad would play this on the guitar and we would all sing. I really associate it with the special tickly feeling of walking on a new shrimp net after my dad made one, tied the weights on, and would spread it out on the gray painted floor of the screened porch downstairs. Walls and supports white, floor gray, ceiling sky blue—all these are mandatory Low Country porch colors. Our shutters have a spade cut out of them and are forest green; it is permissible for such shutters to be black. When the tide is high, then the wind is moving, and then you can hear all the palmetto fronds bustling over themselves in a hurry to get nowhere, and music playing, and my dad would let me drink the second half of his can of beer as I walked methodically round and round, barefoot, on the perfect entanglement.

{ 64 comments }

1

Jim Buck 01.10.14 at 2:59 pm

Lovely rendition of the gestalt prayer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_prayer

2

dn 01.10.14 at 3:05 pm

Ah, “Book of Rules”! What a righteous tune. I’ll always associate it with the unforgettable scene in the movie “Rockers” where I first heard it (along with the Maytones’ equally fantastic “Money Worries” – that whole soundtrack is really great front-to-back).

3

mrearl 01.10.14 at 3:57 pm

Steve Earle, of all people, does a pretty good version of Rivers Of Babylon. Of course, it always helps to have Emmylou Harris on board.

4

PatrickinIowa 01.10.14 at 4:43 pm

I’m not a terribly religious person most days, but when I hear this,

“So let the words of our mouth
And the meditations of our hearts
Be acceptable in thy sight”

I, without thinking, resolve to a bit more mindful.

As it happens I’m listening to the soundtrack of Rockers at the moment. This is the song that’s stayed with me the longest that’s on that one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLJFRgE4Ywk. I heard Chrissie Hynde do it once and was very afraid.

Thanks Belle.

5

mud man 01.10.14 at 4:57 pm

and there we wept
when we remembered Zion

6

Ronan(rf) 01.10.14 at 5:02 pm

You might be interested in the ‘how jamaica conquered the world’ podcasts Belle

http://howjamaica.podomatic.com/

a lot of the them are pretty interesting (imo, although I didnt really know much going in) and a lot music based

7

oldster 01.10.14 at 5:36 pm

I believe it’s jewelers’ “rouge” rather than “rogue,” but I’m only a vague gauge of orthography.

Reggae has let me down a few times–after a few hours or so there’s just a sameness to it. I know, that only shows my own ignorance, but I show that every time I post in any case.

Sad songs come in strange places. There’s a way of listening to the Beach Boys’ “We’ve been having fun all summer long” that makes it heartbreaking. And though it’s 2tone rather than reggae proper, I have always found something intensely sad about Bad Manners’ song “Samson and Delilah.”

8

oldster 01.10.14 at 5:37 pm

Wow–I didn’t know it would embed that way. Looks so large and obtrusive. Remove if desired.

9

MPAVictoria 01.10.14 at 6:07 pm

@3
Steve Earle makes everything better.

10

Mark 01.10.14 at 6:12 pm

A sublime Sublime version:

11

dn 01.10.14 at 6:29 pm

Also guaranteed to never let you down: Count Ossie’s “Grounation“. It just keeps on giving – I can’t think of another thirty-minute track that can make me reach for the repeat button so consistently.

12

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 01.10.14 at 6:48 pm

…for so long as there has been The Clash for him to be a fan of.

I could be a dad! (If I had any kids…)
~

13

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 01.10.14 at 6:54 pm

This is central to my point (which is on my head, of course).
~

14

NickS 01.10.14 at 7:23 pm

“Samson and Delilah.”

By coincidence I recently looked up the Rev. Gary Davis song “Samson & Delilah.” Great (and completely off-topic since it isn’t remotely reggae).

15

MPAVictoria 01.10.14 at 8:47 pm

Well if we are just posting recently discovered tunes…

Really enjoying this one.
Devils Got A Gun by Whitehorse

16

foolishmortal 01.10.14 at 9:13 pm

When I was 19 I used to have a reggae compilation which included an amazing Gladiators song apart from whose awesomeness I remember nothing.

Clues:
a)It is neither “Dreadlocks the Time is Now” (which might be their most famous song) nor “The Other Side of the Mountain” (which is just…transcendent?)
b)It’s the kind of song they put on compilations.

Any ideas?

17

JakeB 01.10.14 at 10:43 pm

Oddly (at least to me), the only recorded version of “Rivers of Babylon” I can recall hearing before is Boney M.’s version.

Which gives me a strange urge to take a break from listening to Eluveitie and put on Boney M’s greatest hits. Excuse me.

18

Substance McGravitas 01.10.14 at 10:47 pm

19

Belle Waring 01.11.14 at 2:22 am

When I heard the Boney M. version I was like “THIS IS SO RONG THERES ONLY1 VERSION!11″ OK, just checked. Nope, this aggression will not stand, people. No.

20

Belle Waring 01.11.14 at 2:26 am

oldster: ya, rouge. My dad used to work at a stained-glass-making thing where he beveled the glass for the beveled-edges sections but he made plenty bottlenecks before then so I don’t know how he did it. They don’t exactly wear out, though. Mmm, every kind of music sucks after a while, though, if it’s not your favorite and you don’t know a lot or have different varying loves. Sturgeon’s Law etc. And y’all were worried I love everything! No, I fucking hate Boney M., see?

21

Substance McGravitas 01.11.14 at 2:38 am

22

godoggo 01.11.14 at 3:59 am

Rivers of Babylon always makes me think of that round they had us sing in Hebrew school as part of our indoctrination I guess, which, if you don’t know it, you can youtube the version from American Pie, but I’m not linking to it; however Prince Far I’s take on the psalm is pretty great, if harder to sing along to.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDikbGLSdb8

These days I think my favorite Marley track is the 1971 version of Put It On.

23

Ronan(rf) 01.11.14 at 4:10 am

Perhaps showing my middlebrow tastes one of the few songs I really liked in the genre was

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMrNDnU6PPk

no one lese like Althea and Donna?

24

godoggo 01.11.14 at 4:30 am

I never even heard of them. I like it OK though. How about Musical Youth?

25

godoggo 01.11.14 at 4:33 am

A lot of my favorite reggae is the pop reggae stuff the Clash said ain’t got no roots rock rebel.

26

Ronan(rf) 01.11.14 at 4:39 am

@godoggo 24

Sorry dont know, never heard them (not something I know in any detail)

27

godoggo 01.11.14 at 4:51 am

You must be young. Kids’ group with a big hit in the 80s.

28

Ronan(rf) 01.11.14 at 5:15 am

godoggo – Just listened to it, I think I remember it vaguely but cant place it. Any suggestions based on your 25 ?

29

Ronan(rf) 01.11.14 at 5:24 am

Also, going through various links I remember Desmond Dekkers The Israelites – but it was redone in Ireland as an ad for an electricity company (iirc) – ‘wake up in the morning lots of hot water..’

30

Ronan(rf) 01.11.14 at 5:25 am

eh..

31

JakeB 01.11.14 at 5:54 am

De gustibus non disputandum est, that’s what I always say.

I throw out for the crowd, though, the notion that even if you don’t like old pop songs, country, or reggae, you should still recognize the greatness of Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, and Bob Marley, and if you don’t, there might be something wrong with you.

32

js. 01.11.14 at 6:00 am

no one lese like Althea and Donna?

I thought of linking this earlier, but then wasn’t sure if it would be too obvious, which doesn’t make it any less awesome. So, yeah, super song.

…And a giant thumbs up on the Boney M. (which, one of those times I’m so happy so pseudonymous).

33

js. 01.11.14 at 6:04 am

Also good:

34

js. 01.11.14 at 6:08 am

Well, that didn’t work. So again, Under Me Slang Teng

(I do feel we’ve moved a bit away from the spirit of the songs in Belle’s post. Boney M’s to blame of course.)

35

godoggo 01.11.14 at 6:10 am

Well the quote actually refers to Ken Boothe, who I really like a lot. Great voice, did a lot of covers.

Here’s an early hit that I like.

36

godoggo 01.11.14 at 6:13 am

That was at Ronan #28

37

Meredith 01.11.14 at 6:43 am

Sort of in response to PatrickinIowa@4 and Belle both, since I was at a particularly sad funeral today, in an Episcopal church. What do funerals mean to us? What about the music at those services? What’s it like to live so far from home that you don’t get to go to many funerals of an at least vaguely familiar kind (or maybe you do, Belle — why do I make that initial assumption? stupid of me, probably). The way music connects us amazes me.

38

godoggo 01.11.14 at 7:08 am

I love the professional cryers in Chinese funerals. I told people I wanted to know where I could get a recording and they thought I was crazy.

39

JPL 01.11.14 at 9:32 am

Belle, thanks for the Peter Tosh reference. We loved that LP, but our favourite by far was “Equal rights”, the title track. It really set the tone for the political ethos of the time against the “conservers” of power and privilege, especially in Africa, and it was a great groove besides, cool organ and sweet to dance to. How was it not a world no. one? Did people hear it in the western world of the time?

40

Ronan(rf) 01.11.14 at 12:19 pm

godoggo – he does have a great voice, thanks. I might spend the morning on that ..

41

oldster 01.11.14 at 1:35 pm

That Irish Electric Co. cover of Desmond Dekker–just, wow.

You could teach a whole course about that, about the interplay of various former parts of the British Empire, about the cultural triumph of African musical forms and their appropriation by the omnivorous maw of capitalism, about whiteness, about blackness, about, norms of bodily comportment, about gender, about–wow.

Another detail: the cod-Jamaican singer pronounces his “r” on the end of “Nightsaver,” as would the Irish family dancing in the ad. But the perky voice-over, representing the BBC, the Irish Electricity Board, and the mailed fist of empire, de-rhotacizes in the British way to “Nightsava”.

All terrifying, and fascinating. But thanks for reminding me about the original Dekker song, which is now playing through the headphones.

42

Hugh 01.11.14 at 2:06 pm

Dreader Locks, by Lee and Junior:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NIAvAoo7p-Y

43

PatrickinIowa 01.11.14 at 2:50 pm

@Meredith at 37. I have no answers to your questions, but as the man said “Who feels it, knows it.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grPFflH9OhE.

44

Jeffrey Davis 01.11.14 at 4:16 pm

Jeweller’s Rogue — sounds wonderful. Like a refugee from “Snatch”.

45

oldster 01.11.14 at 4:47 pm

He’s actually a bit character in John Gay’s “Beggar’s Opera.” Part of MacHeath’s gang.

46

godoggo 01.11.14 at 6:53 pm

That Count Ossie track is fantastic! Thanks.

47

James Schmidt 01.11.14 at 7:34 pm

Beautiful post! It brought back memories of singing “No Woman, No Cry” as a lullaby for my son (I changed the lyrics to No Baby, No Cry and it worked just fine).

48

godoggo 01.12.14 at 12:46 am

Ken Boothe’s version on youtube.

49

Jim Buck 01.12.14 at 9:10 am

Bessie Bank’s original:

50

Jim Buck 01.12.14 at 9:11 am

51

QB 01.12.14 at 7:02 pm

Come on people, Eek-A-Mouse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3M_R0Fdo_A

52

Hector_St_Clare 01.12.14 at 7:44 pm

Re: But the perky voice-over, representing the BBC, the Irish Electricity Board, and the mailed fist of empire, de-rhotacizes in the British way to “Nightsava”.

Most of the Caribbeans I know de-rhotacize, at least sometimes. Of course, they live in Boston, so maybe they’re somewhat assimilating to New England American English.

Caribbean accents apparently derive heavily from Irish accents (I guess due to the influence of Irish sailors, indentured labour, etc.).

53

godoggo 01.12.14 at 8:29 pm

I’m just thinking that this Trinidadian I knew had a pretty different accent from Jamaican. I’d figured he was from Africa before he told me.

54

Hector_St_Clare 01.12.14 at 9:05 pm

People from the different Caribbean islands apparently all have distinct accents. I can’t tell them apart (any more than I can distinguish a North Carolina from a Texas accent, or a Yorkshire from a RP-London accent), but they swear they can tell each other apart.

55

godoggo 01.12.14 at 9:12 pm

I’m also thinking of the poor little Taiwanese girl who seems to have been irreparably damaged by her studies in the UK. I tried to get her to use a a th instead of a v but nothing doing. Then again I had the same reaction to somebody who tried to get me to say “liu” in the mainland way.

56

godoggo 01.13.14 at 6:43 am

So I finally listened to that 1st song. Reminds me of I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You by Elvis.

I’m very much an early-70s reggae guy. You care, that’s who. Thanks for asking.

57

Belle Waring 01.13.14 at 12:39 pm

That Isrealites thing is truly terrifying. Everybody loves the Isrealites so much I sort of didn’t bother. I’m pretty keen on Get Up Edina for steady skanking.
The super-weird thing is that, despite loving White Man in Hammersmith Palais so much, and it having taken me about 10,000 tries to figure out the lyrics, I never really understood until YESTERDAY that they were dissing those guys so hard. Maybe the Jam in their Burton suits or whatever, but Delroy Wilson? Roll all the “R’s” you want about their “roots rock rebel,” fuck that–Ken Booth, UK pop reggae, that show had to be killer–were the members of The Clash like boycotting it on principle? Separately, why’s the white man in the Palais a junkie, I mean, was it just a shitty place or what? I understand if he’s up all night prowling for drugs, so he looks sick in the sun, that’s how things are, but…? It’s a given somehow, of a piece with the rejection of Delroy Wilson? I’m having an existential crisis. This has been my favorite song since I was 10, I can’t deal.
godoggo: I care. That’s who. I totally asked. Yes, everyong, listen to how love is gonna let you down! You thought Pressure Drop already wrecked you up the worst Toots and the Maytals were going to wreck you up, with sheer, heart-tightening joy, but maybe the quiet despair of seeing “you running to my door/and tell me that/love is gonna let me down” is going to wreck you up worse in its own way. “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” is a very sad song.

58

notsneaky 01.13.14 at 5:56 pm

And now something slightly different:

59

mick 01.14.14 at 3:45 am

Thing about Toots is he is one of the world class vocalists, like Salif Keita or Maria Bethania. Not the prissy ones, the real ones. Thanks for reminding me. I lived in Jamaica in somewhere around 1970. Scotty was pretty great too, and of course Marley etc. Prince Buster I think had a house shaped like a crown in the hills above Kingston. There was a totally smoking Rasta camp right behind the Prime Minister’s house. Trenchtown was a weird place; if you were white (and i was, I’m afraid) you were in no danger really, as it it was pretty obvious you weren’t really that white or you wouldn’t have been there. But Toots is it. Those two albums Funky Kingston and In the Dark (especially) are amazing.

60

godoggo 01.14.14 at 8:20 pm

My point was supposed to be that that was not early ’70s reggae, but apparently I was wrong. Not my style anyway. I do like the Elvis song, though.

61

godoggo 01.14.14 at 8:26 pm

I think I’m more of a rock steady fan, but I’m not always sure where the line is drawn. I mean, “Do The Reggae” doesn’t sound all that reggaeish to me.

62

godoggo 01.15.14 at 4:16 am

At least that’s what I remembered. Maybe I’ll dig around for the version I have on some compilation. Still, this is some better Toots to my ears. Sorry.

63

engels 01.15.14 at 6:57 pm

64

engels 01.15.14 at 6:58 pm

Okay, what’s the secret?

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