The Kingsmen in Kingston?

Ok maybe not, but I confess the image did come to mind when I heard this story about the long unlikely love-affair Jamaicans have with country music. For a taste, check out Beres Hammond’s cover of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” In the story, there’s also a cover of “The Gambler.” I’m smitten.

This stuff brings a smile to my face, for some reason. I think that unlike most covers, these not only reimagine the music but reconceive its cultural value. At least when I hear it, it’s as if my rural, culturally southern, Baptist childhood and all the social threads woven into that music and place and world have been transported and resituated to the Caribbean - somehow the same and totally different all at once.

But of course your mileage may vary.

Anyway, the story notes that part of the appeal here is the quasi-universal power of good storytelling and, more to the point, the deep strain of sentimentality and love of schmaltz running through Jamaican culture.

And this is where my title comes in. Given the sentimentality and the fairly significant strain of pious, charismatic evangelical heart religion in the Jamaica, maybe Peg and the Perrys or the K-men and a few other groups who have (historically, at least) had a knack for good gospel balladeering in the three-hanky special stryle should try a tour of the islands, eh mohn?

If not, I’d settle for Beres Hammond covering “Tears Will Never Stain the Streets of that City.”

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  1. NG wrote:

    Here’s the Grace Thrillers (what a great name) from Jamaica doing the old SGM classic “After All”

  2. NG wrote:

    I now see in the comment sections for “After All” on Youtube that some folks claim the recording was not by the Grace Thrillers. I don’t know but there are lots of other SGM songs by the Grace Trillers on Youtube including Dottie Rambo”s “Too Much to Gain to Lose.” They also do the old Louvin Brothers song “Satan is Real.”

  3. Kyle wrote:

    I found the Reggae Goes Country album on my WinAmp freebies this past week. I am particularly fond of “Crazy” and “All The Gold In California.” I agree…some songs will transcend genres on their own lyrical merit.

    The reggae band that I have played with off and on for the last three years does a lot of country stuff. We’re often doing “On The Road Again,” and one of our trademarks is Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.”

  4. Michael H. McIlwain wrote:

    I went to Jamaica two years in a row and discovered some great SG music sung by some Jamaican singers. I heard Dottie Rambo’s New Shoes and He Looked Beyond My Fault, Rusty Goodman’s Had It Not Beem, and Squire Parson’s Beulah Land. The Jamaicans take good music and adapt it to their style. Most of what I heard resembled SG as we know it with just a little bit of an island flavor.

  5. Extra Ink wrote:

    Somebody was listening to NPR the same day I was last week….they did a big feature on this very topic.

  6. Videoguy wrote:

    I vaguely recall The Spencers doing a live concert video shot in the Bahamas, circa 1989-1990.

    Neat way to pay for the family vacay.

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