Reggae and soul have since the 60s had a fruitful and productive relationship. Rocksteady is for example more or less based on U.S. soul and the genre and its groups and artists were influenced by The Impressions, The Temptations and Al Green, just to mention a few.
Reggae adaptations of soul hits have been too many to mention and several of them have been extremely popular, one of the most notable examples is probably Bob Andy & Marcia Griffiths’s cover of Nina Simone’s Young, Gifted & Black, which reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1970.
France’s Undisputed Records has now put out a compilation where contemporary reggae artists cover soul songs, several of them bona fide classics originally issued in 60s.
It’s an excellent compilation that gives these nuggets a fresh and modern reggae treatment. It also presents these gems to a new audience, an audience that might not have been exposed to their parents or grandparents favourite songs.
Of course it’s hard – or impossible – to outshine the original versions. But Marina P certainly gives Wendy Rene’s I Wish I Were That Girl a run for its money. Same goes for the big voiced Maikal X and his cover of Bobby Bland’s I Wouldn’t Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me).
Other highlights include Diana Rutherford’s powerful version of Ann Peebles’ Trouble, Heartaches and Sadness and Faye & Mystic Loic’s swinging take on California Soul, originally sung by The Messengers, but made famous by The 5th Dimension and later by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell and Marlena Shaw.
Chezidek & Skarra Mucci’s Sunny, originally performed by Bobby Hebb, is also strong, even though it might have been even better without the fragile voice of Chezidek. Skarra Mucci alone would probably have been a wiser voice.
Don’t miss out on this compilation. It’s lovely that Undisputed Records takes reggae back to some of its roots.