Baddest Jamaican Cover Versions

Maxi Priest, as is well known, is never afraid to court a little controversy and, as such, we boldly release our list of the Baddest Jamaican Cover Versions ever recorded. Yes, we know the list omits many great songs, and yes, the list could go on forever, but this is OUR list, so go ahead and argue about it!

“Now That We’ve Found Love” – Third World – Very few people can take a song originally sung by the legendary O’Jays and say they’ve taken that song to a whole new level. But take a few minutes to listen to the original version, which was recorded in 1973 and features Eddie Levert, one of R&B’s greatest “shouters” on lead vocals and then listen to Third World’s 1979 version featuring powerful, foot-stomping, goosebump-inducing vocals by Bunny Rugs, one of Reggae music’s finest voices. Sorry, O’Jays, from the day they recorded it, this song belonged to Third World. (While you’re at it, check out Heavy D & the Boyz’ 1991 hip-hop classic which features the chorus from this song sung by Guy’s Aaron Hall.”

“Baltimore” – Tamlins – This song was originally recorded by Randy Newman in 1977 and that version is justifiably known for its wistful, mournful quality. The Tamlins’ 1979 version, however, anchored by a moody drum and bass from legendary production duo Sly & Robbie, is a haunting and majestic classic.

“I Go Crazy” – Courtney John – For my money Courtney John (aka Yogi) manages to imbue this song with a depth of feeling far above that of Paul Davis’ 1977 original.

“Walk Away From Love” – Bitty Mclean - Its not often that someone covers an original recording of the legendary Temptations lead singer David Ruffin and owns that song so completely that people don’t even recognize it’s a cover. Bitty’s earnest, pleading vocals are beautifully underpinned by an authentic Treasure Isle, rocksteady-style rhythm. Ruffin’s classic version was released in 1975 and Bitty’s masterpiece came out in 2004.

“Little Green Apples” – Dennis Brown – The Crown Prince of Reggae was possessed of such a beautiful voice that he could make any song, no matter its origins, his own. “Little Green Apples”, originally recorded by Roger Miller in 1968, is no exception. The song won its writer Bobby Russell, Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Country Song that same year. More recently, Jamaican singer Christopher Martin has also recorded a noteworthy version.

“I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” – Sanchez – If ever there was a Jamaican artiste who made a name for himself by doing impeccable, but unique, cover versions it would be Kevin Anthony “Sanchez” Jackson aka the Golden Voice of Reggae. “I’m Never Gonna Fall in Love” was originally recorded by Lonnie Donegan in 1962 with its most famous version being the Tom Jones classic released in 1967. Many of you will also recall Sanchez’s versions of “Baby Can I Hold You” written and released by Tracy Chapman in 1989 and 1993’s “Tell it Like it Is”, originally recorded by Aaron Neville in 1966. Sanchez has also covered “Lonely Wont Leave Me Alone” which was originally recorded by Jermaine Jackson in 1986. Sanchez’ version was produced by the legendary Winston Riley of the Techniques label and recorded in 1988.

“(Something Inside) So Strong” – Ghost – Originally written and recorded by British singer-songwriter Labi Siffre and released in 1987, this song is an anti-apartheid anthem which peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart but has since become inextricably linked to dancehall singjay Ghost whose passionate (and high pitched) performances are legendary.

“Some Guys Have all the Luck” – Maxi Priest – Originally recorded by the Persuaders in 1973 and then by Robert Palmer and the inimitable Rod Stewart in 1982 and 1984 respectively, Stewart’s version quickly became a rock classic but Maxi’s version, with an uptempo one-drop reggae riddim and peerless vocals, is unquestionably a masterpiece.