Artist: Desmond Dekker
Song: “The Israelites”
Album: The Isaelites
Song of the Day has gone all-reggae this week, featuring some of the most influential past hits, along with a few new numbers that are pushing the genre forward. Check in daily throughout the week to see what we have in store for all you rude boys and girls.
Prior to the monumental success of Bob Marley, Jamaica had a different figurehead of their music scene and culture, one relatively different than the lifestyle made famous, and perhaps even stereotypical, by Marley.
Desmond Dekker, with his hit “The Israelites,” lit up dance floors around his country in the late 60’s. The world took notice, and soon Dekker was breaking into charts in both the UK and the United Staes. “The Israelites,” which cracked the Billboard top 10 hottest singles chart in June of 1979 – coming in at number nine – was being played all over AM radio stations in the US. Most listeners back then admit to having little idea as to the lyrics of the song, which became tough to decipher with Dekker’s thick Jamaican accent and the limited frequency ranges of AM radio.
Notice a faster pace to this track than the reggae made famous in later years by Bob Marley and others. Ska, often mistaken to be a derivative of reggae, was actually the first around, and was used much more for dancing than its slower counterpart. Jamaican dance halls were common for such reasons during the mid to late 60’s, some still in business today.