January 26, 2011

When A Cover Gets Covered: "Ain't That Loving You"

Jamaican pioneers The Tennors came along just as the frenzied pace of ska music began to slow into the syncopated drum and bass centered groove of rocksteady. Rocksteady replaced the horn-heavy ska sound with a greater emphasis on vocals, which proved to be the perfect vehicle for the Tennors' talented core of singers. In the back of a taxicab in 1967, they won over Studio One arranger Jackie Mittoo with a version of "Pressure and Slide"—a song that sampled from the Stax Records' single "Ain't That Loving You" by Johnny Taylor. "Pressure and Slide" became the Tennors' debut recording and one of the biggest selling records in Jamaica in 1967. Fellow Kingston artist Prince Buster sampled the popular song later that year, refashioning it as "Shaking Up Orange Street." Perhaps the most famous reggae version though is Sugar Minott's late 1970s "Oh Mr DC"—a track that helped usher in the dancehall era, doing what the Tennors' "Pressure and Slide" had done for rocksteady. If nothing else, what this brief history lesson proves is the power of a simple song. Or in this case, a simple horn trill-propelled riff. Taylor's original would made its own mark back in the States with covers by dozens of soul musicians.

The Tennors - "Pressure and Slide" 
Sugar Minott - "Oh Mr DC" 
Johnny Taylor - "Ain't That Loving You"

The Tennors

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