NICKY THOMAS – GOD BLESS THE CHILDREN

Nicky Thomas - God bless the children

A: Nicky Thomas – God bless the children (ja version)

B: Jogibs – Round the clock

 

Although I was already checking some reggae here and there at the time, I got a crash course in reggae – no, make that:  a proper education in reggae –  when I moved house back in the year 1999. I ended up listening to loads and loads of lp’s and singles which my new flatmates threw at me. Night after night we just sat there, checking tune after tune. And if I wasn’t around for a couple of days, they’d make me a tape. One of those tapes featured this Nicky Thomas song and I rinsed it to death and beyond… Obviously, that makes ‘God Bless’ special to me, and I was happy to find me a copy. But the sheer beauty of the harmony and the powerful lyrics of the song would have swept me off my feet at any time, I reckon.

Penned by Jimmy Holiday, a gifted singer and even a better songwriter from Sallis, Mississippi (Usa), ‘God Bless’ was succesfully put on wax by gospel outfit The Staple Singers before Cecil Thomas recorded his version. The violins of the Staple Singers’ take were omitted on the original Jamaican version, but when Joe Gibbs licensed it to Trojan Records the company decided to add them again. Trojan did this quite often at that time, trying to soften the raw sound of reggae in order to break it into the UK market. It worked too: up ’till this day, you’ll find the violin version on most of the compilation albums out there.

Apart from tracking down the original 7 inch, the raw version can also be obtained through the killer compilation ‘Heptones & Friends meet the now generation” (Trojan & JoGib). Not only does this album feature the wonderful and very obscure “The Gardener‘ by Julie Anne (aka Judy Mowatt of I-Threes fame), it also features the Heptones riding the “God Bless” riddim (with added horns section) for their truly magnificent “Freedom to the people“. The latter is based on the Chi-Lites’ “(For God’s sake) give more power to the people” from 1971. And with that, we’re back at God and round the clock. Which also happens to be the name of the b-side of this 7 inch featured right here. Let’s take it for another spin.

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Label: Jogib (Ja)
Release date: 1970
Matrix: Dyna-JG-3482-1
Riddim: God bless the children (Staple Singers / Jimmy Holiday)

(originally posted on 17-10-11)

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