Saturday, 14 June 2008

Washing All Their Troubles away

We start with a track from Lee Scratch Perry's great Battle of Armagideon (Millionaire Liquidator) from 1986. A cassette tape of this album was always by my kitchen machine back then, and "Show Me That River" always seemed to come on when I was doing the washing up. It always seemed appropriate, with it's "Wash all my troubles away" line. But like a lot of Lee lyrics, it was just slightly crazy:


Download it from Rapidshare:Show Me That River.

Show My that river, Take me Icarus, And wash all my troubles away. Like that lucky old sun, I've nothing to do, But rolling in heaven all day.

Sounds to me like Perry's magpie, gadfly, creative mind has morphed "across" into "Icarus" here, under the influence of the sun mentioned in the next bit.

Then I found this Prince Buster Tutti Frutti LP in the 50p bin at my local second hand record shop; and the song "Wash Wash" seemed familiar.

Show My that river, Take me across, And wash all my troubles away...


Download it from rapidshare: Wash Wash.

Aha! "Across" here! Of course the music industry in general, and the Jamaican music industry in particular, have never been that fastidious about nicking bits of songs from each other. And before you Prince Buster fans out there start looking down on the Scratch fans, wait: Mr Bustamente nicked it himself.

That Lucky Old Sun was a big hit for Frankie Laine in 1949. It was written by Beasley Smith and Haven Gillespie, and was covered many times, by the likes of Vaughn Monroe, Ol' Frankie, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles. Here's Louis Armstrong's version.


Download it from rapidshare: That Lucky Old Sun.

This version, with its sacred, gospelly overtones, is clearly implying that the river being shown is the Jordan, and the point where the troubles are washed away is death. Or maybe the Styx, I suppose, but nobody ever got washed in the Styx, unless they got thrown overboard by the ferryman, maybe.

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