Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday 45 Flashback: ‘My Boy Lollipop’

When this single by Millie Small became a transatlantic smash (in 1964), I was too young to notice or care. Now I come to the song with a historian’s detached appreciation.

What made this version of “My Boy Lollipop” historic? Well, the teenage singer was from Jamaica. This record was the first international hit by a Jamaican artist.

(The song was originally recorded in 1956 by Barbie Gaye, a white American.)

“My Boy Lollipop” also laid the groundwork for the coming reggae revolution. The music was arranged by guitarist Ernest Ranglin, a now-revered pioneer of both ska and reggae.

The session was produced by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. “My Boy Lollipop” was Blackwell’s first major hit. Within a decade, Blackwell would release breakthrough albums by Bob Marley and the Wailers, thereby re-ordering the universe.

It all started with this.

“I used to go to New York and buy R&B records and then sell them on to the sound systems in Jamaica,” Blackwell recalled. “But I kept tapes of everything I imported, and one of the tracks was ‘My Boy Lollipop.’

“I was playing the tape one night, and when I heard the song again, I knew it was perfect for Millie.”


Comb & Razor said...

definitely a landmark recording!

you know, when you were running down the points of the record's evolution and historical significance, i half expected you to repeat the widely-reported legend that the harmonica solo was played by a young Rod Stewart.

it wasn't, of course... Rodders has said that it was just a bloke who had the same haircut as him!

jena6 said...

I thought this was the other version. Didn't even realize there were two.

Undercover Black Man said...

Landmark though it may be... and cute as Millie Small was... her voice kinda grates on me. I wouldn't have guess that this had been a huge hit.