Oct 182010

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

For most of the world, “Jamaican music” means one thing: reggae. Now, this isn’t totally off base. But reggae didn’t come about until the late 1960s. Surely something came before. Of course it did. That something (or one of those somethings) was “mento.”

You could be forgiven for confusing the two. Both emphasize the backbeats, lazily meandering along. Mento, though, comes from African folk traditions and features a more acoustic sound. Mentomusic.com offers loads of insights, including a fascinating piece on mento’s influence on Bob Marley. Whether you’ve heard of the genre or not, you almost certainly know one example: “Day-O (The Banana Boat),” a mento song sold as calypso because Americans didn’t know the difference.

No discussion about mento omits the Jolly Boys. Recording since the ‘50s, this shifting cast of characters didn’t become popular until the ‘80s, spearheading a minor mento resurgence. Their last studio album dropped in 1991, but the group returns this year with Great Expectation. The lead single is a mento-fied cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” The video gives you a feel for the genre and the scene as the band performs onstage while a solitary woman swivels and sways.

The Jolly Boys – Rehab (Amy Winehouse cover)

Check out more Jolly Boys at their website.

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  3 Responses to “Song of the Day: The Jolly Boys, “Rehab” (Amy Winehouse cover)”

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  1. I love this. When the Amy version came on my radio I usually reached for the off button. It irritated me, frankly. Then one night recently, driving through London late at night after a Moody Blues concert, this version came on the radio on the great Steve Lamacq’s show on BBC Radio 2. Instant appeal. Googled it, bought the album and now wondering how I had never heard of them, or indeed, heard of mento! Check out the album folks. Track listing here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/665c

  2. Really was these guys never eXcelled here in the states…only those fortunate enough to travel abroad witnessed this greatness …. The garbage that’s making Billions here is. Rap music slowchilly clothed drunk addicts potheads and highschool drop outs are the heroes of most millennials

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