Tuesday, 21 October 2014

John Holt

I was sad to hear that John Holt has died.  He was one of the early international proponents of reggae as part of The Paragons in the '60s and as a solo singer in the 70s. The headlines today cite him as the writer of 'The Tide Is High' (a global hit for Blondie) but I still think of him as the singer of the reggae version of 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' which was a hit in 1974.

The single came from '1000 Volts of Holt', his reggae covers album of songs like 'Baby I'm A Want You', 'Killing Me Softly With Her Song' and 'Mr Bojangles'.  John's is possibly my favourite version of 'Mr Bojangles' and I have versions by various people over the years. '1000 Volts' introduced most people to his gentle reggae style, a style that almost certainly influenced and helped create the lovers rock genre.

I never saw John Holt play live, which is a regret since those early reggae pioneers created some great sounds. Although he's famous for his cover versions (and he did a skanking version of Greg Lake's Christmas epic, 'I Believe In Father Christmas') he created some amazing songs. He moved away from his gentle love songs to heavier songs like 'Police In Helicopter' about the police crackdown on ganga in Jamaica in which he sings that if the police continue to burn fields of herb then the people will take revenge and burn down the sugarcane fields.

There were lots of sides to this under-rated artist who should've been bigger than he was. Do yourself a favour and listen to some of his songs in celebration of his life.

No comments: