Love it or loathe it, Record Store Day does bring out some interesting tunes. This year was no exception! I headed down to Reggae Masters in Croydon where Dub Vendor is now based, to join in with the festivities.

Looking at the list of new releases, I saw what looked to be the catch of the day, Earl 16 ‘Be Thankful’. In true Record Store Day style annoyingly all the records are sealed, so unless you know what you are buying, you are having to decide on speculation. With money being too tight to mention, taking a gamble on a record is an expensive risk. But this one was bound to be a certified killer of a tune!

The song-writing credits showed this was a version of the William DeVaughn Classic, ‘Be Thankful For What You Got’. The Curtis Mayfield influenced song became a million seller in 1974, giving William the biggest hit of his career. There have been many versions of this song over the years which I have collected a fair few of, and this is a welcome addition to the set.

To set the scene, let me go back and start from the beginning, focusing on the reggae versions. Let’s start off with the blues dance, party singalong anthem covered by Donovan Careless for Randy’s Records. The most renowned reggae cover, this became a staple tune in the house party sound system scene. It was released in 1974, the same year as the original.

Followed closely by Lee Perry the Upsetter produced cut, sung by the late Bunny Rugs of Third World. Cornell Campbell has his rendition of the song from 1977 for D-Roy Records. There are also two brilliant Larry Lawrence productions, the popular Junior English version and the obscure and only female reggae version of the song to date by Diana Heron. A notable mention is the One Blood version, which is the first version I ever knew! Winston Curtis’s bears the closest vocal delivery to the original. This was released in 1984.

There has not been a vinyl-released reggae version for a while, but there have been numerous soul versions. There may be some more recent digitally released reggae covers. Last year there was a wonderful version sung by Japanese artist BTB. It featured heavy use of a vocoder in the vocal delivery.

This year we are welcomed with the Prince Fatty produced version with Earl 16 on lead vocals. The versatile Prince Fatty is always at the cutting edge of bringing something new to the production table. With this track he has kept it sweet and melodic, maintaining that soulful feel of the original song, while Earl cruises effortlessly over the rhythm.

This is my Record Store Day pick for 2019 and my Tune of the Week, as well as being a notable addition to my record collection!

Listen and enjoy, or as the song says ‘digging the scene with the gangster lean’.

More info:
Prince Fatty Facebook

Mark Professor, (Wreck It Up Crew/ Stereocity Sound/ Soca Saga Boys, London)