Keith Cole rides again

Saturday, March 16, 2019

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Forty years ago when Bob Marley and The Wailers' militant Survival was released, singer Keith Cole lived in New York City. The song that most impressed him from the album was Ride Natty Ride , Marley's salute to a resilient Rastaman.

Cole covered Ride Natty Ride in the 1980s with American jazz organist Charles Earland, but it was never released. In January, he released a self-produced version through his Love Bird Records.

“Is a song that meant a lot to me — always loved the lyrics. When I'm on stage I have to do it,” Cole told the Jamaica Observer recently.

His spin on Ride Natty Ride stays true to the one-drop feel of the original. He said the Earland cut had a jazz feel that the Philadephia-born musician favoured.

Kingston-born Cole migrated to the United States in 1970. Prior to that, he recorded songs like Music Alone Should Live and Musical Attack for producer Rupie Edwards.

After moving to New York City Cole worked the club scene but returned to Jamaica sporadically to record. On one of those sessions at Tuff Gong, in the 1980s, he recorded a version of Slim Smith's Everybody Needs Love and Moving Violation, with members of The Wailers band.

Recently, he re-released Everybody Needs Love and a cover of Rock With me Baby, made famous in the mid-1970s by Johnny Clarke.

Cole had a long association with Earland, a respected musician who worked with jazz luminaries such as fellow organist Jimmy McGriff and saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. In addition to Ride Natty Ride, Earland's sessions with Cole produced the song Honeybee which the singer has also re-launched.

--- Howard Campbell

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