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Yellowman's tasty serving of Blueberry Hill

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

IT was a royal salute. Yellowman, the dancehall king, covering rock and roll legend Fats Domino's 1956 standard, Blueberry Hill.

Released in 1987, Yellowman's version topped Jamaican charts for several weeks. The ballad, a big difference from the risque numbers he was known for, remains one of his biggest hits.

Domino, one of the artistes who announced rock and roll in the 1950s, died in his native New Orleans on October 24. He was 89.

Blueberry Hill, Jamaican style, was co-produced by Burtland Dixon for Kangol Records.

It was mixed at Tuff Gong Records by a young engineer named Tony Kelly. Blueberry Hill, he recalled in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, was one of his first major projects.

“Me do some stuff wid people like Dennis Starr, Black Solidarity, Redman (Hugh James) an' Fatis (Philip Burrell), but the Yellowman song was jus' different because it wasn't a reggae song,” he said.

Kelly was aware of Domino's version, which was released at the height of the rock and roll craze in the United States.

With Yellowman's take, he did not go overboard and try for a special mix.

“Dem days as a youth yuh neva try be too creative. Is like yuh shining a shoes an' yuh put on di right amount a polish,” he said

Blueberry Hill did so well for Yellowman, he followed up with Three Nights A Week, another Domino hit.

Kelly was familiar with Yellowman's success with the Volcano record label in the early 1980s, but it was not until touring as an engineer with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers late that decade, he grasped the magnitude of the deejay's popularity

“We were in Curacao an' he had three songs in their top 10 chart. None of us ever heard of those songs,” Kelly recalled.

Yellowman met Fats Domino when the singer performed in Jamaica in the 1980s. He presented him with copies of his Blueberry Hill.

Tony Kelly became a top dancehall producer, arguably the most successful of the past 25 years. His hits include Oysters and Conch by Beenie Man; Worker Man by Patra and Like Glue by Sean Paul.