As I asserted in an earlier piece, string arrangements – when appropriate or called for – have the potential to enrich a song (reggae included) Given Jackie Mittoo’s fundamental role in the development of Jamaican music as both a founding member of The Skatalites and music director at Studio One since the recording studio/label’s inception, I think it’s fair to assume that his decision to utilize a 32-piece orchestra on his 1971 album Wishbone was coming from, artistically speaking, “a good place” (“Right Track” would be the A-side of a 45 released in Canada, where Mittoo had emigrated).
But what about this 45 – a reggaefied take on an unofficial Scottish national anthem. Artistically speaking, do you support Tony King’s decision to marry “Scotland the Brave” to a breezy early reggae backing track embellished with marimba? Is this an inspired cross-cultural “mash-up” or rather, cloying crass commercialism? Perhaps neither or both?
“Reggae Bagpipes” The Magnificent Seven 1972
The single would find release in the UK, South Africa, Turkey, and New Zealand. Says the person who uploaded this YouTube audio clip:
“South African group that evolved from The Vikings, formed in Johannesburg in the 1960s. The group consisted of Emil Dean (Zoghby) (vocals); Paul Ditchfield (keyboards); Peter Michael (trumpet); Barry Jarman (trumpet); Harold Miller (bass); Jimmy Kennedy (guitar); and Doug Abbot (drums).”
Music History Lesson: “Scotland the Brave”
The Fiddler’s Companion dates “Scotland the Brave” to the turn of the 20th-century or just before — the tune sounds much more ancient than that, don’t you think?
“Scotland The Brave” from The Fiddlers Companion
“The oldest appearance of the melody Campin has seen was in a Boys’ Brigade pipe tune book from about 1911 where the title appeared as ‘Scotland, the Brave!!!’ Charles Gore say the tune appears to date from about 1891-5, when it was published in Keith Norman Macdonald’s Gesto Collection of Highland Music under the title ‘Brave Scotland’ and/or ‘Scotland for Ever.’ Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pg. 252. S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 4: Collection of Fine Tunes), 1983 (revised 1991, 2001); pg. 10. Reid, pg. 5. Reiner (Anthology of Fiddle Styles), 1979; pg. 16 (includes variations). Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965; pg. 50. Wade (Mally’s North West Morris Book), 1988; pg. 18.”