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After a storm, there must be a calm.
May 25, 2006 8:05 PM   Subscribe

Reggae and ska legend Desmond Dekker died today in London. In 1968, Dekker's song "Israelites", recorded with his band The Aces, became the first international hit by a Jamaican artist. According to his official site, the sixty-four-year old Dekker was still touring and booked to perform well into fall 2006.
posted by bcveen (82 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by horsemuth at 8:14 PM on May 25, 2006


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*lights up bowl*
posted by alteredcarbon at 8:14 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:15 PM on May 25, 2006


Desmond says to Molly "Girl I like your face"

ob la di
ob la da
life is gone.

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posted by isopraxis at 8:16 PM on May 25, 2006


Aw, man. Desmond Dekker is one of my favorites.

I want you to know, who's King of the Ska
The King of the Ska, he's right here on top!

posted by fandango_matt at 8:17 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by scody at 8:18 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by eyeballkid at 8:20 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by Jimbob at 8:21 PM on May 25, 2006


. (youtube video of Israelites)
posted by simbiotic at 8:21 PM on May 25, 2006


It makes no sense at all to say where you used to work.
It makes no sense at all to say how much you used to earn.
It makes no sense at all to say what you used to do.

This is the place of Fu Manchu.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:31 PM on May 25, 2006


Dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wailer.
Shanty Town...

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posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:33 PM on May 25, 2006


If i had the wings of a dove,
I would fly away
And be at rest.

Thank you, Desmond.
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posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:36 PM on May 25, 2006


Damn, oh damn, this is the passing of a legend.

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posted by fenriq at 8:40 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by pwb503 at 8:44 PM on May 25, 2006


Damn! I love his music.

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posted by First Post at 8:47 PM on May 25, 2006


Man, I was just listening to the Israelites not 10 minutes ago in my car.
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posted by DonnieSticks at 8:48 PM on May 25, 2006


Dammit, some of those songs have smoothed me through some ugly times. The Israelites in particular has one of the most soul satisfying time changes I have ever heard, something about right when the song picks up after the sloooowwww

"Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir, so that every mouth can be fed.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.."


It's like a mainline of resolution, hope and joy. I hope he's moonstompin' in heaven right now.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:49 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by huskerdont at 8:52 PM on May 25, 2006


Fuck. I passed up two chances to hear him live in the past two years.

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posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:52 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:55 PM on May 25, 2006


Israelites is one of the world's most perfect songs. Thanks so very much, Desmond.
posted by rosemere at 8:56 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by erskelyne at 8:56 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by ramix at 8:57 PM on May 25, 2006


He was a giant. Desmond Dekker, Toots Hibbert, Don Drummond, Prince Buster, Coxone Dodd... man, some good shit.
posted by stenseng at 8:58 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by zadcat at 9:09 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by MrBadExample at 9:11 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by Eekacat at 9:11 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by Down10 at 9:12 PM on May 25, 2006


. Rude Boy
posted by tellurian at 9:24 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by parki at 9:28 PM on May 25, 2006



posted by dhammond at 9:32 PM on May 25, 2006


Ahh, I see that Matt has disabled the cough tag.
posted by dhammond at 9:35 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by gergtreble at 9:48 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by greycap at 10:00 PM on May 25, 2006


I save these up.

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posted by freebird at 10:10 PM on May 25, 2006


"Israelites" is one of my dozen or so sing-out-loud-in-the-car-when-the-radios-busted songs; Desmond Dekker is a forever under-appreciated musical great...

Not specifically about him, but I just thought of a better way to show our respect to departed musicians than the clichéd "."

...in peace, man.
posted by wendell at 10:11 PM on May 25, 2006


I love "Israelites." Man...
posted by furiousthought at 10:20 PM on May 25, 2006


Get up in the morning, sleeping for bread, sir
Sold out to every monk and beefhead
Woah-ohhhh, me ears are alight!
Why find me kids, they buck up and a-leave me
Darling cheese head I was yards too greasy
Woah-ohhhh! Me ears are alight!

posted by jouke at 10:26 PM on May 25, 2006


Or better the commercial from 15 years ago
posted by jouke at 10:30 PM on May 25, 2006


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I thought Millie was the first Jamaican with a hit single?
posted by drezdn at 10:51 PM on May 25, 2006


I've had alot of great times listening to Desmond Dekker, his music just made you feel real good. Rhino's "the best of..." is a great album to put on at a party.
posted by sleavestherabbit at 11:08 PM on May 25, 2006


I can only hope you can get it if you really want...

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posted by trip and a half at 11:16 PM on May 25, 2006


I thought Millie was the first Jamaican with a hit single?

My sources may have it wrong, unless they mean first song written by a Jamaican artist, as Millie's was a cover. Not sure ...
posted by bcveen at 11:28 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by bardic at 11:47 PM on May 25, 2006


No way! Dammit, dammit, dammit.

Talk about an underrated performer. His footprint on music history should be a lot larger than it is.
posted by chicobangs at 11:49 PM on May 25, 2006


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posted by cell divide at 12:02 AM on May 26, 2006


..

oh fuck that sucks

I am so wasted right now I feel numb to this.

Desmond was a god to ska music...respect man, respect!
posted by ozomatli at 12:14 AM on May 26, 2006


didn't end up like bonnie and clyde

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posted by pyramid termite at 12:27 AM on May 26, 2006


Nooooo

Thanks, Mr. Dekker.
posted by redteam at 12:28 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by BillBishop at 12:43 AM on May 26, 2006


that's sad

not to ruin the moment, but how could the album he cut with the specials suck so hard?
posted by elr at 1:19 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:21 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by the cuban at 1:39 AM on May 26, 2006


I thought Millie was the first Jamaican with a hit single?

Desmond Decker was the first Jamaican to get to Number 1. Millie only ever got to number 2.

The Israelites was also the first reggae track to top the UK charts, in 1969.
posted by bap98189 at 1:47 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by jtron at 1:58 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by fixedgear at 3:03 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by Smart Dalek at 3:28 AM on May 26, 2006


. Man, I loved his stuff.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:26 AM on May 26, 2006


Very sad. And wendell, as a died-in-the-wool dot hater, I'll be adopting your classy mark of respect for musicians from now on.
posted by jack_mo at 5:01 AM on May 26, 2006


(this is not good)
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:24 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by helvetica at 5:43 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by prostyle at 5:54 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by dr_dank at 6:16 AM on May 26, 2006


Add me to the list of those for whom "Israelites" is one of the greatest songs ever—and simbiotic, thanks for that video.

"Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir..."


So that's what comes after "get up in the morning"! I've heard the song a million times and never figured it out. (I used to think it was "same thing for breakfast," but even in Jamaica they don't pronounce breakfast that weirdly.)

Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on May 26, 2006


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I saw Jimmy Cliff this year and he also rocked. Still touring in 2006.

Makes me wonder why the legends still need to tour to make some money. Not complaining though.
Then again the Stones are still touring and they don't need any more cash, do they?

I need to hear it on a Maxell.
Pete Murphy/Bela Lugosi/dub influences. Is that a green haze I see surrounding the creative team for Maxell adverts during the Eighties? Re-record, not fade away.
posted by asok at 7:01 AM on May 26, 2006


All men must pass, no matter their greatness. Desmond was one of the best at what he did. Still, it is sad to have him gone. You would think that someone with enough magic to put together a perfect song like Israelites might be able to cheat death too.

In a way, he has. Thanks, Desmond.
posted by Fezboy! at 7:13 AM on May 26, 2006


A few years ago you couldn't go anywhere w/o hearing "Isrealites". That chorus (Oooooh oooh the Isrealites) is so good.

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posted by Skygazer at 7:27 AM on May 26, 2006


Much respect to this legend.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:29 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by wheelieman at 7:52 AM on May 26, 2006


I liked his Pretty Africa a lot as well.

As for the first international hit by a Jamaican artist, well...
It became a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic reaching #2 in the U.S. chart as well as in Britain. Sadly, despite the great success of the record, it did not set a new musical style in people's awareness. 'My Boy Lollipop' was simply regarded by most record buyers at the time as an item of delightful, but lightweight, 'pop' . (Incidentally the record is alleged by some to have a young 'Rod Stewart' on harmonica). Although she had a couple of further minor hits, she never managed to consolidate her famous smash.
Millie Small

Israelites came out in 1968. Whether My Boy Lollipop made number 2 but not number 1 is hair splittingly moot and the fact that she did not write the song does not make it a cover--I know of no previous recording. Even if there were, the song was the first ska song to become an international hit. My Boy Lollipop was a hit in 1963 and, without question, the first international hit by a Jamaican artist, no ifs, ands or buts.

And Israelites certainly has some of the most misheard lyrics--the rap at the time was that the line

My wife and ma kids dem pack up an' a leave me

had fuck off for pack up.
posted by y2karl at 8:23 AM on May 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Or so some thought at the time....
posted by y2karl at 8:29 AM on May 26, 2006


Makes me wonder why the legends still need to tour to make some money.

Because the Jamaican music industry traditionally favours producers and labels, not artists, even more than the international music industry. A Jamaican singer or DJ could have a worldwide hit and get nothing more than the paltry fee he was paid for the recording session. There was also a bit of a blazé attitude to cash among musicians and artists - I interviewed Robbie Shakespeare a couple of years back, and he was laughing about doing sessions in return for food, on records that sold in the tens of thousands. (At least I think so - actually understanding his super-think accent over a crackly line from Jamaica was nigh-on impossible!)

It's depressing, but from a horribly selfish point of view, at least all the ripping-off has allowed me to see and/or speak to 20-odd Jamaican stars (or total fucking gods in the case of Lee Perry, U Roy, Prince Buster and Sly & Robbie).
posted by jack_mo at 8:43 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by rollbiz at 8:43 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by echolalia67 at 9:51 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by longbaugh at 9:57 AM on May 26, 2006


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posted by NationalKato at 11:14 AM on May 26, 2006


y2karl wrote "Israelites came out in 1968. Whether My Boy Lollipop made number 2 but not number 1 is hair splittingly moot and the fact that she did not write the song does not make it a cover--I know of no previous recording. Even if there were, the song was the first ska song to become an international hit. My Boy Lollipop was a hit in 1963 and, without question, the first international hit by a Jamaican artist, no ifs, ands or buts."

"My Boy Lollipop" was recorded by Barbie Gaye in 1957, but I concede the point. I was just repeating what it said on Dekker's bio on his site (and iterated in the wikipedia article), both of which were apparently inaccurate. I bow to your superior ska knowledge.
posted by bcveen at 11:20 AM on May 26, 2006


I claim no expertise but as I understand it, the transition of Jamaican popular music styles is that Ska extends from the early 1960s to the mid-1960s and Rock Steady from 1966 until around 1969-1970 when the dominant style becomes Reggae, followed by Rockers, Dance Hall and etc. thereafter.

My Boy Lollipop is Ska to my mind because, apart from the fact it certainly sounds like Ska to me, it came out in 1963. Reggae, as a genre, didn't exist then. As Israelites came out in 1968, it could argued that it was the first Rock Steady song to become an international hit. That certainly is how I think of it. At any rate, I have found that erroneous blanket statements bring out the nit picking when the evidence is obviously otherwise.
posted by y2karl at 12:07 PM on May 26, 2006


"The radio was playing, Desmond Dekker was singing, on the 43 bus as we climbed up the hill..."

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posted by padraigin at 12:42 PM on May 26, 2006


This is a link to a torrent of his last show ever: May 11, 2006 , unfortuately not the entire show. Registration at dimeadozen is closed, I don't know if it is being hosted anywhere else.

Nothing lasts for long.

Thanks Desmond
posted by bephillips at 1:08 PM on May 26, 2006


I loved his music. Really, really sucks that he's gone.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:15 PM on May 26, 2006


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posted by davros42 at 5:39 PM on May 30, 2006


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