Time for another reggae post. I dug this one out of the collection to include on a little vinyl mix I put together for a party at chez nous recently. Hadn’t heard it in ages and thought it sounded good after all these years. The label is great too – the horse is of the Trojan variety which makes sense as Horse was a sister label of the great reggae label Trojan.
Dandy Livingstone hit the UK pop charts twice in the early 70s, first in 1972 with “Suzanne, Beware Of The Devil” and then with “Big City”, which peaked at #26 in January 1973. That was back in the days when singles sold in hundreds of thousands, and everything from glam rock to American singer-songwiters to novelty records to quality soul to football teams to records your mum liked would rub shoulders in the charts (how about: The Sweet – Paul Simon – Benny Hill – The O’Jays – Chelsea FC - Shirley Bassey. Actually, Shirley was my dad’s favourite back then).
Reggae (or ska) made the occasional appearance too although I can only remember it as being either bordering on novelty (i.e Judge Dread with his “Big…” series) or with a pronounced pop leaning viz Dandy Livingstone. So I thought then, and in fact until a few hours ago, that Dandy was just somebody who emerged, struck lucky with a couple of hits, and disappeared. But in fact he had been on the reggae/ska scene for a number of years and had recorded the original versions of what would become hits for Two Tone acts The Specials and The Bodysnatchers. You can read more about him at Trojan-Records.com
“Suzanne, Beware Of The Devil” is available as a sort of Greatest Hits CD. (“Big City” is on it, on the link provided you have to expand the list to get the full track listing, it fooled me to start with).
(An anoraks note: On my single I notice that the dead wax matrix numbers are reversed viz a viz the labels, I wonder if this makes it rare? Hell, get a life man!).
Here are both sides of the single. Simple lyrics and arrangements, and charming.