Scott found another earbug that I had more or less forgotten until I played it: THE ISRAELITES, performed by the Jamaican artist, DESMOND DEKKER. The record was released in 1968, and is one of the first SKA/REGGAE songs to find Chart Success going #1 in The U.K. and Top 10 in the U.S.
Desmond change his name ( Desmond Adolphus Dacres) to Dekker after he scored a record deal in 1963 singing in the Jamaican Ghetto "Rude Boy" style, which complained about the living conditions and hard lives of the young men there. Desmond had quite a few local hits over the years and became known in the U.K. where the hip people were fans of all things Jamaican.
In 1968 with THE ACES, his backing group, Dekker cut his international hit, "The Israelites," a song that combined the Rude Boy attitude with Rastafarian Religion. Desmond's syncopated singing and Jamaican Reggae Beat made the song infectious, but thanks to his accent few folks could understand the lyrics. That of course was no problem, you could dance to it and hum along and it sounded great on the radio and at Discos.
Dekker released many records over the years, none of which were hits in the U.S., but he was a major force in the U.K. where he moved in the 1970s and had another Top 10 hit with a cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get If You Want It." Although his U.S. career had peaked with "The Israelites," the song is considered instrumental in establishing Reggae and Jamaican Music as a world-wide music source.
Desmond Dekker died suddenly of a heart attack at age 64 in 2006 as he was finishing preparations for a European Tour starting the next week. Here he is singing his signature song Live in a nicely restored video with good color and augmented sound. Rock On!
A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.