A: Aubrey Adams - Cherry Island
B: Winston Wright - Peace and love
According to the great "Reggae going International" book (Noel Hawks & Jah Floyd, 2012) producer Bunny Lee was quick to record the soon to become festival song winner of 1971. A smart move, because Eric Donaldson's tune turned out to be a smash hit. Many producers followed suit and fleetly spawned their versions of the riddim. Joe Gibbs recorded three renditions in 1971, of which the vocal version ("Peacemaker" by SoulMates / Jackie Brown) was the most successful.
"Cherry Island" has snippets of the Peacemaker vocals dropping in and out of the mix, while pianist Aubrey Adams is let loose to fill up the space. Already a veteran in 1971, having played with Jamaican jazzcat number one Sonny Bradshaw as well as with Clue J and his BluesBlasters, the Soul Defenders and leading his own Dewdroppers R&B outfit since the 50's, you might expect to hear some serious firework. On "Cherry Island", though, Aubrey neatly colors inside the lines, chiefly following the 'stop-and-go' riddim and staying close to Eric Donaldson's original. And that is part of the power of this song. It's an organ version of a big hit, so recognition hauls you in, but there is more. The licks Aubrey lays down are progressing along the line. Further down the song the pattern becomes less rigid, and Aubrey plays more loose, soulful and playful. And by the end of the track, you'll find that "Cherry Island" makes for a very nice, and quite rare, addition to the "Cherry, oh baby" riddim.
Another bigshot on the organ is presented on the b-side. As a core member of the Supersonics (rocksteady hitmaker Duke Reid's band) and as part of the Harry J. Allstars (recording Liquidator amongst others) Winston Wright had already earned his stripes by 1971. His attack on "Cherry" is more boisterous and diverse than his colleague's. Starting off with a full on blast on the organ he gradually moves to a more subtle and, yet again, playful approach. Just like the great Jackie Mittoo (Studio One organ player), Winston Wright knows how to tell a story with his instrument. And just like writers, Winston's bestsellers are widely acknowledged and superb. But that is not to say his material that stayed below the radar is of lesser quality. In my book, "Peace and love" is one hell of a story..
Label: Jogibs (Ja)
Release date: 1971
Matrix: 7JG 3549 / 7JG 3550
Riddim: Cherry, Oh baby - Eric Donaldson