The Beatles-inspired Rub-A-Dub Soul, released today via VP Records, marks a full-circle moment for renowned Dancehall and Reggae producer Clive Hunt. He told DancehallMag that even as a boy, when his love for music hadn’t yet taken root, the British band had captivated him.
“When I was growing up, JBC (Jamaica Broadcasting Commission) had this Pop chart thing it would show on TV and one day, ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles came on. Even though I wasn’t into music that time,” Hunt shared, “the song made quite the impression on me. That song also was the number one song all over the world that year.”
That early contact with the Beatles stirred something in the Linstead, St. Catherine native, and now, at 71 years old, Hunt is paying homage to that memory. Rub-A-Dub Soul – a compilation of Beatles tracks that have been covered by Reggae artists – has Hunt’s signature style all over it. It’s a production the classically-trained musician has pursued for over ten years, and Hunt took a moment to reflect on the journey.
“You know, good songs have always made an impression on me,” he explained. “When I got into my own and got to visit many places around the world, I witnessed first-hand the impact of the Beatles. I’ve wanted to do this album for years – over 10 years now – but clearance was initially an issue.”
Fortunately, Hunt’s reputation as a musician, coupled with the relationships he had nurtured as a result, provided a path for the realization of those ambitions. Enter Patrice Bart-Williams, a Germany-born Reggae music executive with whom Hunt had developed a friendship.
“Patrice actually encouraged me not to give up on the project. He also told me clearance wouldn’t be a problem as somehow, his mother was connected to Paul McCartney – one of the members of the Beatles. So, he told me to go ahead with it,” Hunt revealed. Energized and recognizing the opportunity at hand, Hunt bargained with his friend. “I told him, ‘I’ll do it if you agree to sing one of the songs.”
Patrice agreed, and would ultimately cover the Beatles’ multi-Platinum hit, Let It Be, on Rub-A-Dub Soul. That decision, coincidentally, also proved a grounding moment for Patrice.
As Hunt explained: “Let It Be was the first song Patrice sung publicly in his entire life, so for him to sing it for me now on this album is a special and profound moment. He told me that he first came to sing the song while he was in a high school band. Apparently, on the night of a particular show, the lead singer got sick. So, the rest of the band voted for him to sing instead. He did, and he told me that that’s when he decided ‘Maybe I could try this for a career.’’
Patrice’s inclusion on the project was also a tactical decision by Hunt, who believed it would have attracted other notable acts.
He reasoned: “I knew if I had him on it, other people would want to be a part of it. So, you will find that it’s a wide range of very talented artists on the album, including Tarrus Riley, Barr Biggs and so on.”
Also featured on the project are emerging acts like Ala-Ni, who joins French singer Pierpoljak in covering Michelle; Danakil (Hey Jude), Yannis Odua (Revolution) and The Tamlins (Blackbird).
Tarrus Riley can be found covering With A Little Help From My Friends, while Barry Biggs lends his vocals on Here Comes The Sun. The Pioneers give their rendition of You Won’t See Me, Gentleman delivers on Help, and Norwegian Wood is covered by Little Roy.
According to Hunt, putting the project together was a resounding success.
“The major difference for me is I wanted this to be Reggae album, and we accomplished that. When you think about some of the Beatles songs, like Oh Gladis, that’s Reggae music to me, rhythmically. So, I could identify those elements that connected the songs,” he said.
Hunt continued expounding on his vision for the project: “I wanted to use my interpretation and the original musical arrangements of the Beatles. It was simple to me. It’s always easy for me to turn almost any song into Reggae. I incorporated a few of the original ideas by the Beatles and I believe that was enough to make each song presentable.”
Describing himself as perhaps the oldest producer in Jamaica who works as hard as he does, Hunt believes Rub-A-Dub Soul will be exceptional. “I am truly happy how it all turned out,” he shared.