Redman On Sanchez’s 'Old Friend': “I Never Liked This Cover Thing, Enuh”

Reggae singer Sanchez stands out for his unique approach to covering songs by both local and international artists. His rendition of Phyllis Hyman’s 1986 hit Old Friend was a prime example, which turned out to be a sensational hit.

Yet, the producer behind the track, Hugh ‘Redman’ James, initially resisted covering other artists’ work.

“I never liked this cover ting enuh,” Redman recently told DancehallMag. “But, I was ‘the man’ [during] that time. People gravitated to my music. When an artist come, him coulda small likkle more, mi a record him and the tune dem hit!”

Sanzhez’s cover was released in 1988 on Redman’s Dangerous riddim. Now, some 35 years later, the track is one of 40 featured on a reggae anthology dubbed ‘Redman International— We Run Things’—a compilation of some of his greatest productions over the last few decades.

Redman International_We Run Things

Redman’s decision to record the cover was influenced by the song’s lyrical content, as he generally avoided producing risqué music. “I never entertained slackness. It’s not good for me, and it’s not good for you, neither for the business… come clean. If I going to record a song and it’s not fit for airplay, why should I record it?” he said.

Despite not having seen Sanchez in over 25 years, James hopes for a future reunion. However, he believes that Sanchez’s career could have benefited from more original songs. “That’s what I was striving for. When you do adapted songs, it’s very little percentage yuh get, so didn’t like it. It’s not that I’m ‘craven’ [greedy] OK?” he said. 

Known as the “man with the golden voice,” Sanchez first started out singing in church—one of his earliest hits was the Christian go-to Amazing Grace.  He has released over 30 albums since the 1980s, including Simply Being Me (2000), Stays On My Mind (2002), Now & Forever (2009), and Love You More (2011), which entered the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.

His soulful covers of R&B and Pop songs have undoubtedly made him one of Jamaica’s best contemporary Reggae singers.  They include Larry Graham’s One In A Million, Britney Spears’ Sometimes, Lionel Richie’s Stuck On You, Tevin Campbell’s Can We Talk, Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You, Chris De Burgh’s Lady In Red, and Charley Pride’s Someone Loves You Honey.

Last year, Sanchez recorded a cover version of American Gospel singer Jen Johnson’s international Gospel hit, Goodness of God.  

At the time, the singer lamented that Jamaica hadn’t given him the recognition and respect he deserved. “I know that the people of Jamaica love my music because everywhere I go they show me a lot of love and support. However, I cannot understand why after 30 years of success my country has never seen it fit to honour me for the work that I’ve done in Reggae music,” he said.

Added Sanchez: “Despite the lack of recognition for my work in my homeland I will continue to represent Jamaica wherever I go. God has blessed me with the talent to sing and I will keep on singing for my fans at home and abroad.”

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