Song Of The Day 6/10/2015: Boris Gardiner – “Don't Take Away”

Supreme, Incredible, God-Like Champions of Understatement: Like probably everybody here, except for the most learned scholars of reggae history, I first became aware of Boris Gardiner earlier this year through Kendrick Lamar’s track “Wesley’s Theory” from his latest album To Pimp a Butterfly. Lamar sampled Gardiner’s 1973 track “Every N–r Is a Star.” (And no, I don’t feel comfortable typing that word out. And another no, that reality doesn’t make me feel like a sad, put-upon “victim” of political correctness. It does make me feel like slightly less of an asshole, however.)

Sorry, got diverted. Anyway, that song was the theme to a blaxploitation flick of the same name that flopped pretty badly upon release, which I believe only got as far as the outer shores of Jamaica. The soundtrack’s found legs over the last 25 years though, and the high visibility of Lamar’s exceptional album has recast at least a little light on Gardiner’s long career. He was a bassist for a bunch of reggae outfits, including Byron Lee’s Dragonaires, the Upsetters and the Aggrovators. He’s also credited with piano and bass on Dave and Ansel Collins’ Double Barrel album, though I’m not sure he’s on the classic title track. I think I’ve got around 15 Trojan anthologies with Gardiner all over ’em. His own ’70s recordings are much closer to straight-ahead American R&B, including this sweet bit of pleading from his 1971 album Soulful Experience, which has been reissued with a mystifyingly different cover. The original is below. I think we can all agree this cover is more appealing across all disciplines: hairstyle, curlicues, font choice, the magic orange-royal blue color combo that somehow never fails.

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