The Maytals – Sweet And Dandy

• “Sweet And Dandy” as it appeared in the film “The Harder The Come”. Thanks to 25Million.

9.9 “All-time classic Reggae from Jamaica”

Released as a 45 (Beverley’s S.R. 078) credited to The Maytals, and also included on their album “Sweet and Dandy” (Beverley’s Records LP-005) credited to Toots and The Maytals. Both were issued in 1969 – which came first I wonder? It is a perfect ponder!!! I’m taking a wild guess that it was the single, and therefore go with what I perceive to be the original billing.

Shortly after Toots’ release from prison in 1968, his vocal group signed with producer Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s Records – a partnership made in heaven. The frontman’s songwriting was razor sharp at this time, and the group’s harmonies were now honed to perfection. The Beverly’s studio band, led by ace guitarist Linsford “Hux” Brown, were sheer dynamite in the late 60s, and were trailblazers for the new reggae sound. “Sweet And Dandy” was the latest in a long line of smash hits for Team Maytals and, in August ’69, was almost inevitably the winner of the 4th annual Festival Song Competition.

With reggae being the most prolific genre in my collection it’s a bit of a surprise to me that this long-time favourite didn’t have a place on my shelves. This shortcoming came to light while I was finalising my albums of 1972 for presentation. I thought I’d take the opportunity to digitally recreate the soundtrack album “The Harder They Come”, what with its’ historical importance in the story of Reggae. Thought it would be easy to do using my existing material (and I was right) but was a couple of tracks short, including, surprisingly, “Sweet and Dandy”. I’m convinced I did have it collected at some stage but computer database says no. It was probably on one of those LPs that’s been nicked by some rascal back in the mists of time. Grrr.

There is an upside to all this though – recollecting the tune gave me a great excuse for this post and, in turn, that gave me a chance to get to know the song better. Ettie and Johnson are both suffering from pre-wedding nerves, but the family are on hand to keep them right. With all the fussin’ and frettin’, it’s a “perfect ponder” how they made it to the dancefloor, but it was all “sweet and dandy” in the end!

All these years I’ve been singing “one more day for the wedding day”. Groan. In actual fact it was “one pound ten for de weddin cake”! As a result of my newly gained knowledge, this phrase is being sung several times a day at random intervals. Talk about an ear-worm!

It was the last gasp for the British pound in Jamaica at this time; the bill for the cake in ’69 will be one pound and ten shillings. The Jamaican dollar was introduced in October ’69, just one month after “Sweet and Dandy” had won the annual Festival song contest.

Eh-eh!

Ettie inna room a cry
Mama seh she mus’ wipe ‘er eye
Papa seh she no fi foolish
Like she neva been to school at all

It is no wonder
Is a perfect ponder
Why they were dancin’ in dat bal’room las’ night

Eh-eh!

Johnson inna room a fret
Uncle seh ‘im mus’ wuol’ up ‘im head
Auntie seh ‘e no fi foolish
Like it’s not time for his weddin’ day

It is no wonder
Is a perfect ponder
Why they were dancin’ in dat bal’room las’ night

One poun’ ten for de weddin’ cake
Twenty bokkle of cola wine
All di people-dem dress up inna white
Fi go h’eat off Johnson weddin’ cake

It is no wonder
Is a perfect ponder
Why they were dancin’ in dat bal’room las’ night

Eh! But they were…
Sweet an’ dandy, sweet an’ dandy, sweet an’ dandy, sweet an’ dandy
Sweet an’ dandy, sweet an’ dandy, sweet an’ dandy, o la
They were sweet an’ dan-deh, they were sweet an’ dan-deh
They were sweet an’ dan-deh, they were sweet an’ dan-deh

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to refrain from randomly bursting out with “One poun’ ten for de weddin’ cake” at various points in your day. Can you resist?

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