A Jamaican rhythm “with the smell of the sea” and an ear for the hit: how Donald did to record the first Argentine reggae in 1970

“Scaba Badi Bidú”, by Donald, was released in 1970 and was the first reggae song recorded in Argentina

“I was lucky and it happened, I did not imagine to put this seed to bloom”, sings Donald on the 2020 version of “Scaba Badi Bidu”, a song he originally recorded in 1970 and which, fortuitously, became the first reggae music song recorded in Argentina.

Yes. Before Calipso Deluxe -which would later lead to Alphonso S’Entrega– and the arrival of Luca Prodan to Argentina. He anticipated the “Chalamán” of The grandparents of nothing (made of Daniel Melingo), to the appropriation of “Going Mad” (Jimmy Cliff) in hands of Horacio Fontova (“I’m crazy”, with a single exquisite of Skay beilinson) and to “The Serpent”, by Miguel Cantilo and Punch. And it was also prior to the emergence of The Parakeets, The Zimbabwe, All Your Dead Y The CAFRES, who paved the way for subsequent waves: Nonpalidece, Dread Mar I, Mimi Maura, Dancing Mood, Alika, Resistencia Suburbana, Karamelo Santo, Leonchalón, Yataians

Donald McCluskey, the voice of indelible hits in popular memory such as “Tiriendo” and “Siempre we were companions”, He was the one who put it together, turned it on and passed it.

“Fernando Monsegur, a friend who was a musician, brought me a riddim from Jamaica, when he was traveling there. He heard some rhythms of musicians playing in the street and some of them sold acetates with that music. On one of those rhythms, which had only two chords (B flat and C minor) and no labels to announce anything, with my brother Alex and with Fernando we came up with inventing a melody and a lyrics. And that’s where ‘Scaba Badi Bidu’ came about “, Donald recalled in dialogue with Teleshow.

The song “Money Day”, by the Jamaican group The Pioneers, was the mold for Donald’s “Scaba Badi Bidu”, the first Argentine reggae

The pace that Donald refers to is actually a song by the Jamaican group The Pioneers, entitled “Money Day”. In other words, his “Scaba Badi Bidu” is an adaptation of this song. “It caught my attention that, at the end of the song, a voice said: ‘Scababadibu‘: something that I found funny and reminded me, on the one hand, of my brother Buddy (pronounced ‘Badi’) and ‘Bidú’, a soda that was at that time ”, he explains. “I recorded it at the end of 1970 and it was a great goal in ’71: they gave me a gold record because it sold 180 thousand copies”, dice.

Another peculiarity of this song -which was edited as simple and on its B-side it had the song “So so nice” – it’s your label: first, the genre of the song was credited as “regay”, evidence that it was a music still unknown in these parts; and, also, that it was recorded together with “Horacio Malvicino and orchestra”.

“Originally it was recorded with the Malvicino orchestra, reproducing and even improving in sound quality to the original version of the Jamaican rhythm. But at the last minute, the artistic director of the RCA of that moment collated both versions. And said: ‘This one has more of a recording studio smell and the other one has the smell of the sea.‘. Then he sent this last one, the original”Says Donald. And it adds another layer of mystery and surprise to “Scaba Badi Bidu”: “I never noticed that the label says ‘Horacio Malvicino’, I sign up now”.

Bahiano, Donald and Guardians of Gregory – Scaba Badi Bidu (2020 version)

Before the acetate that his friend invited him, Donald had already had a first approach to Jamaican music. “I had listened to Jimmy Cliff, whom I met and saw sing his songs at a carnival and on a radio. And I also loved the music of Harry Belafonte”Remembers Donald, who these days is the godfather of the third edition of the Argentine Song Festival.

“Later I did not cultivate the genre”, recognize. “I continued more on the side of following thethan reggae. But last year al Bahian It occurred to him to make a new version in lyrics and music and it was beautiful. He invited me to sing with him and the Gregory’s Guardians”, It says about the version published in December 2020.

Argentine reggae testimonials

This Thursday, July 1, International Reggae Day is celebrated for the twenty-fifth time, that happy, relaxed and spiritual music that was born in Jamaica, that has to Bob Marley as a banner and echoes in most of the world. The celebration, which began in his home country, is inspired by a speech that Winnie Mandela pronounced during a visit to Kingston in 1992: Nelson Mandela praised the ability of this music to “Inspire and unite the people of South Africa in their fight against apartheid”. In Argentina, and despite Donald’s antecedent, reggae only began to take shape in the 80’s.

We used to play at Café Einstein. It was all very under, gloomy: punks went, weird people … the police went, too”He laughs today Sergio Nacif Cabrera, guitarist of the pioneers Alphonso S’Entrega. “The leader was Daniel Morano, who hosted the radio show The Ghost Train: He traveled a lot, brought reggae and ska records. He was the first diffuser of that music and we learned reggae that way, from listening to what he brought. I will enter latter Rino Rafanelli and the music was consolidated, but Morano was the one who was directing us with the arrangements. In the 80s, Alphonso and Sumo were the only two groups that played reggae”, Describes those years.

Alphonso S’Entrega – Chinatown

The head of Luca Prodan it was governed by all the music he had heard – and had run through – in Europe. When he arrived in Argentina, escaping from heroin addiction, he brought with him all that baggage that was not limited to Sumo: one of the bands he formed was the Hurlingham Reggae Band, entirely dedicated to the genre. There he played Hector D’Aviero, better known as Tito Fargo.

“The HRB is a band that pivoted between Sumo Y Hey say, a ska trio that I had along with Superman troglio and Leandro Carrizo. We rehearsed in the same room and Luca noted the good conditions Superman had for playing reggae on drums. Then it occurred to him to merge both bandsFargo illustrates. “I think we were the first band here that encouraged the genre trying to reach that sound, without having the elements. Later reggae in Argentina developed better”, He assures.

“The reggae in me came with Luca. It had piles and piles of simple and What caught my attention the most were the tapas, which were marijuana plants with the chabones adoring them“, account German Daffunchio, today in The Balls but with past in Sumo. “Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Bovell, Black Uhuru… it was a flash to hear that “, the guitarist lists. “In the first Sumo we played ‘Regtest’. And later, the themes that he did with the Hurlingham Reggae Band They joined our repertoire: ‘The reggae of peace and love’, ‘Kaya’ or ‘No good’ ”, explains Germán.

Already in the second half of the 80s and with a scene underground more and more nourished, stood out All your dead: a combo based on punk but that encouraged other music, such as reggae … despite the reluctance of its audience. “When a reggae band came, I remember that the public -40, 50 people- told me no. The punkies they were saying: ‘It’s commercial music! ‘. I told them: ‘No, it has something social, critical, revolutionary.’ And they said to me: ‘Good …’. They put up with me, but they didn’t like it. With the passage of time, that changed ”, he says. Fidel Nadal, singer of the group.

All Your Dead – Go away

Those who made reggae a national passion were The parrots. “When we started, we had very little information, few records. There were no publications: every so often a note appeared in magazines such as Fur o la Imaginary Express. Later, I got a book called Reggae International, which was like a bible, with photos, info, history, slavery, the Afro community in Jamaica, pre-reggae music … all that re-formed me“, account Juanchi Baleirón, guitarist and singer since 2004. “Over time, that genre gave me a band of friends and a life“, Says and certifies:”We were the first to be successful doing reggae”.

“While Sumo had reggae songs, It is unquestionable that in 1987, with the first album by Los Pericos, a new page began to be written in national rock.“, sum Fernando Bahian Hortal, singer until 2004. “That’s chapter 1, no doubt”He insists. “Reggae here is done with positive energy. A genre can be a fashion, but Argentine musicians who like reggae approach it that way: call us hippies, call us whatever, but it is done from the heart and with a lot of desire.”, Adds the Bahian and drops a scoop: he’s working on A lot of experience, a 17-song album in which he will review his more than 30-year career. “They are songs from my whole life and it will start to come out towards the end of the year“, account.

Los Pericos – Police Head

When you meet reggae, you fall in love, you get hooked. You fall there and there is no way out: it is a swamp of pleasure”, dice Guillermo Bonetto, singer of The CAFRES and member of Los Pericos until the third album. “We were in love with that music and we made it. The outside sucked us an egg, which was not fashionable: nobody gave us a ball, only lovers of the genre. At first they asked us why we did reggae. And we didn’t choose it: reggae wanted us to play it”, He recalls with a laugh.

“Reggae is magical and in adolescence it opened my head. It happened to me with punk, but at one point I lost interest and was supplanted by this tsunami of sensations and possibilities. You have everything there: calmer styles, more warriors, it is interesting what he does with the body, with peace of mind. There is always a reggae song that will change your mood”, Closes Bonetto.