Stranger Cole – Rough & Tough, Baba Brooks – Country Town (1962)

“Stranger Cole had already penned one hit, Eric ‘Monty’ Morris’ ‘In and out the Window,’ before producer Duke Reid gave him a shot at recording his own songs. Rough and Tough was one of the first the singer cut, assuming he had actually written it. There are conflicting stories about this number. One entertaining tale credits the lyrics to Lee Perry, who was incensed when Reid handed it to the untried Cole to sing. When he complained, the producer settled the matter with his fist. Cole, however, begged to differ and insisted he composed the song himself in response to his girlfriend flirting with another man. In any event, it’s a tough little number, although the suave teen, sounding older than his years, delivers the devastating lyrics with a nonchalant flair that’s all the more insulting. Duke Reid’s All Stars, comprised from an aggregate of future Skatalites, lay down a suitably punchy rhythm, all jumped-up beats, pushy harmonica, and strident trumpet, courtesy of Baba Brooks. Released in 1962, ‘Rough’ tussled its way to the top of the Jamaican chart and fought off all contenders for months thereafter. Stranger Cole was a stranger no longer to his island home.”

Soundcloud: “Rough and Tough” Stranger Cole (Duke Reid)” (Video)

YouTube: Rough & Tough, Baba Brooks – Country Town


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