Jamaica’s longest running band, The Jolly Boys, Bring Mento back with their cover of Amy Winehouse’s, “Rehab”

July 15, 2010

Words by DJ Gravy


If you think excess and lewd slackness lyrics in Jamaica is something new, you clearly aren’t up on The Jolly Boys, JA’s legendary Mento band who were Yard’s original rock stars! With a history in music dating back nearly 60 years, and their namesake a result of Errol Flynn’s choosing, these cats have a unique place in music history.

Back in the 1950’s The Jolly Boys quickly rose to local prominence as the house band for the Rat Packโ€™s Jamaica chapter, chaired by the swashbuckling enfant terrible, Errol Flynn (who threw parties regularly on his Island estate just off the coast of Port Antonio.) Singing songs of double entendre and ribaldry to those in search of escape and excess, the group served as Port Antonioโ€™s go-to band for thirty years. Being โ€œdiscoveredโ€ by a new generation of world music aficionados in the late 1980s meant that the Jolly Boys could take their musical party on the road. Several album, dozens of countries and thirty years since, the Jolly Boys have become the most recognizable mento band in the world.

For this most recent project, conducted by Jon Baker (owner of Geejam Studio where No Doubt recorded their album, “Rock Steady”) the theme that took shape was to cover classic punk rock songs, and in this case, a retro tune / faux classic by out of control party girl Amy Winehouse. Something about these older gents covering this wild Brit chic’s retro style tune about… well, it’s all in the title, is somehow surreal, ironic and comical.

The song, co-produced by Dale Virgo, (with the help of Mento specialist, Daniel Neely) blends traditional Mento instrumentation like banjos, maracas and rumba boxes, with a slightly more modern beat. The icing on this cake is legendary saxophonist, Cedric Im Brooks. The video, and its own behind the scenes documentary was captured by director, Rick Elgood (One Love, Dancehall Queen, Westway to the World).

Possibly the illest element of the video is Errol Flynn’s wife, a one-time Hollywood starlet herself, Patrice Flynn, dancing around to The Jolly Boys’ music, more than likely reminiscing the good old days, when anyone fortunate enough to be at their exclusive events got the memory of a lifetime out of the experience. Before making her cameo she said, โ€œI havenโ€™t been in front of a movie camera for sixty years darling. Please make me look good!โ€