Toppa Top 10: Ten Classic Songs with a Melodica

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June 20, 2014

9. Crashers- “Flight to Jamaica (Cool Runnings)” (1981)


By the early ‘80s, the melodica had become so closely identified with reggae that the instrument was being used as a signifier to represent Jamaica. And so it is deployed on “Flight to Jamaica (Cool Runnings),” a funky, post-disco track from Jamaican keyboardist and vocalist Glen Adams (who recorded the one-off track under the Crashers name while working as a producer in the New York R&B scene), which transports the listener to the island not with standard reggae elements, but with the blowing of a melodica. Curiously, Adams, best known as a member of the vocal duo Ken and Glen and for his studio work with Lee “Scratch” Perry and The Wailers, also worked with Herman Chin-Loy’s Aquarius Records, where he was one of several keyboard players who recorded under the name Augustus Pablo, before Horace Swaby officially adopted that identity.

Little known at the time of its release, the song has been rediscovered and by contemporary DJs since it was remixed by Dmitri from Paris for his 2000 compilation, Disco Forever (The Sound of Underground Disco). —Jesse Serwer