SINGLE REVIEW: The Jolly Boys – Perfect Day
Does anyone who covers ‘Perfect Day’ actually know it’s about heroin? I sometimes wonder. Getting the BBC to adopt this seminal song could be seen as a bizarrely subversive moment. But considering it was used to express the diversity of BBC coverage, and the song’s complex exploration of romantic expression, drug abuse, suppressed homosexuality and ego, perhaps it was not such a bad choice after all. Nor was it such a terrible choice for Subo, who has arguably reaped what she has sewn (however unfairly) in her ambivalent relationship with the media, and her ongoing struggle with her own mental health.
It is the song’s ability to express so much in such a simplistic manner that is the reason for its many reinterpretations.
The Jolly Boys, are apparently the most recognisable mento band in the world – the fact that I hadn’t heard of mento until I heard of TJBs might be testament to that. Mento is a style of Jamaican folk music that predates and heavily influenced reggae and ska. Imagine a folkier style of reggae with a slightly more complex rhythm and you’re there.
Here, with a version of ‘Perfect Day’ that is up there with one of the best. The instrumentation is different enough to be interesting, but simple enough not to muddy the song’s core. Best of all is the deep rasping intonation of the vocalist – the band has been together since the 40s so think veteran weathered. It adds an authenticity to the performance that could have been decimated by the, err, otherwise jolly playing. All of which will lead me back to the recently released album that this single is taken from. No substitute for the original though, whose sentiments are not so easily shared.
Release Date 20/12/2010 (Wall of Sound)