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Other Nora Dean Recordings

Page updated: 8/9/13

The best Nora Dean tracks are described on the Her Classic Recordings and The "Play Me A Love Song" LP pages. Her other recordings ran the gamut from very good to average, with a the rare substandard track. These are described chronologically below.

 

Man From Galilee / Jesus Is Mine
This Peace / Through The Valley of Life (singles credited to The Soul Sisters)
(Produced by Coxsone Dodd, 1966 & 1967 respectively. Only available on as 45 RPM singles, released on Tabernacle.)

Pleasing, straightforward gospel material with little in the way of a reggae feel, released on Coxsone's gospel label, Tabernacle. Unlike her other outings with The Soul Sisters or The Ebony Sisters, rather than lead, on these tracks Nora sings in harmony with another (unknown) Soul Sister. Jesus Is Mine is especially plreasing.


Heartaches
(Produced by Coxsone Dodd, 1968. Only available on as a 45 RPM single, released on Wirl or Muzik City.)

A Studio One rhythm that is pleasing but a bit unremarkable. The same could be said for the lyrics, that warn that love can bring heartache. A rather conventional follow up to her Studio One and recording debut, Mojo Girl. But its far from forgettable because of that voice. It makes the track sweet and compelling. There are few tracks in all of reggae that are more overdue for inclusion in a compilation.
 


Rescue Me (song credited to The Reggae Girls, a.k.a., The Ebony Sisters)
(Produced by Joe Gibbs,1969. Available on the Trojan CD Dawning of A New Era - The Roots of Skinhead Reggae.)

A fast paced, constraining cover of the Motown hit that may or may not include Nora Dean.


A Testimony (song credited to The Upsetter Pilgrims)
(Produced by Lee Perry, 1969. Available on The Complete UK Upsetter Singles Collection, Volume 1, released on Sanctuary/Trojan.)

The b-side of The Same Thing You Gave To Daddy, the liner notes of this collection describes Nora's involvement in this R&B tinged gospel outing, prefacing things to come: "a rousing spiritual with Dean alongside Busty Brown and Lee Perry in the congregation of singers." Although her bit is short, her voice is unmistakable.


Big Boy And Teacher (song credited to U-Roy)
(Produced by Duke Reid, 1970. Available on The Trojan X-Rated Box Set, released on Trojan.)

U-Roy's fine cover of Chin's Calypso Sextet's mento hit Big Boy And Teacher is graced by backing vocals from Nora Dean.


Let It Be (song credited to The Soulettes)
(Produced by Lee Perry, 1970. Available on The Complete Trojan Beatles Tribute Box Set, released on Trojan.)

This gospel influenced cover of the Beatles hit is Nora's only know recording as a member of the Rita Marley-led Soulettes. Though the group is a Rita Marley vehicle, the other members do also get a turn out front, and Nora can be heard singing lead briefly. And to my ears, Nora's voice and melodic approach are evident in the harmonies.

For more on Nora's stint as a member of The Soulettes, click here.


Let Me Tell You Boy (song credited to The Ebony Sisters)
(Produced by Harry Mudie,1970. Available on Let Me Tell You Boy (1970-71 with Friends), released on Moodisc.)

A chugging, soul influenced reggae track with a lot of backing vocals by the other Ebony Sisters. A murky distorted production adds rather than detracts from the song. Conventional vocals and lyrics, but a good track nonetheless. Nora would later remake this track.

In 1998, Nora Dean gave her recollections of this track to The Daily Gleaner. She recorded it with fellow Soulette Cecile Campbell and a friend named Dawn. (By this, it can be said that the Ebony Sisters spun-off of The Soulettes, perhaps because of lead singer Rita Marley's increasing involvement with The Wailers.) Recorded for Harry Mudie in Spanishtown, it was a massive hit, staying on the charts for 6 months. When Nora asked a DJ how it could have stayed in the number 2 position for 4 weeks without ever reaching number 1, he explained "no money, no drop". In other words, without payola, the record would not be played enough.

As described elsewhere on this page, Nora Dean's Ebony Sisters would record additional sides as would an Ebony Sisters line up that does not appear to include Nora Dean.   


Want Man
(Produced by Vincent Chin, 1970. Available on Melody Life: Trojan Sisters, released on Trojan.)

A slightly ragged chugging backing, of organ, bass, guitar, drums and percussion as Nora proclaims her need for a man. A minor song, with OK but unspecial lyrics and vocals. The melody comes from the Jamaican folk song, "Mama We Want To Work". (To hear a recording of this song from 1958 by The Frats Quintet, visit here.) But most reggae fans would instead recognize the melody as the basis of a different song, Peter Tosh's "Fire Fire". 
 


Each Time (song credited to The Ebony Sisters)
(Produced by Bunny Lee, 1970. Only available on as a 45 RPM single, released on Lee's.)

A well sung song, but its is not clear that Nora Dean has involvement with this pleasant but tame soul influenced reggae track. Midway, 
 


Greedy Boy (You Want More)
(Produced by Bunny Lee, 1970. Only available on as a 45 RPM single, released on Gas.)

With a perky reggae backing, Nora bemoans, "What make's you so greedy boy? Why can't you be satisfied? " But Nora is not singing about monetary greed: "every minute, every hour of the night, boy, you want more". Fairly explicit sexy lyrics follow, and the song ends with some sexy moaning. You wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it's enjoyable adult fun.
 


Another Night (song credited to The Soul Sisters)
(Produced by Coxsone Dodd, 1970. Only available on as a 45 RPM single, released on Studio One.)

An inoffensive reggae cover of a song by Carla Thomas. (Thanks to Michael Turner for identifying this artist.) The vocal readily handles the song's unusual staccato descending melody.
 


Look Over Your Shoulder (song credited to Nora Dean and Vern)
(Produced by Tommy McCook, 1970. Only available on as a 45 RPM single, released on Jackpot.)

A very obscure single, as it never appears in collector's discographies. It's an R&B ballad with Nora singing throughout in close harmony with the mysterious Vern. Yet it's an unremarkable track. Nora's vocals are fine, but the undemanding material wastes her talent.
 


Ahmad Jamal / Love of A Boy
(Produced by Randy's, 1970. Only available on as a 45 RPM single, released on Chappy.)

Thanks to Olivier Albot of France for demystifying Ahmad Jamal. Although the title is the name of an influential jazz pianist, this track is a cover version of Miriam Makeba's "The Retreat Song". Nora's African language vocal is strong, including some free vocalization at the opening of the track, as in the original. Although the reggae instrumentation is unexceptional, Nora's vocals make this song exotic.

Love of A Boy wouldn't be worth a second listen, if it wasn't for that voice.
 


Must Get A Man / The Valet
(Produced by Sonia Pottinger, 1970. Available on Trojan Calypso Box Set, released on Trojan.)

Both sides of Nora's only known calypso single. It's unknown whether this was her idea or that of the producer. In either event, the arrangements crowd the vocals, the fast tempo does not suit her vocal talent and the lyrics are nothing special.
 


Each Time  (song credited to The Ebony Sisters)
(Produced by Bunny Lee, 1970. Available on Trojan Mod Reggae Volume 2 Box Set, released on Trojan.)

I don't hear Nora Dean's voice in this line up of The Ebony Sisters.
 


Love & Power To The People / I Shall Be Free
(Produced by Sir Derrick, year unknown. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on Sir Derrick's.)

Thanks to Mark Gorney for providing a copy of this rare single and the following notes:

Produced by "Sir Derrick" (aka Derrick Alonso Silent, a cop who was either in charge of or who had a major hand in the raising of the Dungle in 1966.) Probably recorded in 1971, influenced by Michael Manley and the PNP Bandwagon's "Power To The People" election campaign song. Male back-up vocals sound like the Maytones. The flip is a slow, brief, non-reggae re-working of "I Shall Be Released".

Love & Power To The People is a good song made better by Nora's voice, which is lovely throughout the track. She sings it straight, except for a "whaa" that sounds like it came from an infant's mouth, and a  bonus "ohwah" at the end. There is a gospel element to this song that foreshadows her later career.

I Shall Be Free is pure R&B, not reggae. It's one of her better R&B tracks. The vocal is unhurried and very enjoyable.


Greedy Boy
(Produced by Bunny Lee, 1971. Only available on a 45 released on Jackpot.)

A pretty good organ-led reggae track in which Nora sings about her man who can not be satisfied in bed. The lyrics amongst the more explicit that Nora has recorded, though somewhat mild by today's standards.
 


Night Food Reggae
(Produced by Bush Productions, 1972. Available as a 45 RPM single, released on Big Shot and on the LP, Tighten Up Volume 7, released on Trojan.)

A reggae cover of the Chin's Calypso Quintet song Night Food, a big mento hit from 1955. Though this is a faithful cover, Nora have enough freedom to sound like she enjoying herself. After all, the song is about a woman who invites a man in and offers to feed him some "night food" (oral sex). He is slow to figure out the double entendre and then turns her down. She calls him "half a man" and sends him away.

In December 2005, Nora Dean vehemently denied that this was her vocal. She is very unhappy that this record bears her name, as she finds the lyrics to be highly offensive. Upon further playing, it is possible that the singer is not actually her, but someone who sounds similar.
 


The Same Woman
(Production credited to "?", but probably F. Christian, 1972. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on Question.)

There's not much to say about this unremarkable track.
 


Miss Annie Oh
(Produced by F. Christian, 1972. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on La-Fud-Del.)

This self-composed Nora Dean reggae track is winner from the lovely sax and trumpet refrain that opens and closes the track. Like in the old mento song, "Hog In Me Minty", Miss Annie is having trouble with her coco field. But unlike the mento song, where a hog destroys the sweet-potato-like coco, Nora spots a man stealing coco.

Most probably due to the fact that she wrote the song, it's melody and tempo are wholly suited to Nora's voice. She sounds great singing the verse, which is a rich example of Nora's unique way of owning a melody. The chorus contains her trademark "Aya, aya, aya"s. By the time the track is over, there is no doubt as to who the best female singer in reggae really is.

The b-side, called "Annie Version [2]" is an instrumental version, with Nora's vocals faintly bleeding through.
 


Butterfly (Credited to Nora and Bunny)
(Produced by Ken Chang, 1972. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on Tropical Records.)

There's not much to say about this unremarkable track, sung as a duet.
 


Kiss Me Honey
(Produced by R. Williams, 1972. Only available as a 45 RPM single, released on Punch.)

Nora is sweet, upbeat and seductive in this organ driven reggae track. Originally a Shirley Bassey cha cha from the mid 1960s, the song describes a woman who wants her man to kiss her and thrill her without stop. Musically, vocally and lyrically, a giddy and very enjoyable Nora Dean song.
 


Mama / Man Walk and Talk
(Produced by Bunny Lee, 1973. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on Black Beard.)

The instrumentation of Mama is reggae with a huge soul injection. Trevor Court of Brackley, U.K. reminded me that Mama is a cut of the Liquidator riddim by Harry J. and The Allstars. The lyrics reference several Nora Dean hits. The title refrain recalls Barbwire. The lyric, "mama said girl why wont you go to sleep" seems like a sequel to The Same Thing You Gave To Daddy. The excitement over an upcoming tryst is reminiscent of the carnality heard in Wreck A Buddy. Then comes the lyric that she has "something in my knickers for him" . This, of course, recalls Barbwire and Scorpion, as lyrics about things found in underwear must now be considered a Nora Dean specialty.

Man Walk and Talk is Nora Dean's third and final reggae cover of a mento song, this time of the Chin's Calypso Quintet song Walk and Talk, from c. 1958. Thanks to Mark Gorney for providing a copy of this rare track. It's an OK reggae cover of an OK mento song, but it does not seem to suit the singer. Though her vocal is good, Nora seems constrained, and her voice is slightly strident. Nora's other two mento covers are superior.
 


Mama (alternate)
(Produced by Harry J, 1973. Available on the CD box set, The Story Of Trojan Records)

You don't have to fret to deeply over the scarcity of the above single. Not when, in 2011, an alternate take of Mama was released on CD. The lyrics are a bit different, with no mention of knickers for example, but the vocal and the instrumentation are both are both more pleasing.
 


My Love For You
(Produced by Vincent Chin, 1974?. Only available on as a 45 RPM single, released on Randy's.)

The hard to find My Love For You turns out to be a cover of the Minnie Riperton 1974 hit, Loving You. The instrumentation is similar to the US original (complete with bird whistles) with a reggae beat. I am not 100% convinced that this is -- or isn't -- Nora Dean.
 


Eddie My Love
(Produced by Bunny Lee, 1974. Available on the 45 RPM Harry J single and the LP, 20 Tighten Ups, released on Trojan.)

An uphill battle even for a voice as appealing as Nora's. First, if truth be told, the song itself is a bit dull. Second, Bunny Lee's arrangement brings little to the table. Third, the song is mastered at the wrong speed -- pitched fast by at least 12%. Finally, Nora's vocal is okay, but it's not one of her best efforts.

Mike Atherton, of Norfolk, England supplies some background on the source of this song:

'Eddie My Love' was originally recorded by, and a hit for, The Teen Queens (Betty and Rosie Collins) on RPM in 1956. I actually like the song, and so apparently did many West Indians, for it was reissued in Britain as late as 1965 on a label (R&B Discs) which was aimed at our Caribbean community. Even later, in the late 1970s, UK-based Jamaican vocal group The Marvels recorded it on an LP, so its appeal must have been enduring.
 


Never Trust A Guardie Again / Version
(Produced by Bunny Lee, 1975. Available on the 45 RPM single, released on Total Sounds.)

A good, sunny, loopy reggae song with nice period instrumentation and arrangement. It suits Nora's voice, and the vocal is emphatic right from the spoken word section that open the song. The only problem is that I cannot explain the lyrics. Much to do about the "guard man" who sleeps with a donkey, complete with braying from a background vocalist. Then Nora sings the titular refrain. No wonder she includes so many "whoi"s! If someone could explain the symbolism of all this (it is symbolism, isn't it?!), I'd be much obliged. A song that is plenty good enough that it should have been included on one compilation or another at some point.

Incidentally, Stanly Beckford's "Donkey Man" is a different song that covers the same lyrical ground. This leads me to believe that there was an incident that was notorious enough to provide the subject of these songs.
 


Sweet Dreams Of You - The Soul Sisters
(Produced by Langford Graham, 1975. Available on a 45 RPM single, released on Mart's.)

This Soul Sisters lineup is without Nora. 


Album of My Life / How Could You Do This (both credited to Nora Dean and Dansak)
(Produced by S. Binns and T. Starr, 1975. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on Trojan Horse in the UK.)

Musically unremarkable tracks. In a 1998 article in The Gleaner, Nora Dean remembers recording "Album of My Life" for Jimmy Cliff. "I remember when I wrote that song I was crying, because I remembered how I had to walk six miles to school every day without shoes on my feet."
 


Son of A Preacher Man (credited to The Ebony Sisters)
(Produced by T. Chona, 1975. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on Form and on Mitchville Records.)

A cover of the Dusty Springfield hit. Nora Dean may or may not be in the vocal harmony mix.
 


Que Sera Sera, a.k.a. What Ever Will Be Will Be
(Produced by R. Burke, 1975.  Available on Melody Life: Trojan Sisters, released on Trojan.)

A piano-based gospel opening moves into a bubbly piano dominated reggae track. But not before Nora's vocal begins. Its a straight reading of the 1950s Doris Day hit, which Nora delivers without any idiosyncrasies or backing vocals. Nora's unmistakable vocals shine, with more than usual vibrato. I can't imagine any other voice in reggae that could have imparted so much into this song.  
 


Don't Let Me Know
(Produced by Alvin Ranglin, 1976. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on The Blaze)

A static soul backing with an OK vocal.
 


Touch A Hand (credited to The Soul Sisters)
(Produced by Alvin EMcLeod, 1976. Only available on a 45 RPM single, released on Burning Sounds.)

Not bad, but not Nora.


Take Warning  / Warning of Dub (Ralph Haughton and The Ebony Sisters)
(Produced by Lee Perry, 1977. Available on the Lee Perry CD, "Devine Madness... Definitely", released on Pressure Sounds.)

If Nora Dean is present in this Ebony Sisters line up, I cannot detect her in their backing role.
 


Let Me Tell You Boy / Caught In A Trap
(Produced by C. Reid, 1978. Only available on a 12" single, released on Roots Man.

Let Me Tell You Boy is a remake of a song Nora recorded nearly a decade earlier. The production and arrangement are simplified from the original, except for Sly Dunbar's distinctive rhythm. The vocal version segues into a fair dub version. A good rendition, but perhaps not as distinctive as the original. It was also released as Let Me Tell You Something.

Caught In A Trap is a 12" disco mix of the recording that would later turn up on her 1981 Play Me A Love Song LP. As such, it's longer than the LP version, segueing into a dub version. Sly and Robbie are at the helm as Nora covers Elvis' Suspicious Minds. It's a pleasing track, but an unspectacular example of either a Nora Dean vocal talent or of a 12" disco mix.
 


I Must Be Dreaming (song credited to The Ebony Sisters)
(Produced by Sonia Pottinger, 1979. Available on the CD Reggae Songbirds, released on Heartbeat. Also available on a 12" single released on the Jama.)

One small and one large problem with this track. First, it's very brief at 1:47. Second, this is moot, as, to my ears, Nora Dean is not part of this Ebony Sisters lineup. The 12" single version addresses the first issue with a segue into a dub version, but not the second issue.


Merry Christmas
(Produced by Coxsone Dodd, recorded ??, released 1991. Available on the LP Christmas Time, released on Studio One.)

A nice vocal that seems mismatched with the drum machine, thumb-popping bass dancehall backing track. Perhaps an old vocal performance was haphazardly grafted to a later backing track. An a cappella version would have been better,


I Love How You Love Me/Baby It's Love (song credited to The Ebony Sisters)
(Produced by Sid Bucknor recorded ??. Available on a 7" single released Third World.)

OK reggae, but if Nora Dean is in this Ebony Sisters lineup, I sure don't hear her.

 

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