18/05/2018: “Baltimore” by The Tamlins


Randy Newman deserves great credit for writing the song in the first place. His 1977 version is also a very good performance and arrangement of the tune.

Nina Simone, also delivers a powerfully sung rendition, in 1978. This version is more similar to the Tamlins’ one, or more accurately, the Tamlins’ one is more similar to this. There’s a rich orchestration, but less energy.

The Tamlins are a reggae band, naturally their version has a thumping bass, and a classic rockers reggae swing. The brass calls out strongly, and is answered by a groovy piano.

Released as a single in 1980, the Tamlins’ cover of “Baltimore” was produced by Sly and Robbie, which explains the militant sound.

It’s telling that a song about the struggles of American city life can be translated so easily to the atmosphere of Jamaica. Some struggles are universal.

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