sábado, 14 de noviembre de 2009


"Rivers of Babylon" is a song written and recorded by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of The Melodians in 1972, and popularized mainly by the 1978 Boney M. cover version. The Melodians' original versions of the song appeared in the sound track to the 1972 movie The Harder They Come.

The song is based on the Biblical hymn Psalm 137, a hymn expressing the yearnings of the Jewish people in exile following the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The namesake rivers of Babylon are the Euphrates river, its tributaries, and the Chebar river. The song also has words from Psalm 19:14.

Rivers of Babylon was covered in 1978 by German disco band Boney M, with a version that was released as a single. Boney M.'s release stayed at the #1 position in the UK for five weeks and was also the group's only significant US chart entry, peaking at #30 in the Pop charts. In the UK Boney M. sold more than 1,985,000 copies of the song, making the single officially 3x platinum and one of the all-time best-selling singles in the UK. The song was the first single from the band's equally successful 1978 album Nightflight to Venus. Some controversy arose when the first single pressings only credited Frank Farian and Reyam (aka Hans-Jörg Mayer) of Boney M; after an agreement with Dowe and McNaughton, these two were also credited on later pressings.

Boney M. performed an early mix of the song in a German TV-show singing "How can we sing King Alpha's song" although it was changed to "the Lord's song" (as in the biblical quote) in the released versions. King Alpha refers to Haile Selassie. Selassie's wife Menen Asfaw is known as Queen Omega aka The Queen.
Just as in the case of "Ma Baker", "Rivers of Babylon" established what was to become a habit of Boney M. singles, namely that the original pressings featured an early version that was soon replaced by a more widely available mix.

The initial single mix of "Rivers of Babylon" is most notable for lead singer Liz Mitchell's ad-libs (Daughters of Babylon, you got to sing a song, sing a song of love, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah) between the two verses. On subsequent single pressings, only the 'yeah's were maintained. The full ad-libs however re-emerged in the US only 12" version.

The single mix differs from the album version by having Liz Mitchell singing the verse "Let the words of our mouth ..." with Frank Farian, on the LP, Farian sings this as a solo part; it is also slightly shorter, the instrumental passage before the last "humming" part is edited out, and the fade out is a little longer ("Oooooh of the power... yeah yeah yeah yeah" can only be heard in the single mix).

The single's B-side Brown Girl in the Ring was a traditional Caribbean nursery rhyme. When "Rivers of Babylon" had slipped to #20 in the UK charts, radio stations suddenly flipped the single, seeing "Brown Girl in the Ring" going all the way to #3 and becoming a hit in its own right. The early single pressing features the full-length 4:18 version with a chorus bit being edited out. The single mix is also slightly different from the album version which features steel drums on the outro riff of the song, the single mix doesn't.

Liz Mitchell had previously recorded Brown girl in the ring in 1975 with the group Malcolm's Locks her ex-boy friend Malcolm Magaron as the lead singer, and arranger Peter Herbolzheimer accused Frank Farian for stealing his arrangement for the song. The court case ran for more than 20 years in Germany.

On September 30th, 1979, Rivers of Babylon was sung by an estimated crowd of 280,000 people attending the papal visit of John-Paul II in Galway near Limerick, Ireland.

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