Max Romeo has Fertile Wet Dream

 Max Romero Wet Dream UnityI missed this some weeks back but it’s never too late for a good read especially when it comes to one of the classics of the genre. Max Romeo made more then a few sweet tunes in his lifetime about many different subjects from Slack to Rasta to Militant, etc. About a month ago Mel Cooke at the Gleaner wrote
a little article highlighting the birth of this dirty little ditty called “Wet Dream” which has been covered most notably by Bad Manners I might say.

For the skinheads this is still a dancefloor masher and the story is fun and interesting just like the song is ribald.

Here is the text of the article published on Sunday June 7, 2009 as it appeared in The Gleaner.

In 1968, Max Romeo was bored. So he wrote Wet Dream and had a jolly fantasy ride to the top 10 of the British charts, meeting some skinhead ‘mates’ along the way.

“Obviously in the music business from time to time people try to find new ideas,” Romeo told The Sunday Gleaner, describing the 1960s as “disciplined and righteous”.

“As a youth in those days it can get boring. Is boredom spark that whole era.”

That ‘whole era’ was the ‘slack’ songs that followed, as Wet Dream found fertile ground, Romeo naming Prince Buster among the performers who followed in the same trend. But Wet Dream almost did not get off the ground.

Romeo told The Sunday Gleaner that the rhythm the song was done on was originally done at Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle studio for Derrick Morgan to sing Hol’ The Jack Me Tie The Jinny. Among the musicians who played on the song were Gladstone Anderson (piano), Jackie Jackson (bass), Horsemouth Wallace (drums) and ‘Dougie’ on guitar.

“fool fool artiste”

When producer Bunny Lee decided to record Romeo’s Wet Dream, they went to Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One on Brentford Road (now Studio One Boulevard). Dodd was around the mixing board and when Romeo started to sing he stopped the tape.

“Bunny Lee, where you get them fool fool artiste and fool fool lyrics?” Dodd demanded. “I not going to be a part of this!”

Lee was insistent, telling Dodd that he had paid for the studio time and no one could tell him what he was supposed to do. When Dodd abandoned the mixing board, Lee turned to then apprentice engineer Errol Thompson, who was in the studio, and demanded “Come een prento!”

And so Romeo sang:
“Every night me go to bed me have wet dream, Lie dung gal mek me push it up, push it up, lie dung. You in your small corner, I stand in mine, Throw all the punch you want to, I can take them all”

Banning Wet Dream from airplay in Jamaica was not an issue, as it was never released in the land of wood and water. It was released in England and after being played twice by the BBC it was promptly banned. However, in a mere two rotations, Romeo says, “It was established in the people’s mind. It was the skinheads who love it.”

It hit the British charts and stayed there for 26 weeks, moving from number 30 to the top spot and then back down the charts. When it got to number two and seemed poised to claim the top spot, The Beatles’ Get Back debuted at number one.

And it was in England, at a school in Gilford, that Max Romeo first performed Wet Dream to an audience of “skinheads and white kids” who were all excited. On the streets in Gilford, while passing a pub, a white man said, “How are you doing, Mr Blacks?”, to which Romeo replied, “Alright Mr Whites.” The man spat on him and the skinheads Romeo was walking with beat him up.

When Romeo sang at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969 he was told not to do Wet Dream, as the royal family was there. But when he had finished his performance, there were calls from the royal box for Wet Dream. “So I had to perform it,” Romeo said.

Not bad for a song that was almost not recorded.

And here’s a video for you too!

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.