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Rivers of Babylon - the number 1 smash hit.
In the early 1970's a Jamaican reggae group called the Melodians recorded a song they had written called Rivers Of Babylon, based on Psalm 137 in the bible.
This track was their biggest hit and in 1977 Frank Farian selected the song for Boney M to record, I guess thinking it might have hit potential.
Originally Frank used the Melodians original lyrics for the song - see the Rivers Of Babylon lyrics here. Boney M first performed the song on a
German TV show and the song was very well received by the viewers of this program, and so Frank decided to release this song as a Boney M single in 1978. However
before he did this he changed the lyrics to the ones we all know and love, thus removing King Alfa from the song. In April 1978 Rivers of Babylon was released on single
and became a European number 1 smash hit, remaining in the UK charts for 40 weeks, The German top 10 for 23 weeks and on chart for 28 weeks in Sweden.
Shortly after the release of the single, Frank was involved in a dispute with Brent Dowe & Trever McNaughton, the original writers of the song, as the credits
on the record indicated the song had been written by Farian / Reyam when in fact all they had done was re-write the lyrics and re-arrnage the song in to the disco classic
loved by Boney M fans all over the world.
When originally released there were 2 versions of the song - the single version and the album version included on the album Nightflight To Venus. On the single version
Liz Mitchell sings lead vocals on the "Let the words of our mouths..." verse and on the album version Frank sings lead vocals first time through, with this version
featuring an extra instrumental part before the second humming part. Also in the USA a 12" version was released lasting for 7 minutes 34 seconds, and I
believe this was the first Boney M song given a 12" version. This version is very hard to find, but hopefully it still exists in the Sony BMG archives in Germany,
and makes its way on to a Boney M compilation album soon.
Frank has remixed Rivers Of Babylon a few times, the first remix appearing on the "Greatest His Of All Times Remix" CD in 1988. Rivers Of Babylon was one
of the singles take off the CD, and for this a 12" version was recorded, and give the subtitle of Acid House Mix. This 12" version was shortened and used
for the accompanying video, and the video can be seen on the Gold DVD and The Magic Of Boney M DVD - but on The Magic Of Boney M DVD the original version
replaces the remix soundtrack. In 1999 Frank remixed Rivers Of Babylon again for the 20th Century Hits album and also inclduded on this CD a remix by Doug Laurent.
Come 2006 Frank Farian premeierd the Boney M. musical "Daddy Cool" and a new version of Rivers Of Babylon appeared as the last number in the show, during the
sing-a-long bit at the end - suprisingly it was not used during the main part of the show, as I guess there was nowhere in the story line for it to fit in. This version
was given a modern feel that stayed very much in style to the original.
Rivers Of Babylon has also been used in some of the "Megamixes" done by Boney M. most notably "Boney M. Megamix" from 1992, "Megamix" in 1988 and "Disco Megamix" in 1999