Rivers of Babylon (4:17)

Cover of Remix 2005

From Remix 2005 and 180 other releases

“Rivers of Babylon” is a rastafarian song written and recorded by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of the Jamaican reggae group The Melodians in 1970. Rivers of Babylon was covered in 1978 by Germany-based 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 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK Boney M. sold more than 1,985,000 copies of the song, meaning the single was awarded a platinum disc and is one of the top ten all-time best-selling singles in the UK. In Canada, the song was a Top 25 hit on the RPM Magazine top 100 singles chart and reached #9 on the Adult Contemporary chart. 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.

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