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Brown Girl in the Ring (song) facts for kids

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"Brown Girl in the Ring"
Boney M. - Rivers of Babylon (1978 single).jpg
Single by Boney M.
from the album Nightflight to Venus
A-side "Rivers of Babylon"
Released 3 April 1978
Recorded 1978
Length 4:03
Label Hansa (FRG)
Sire (US)
Atlantic (AUS)
Songwriter(s) Frank Farian
Producer(s) Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Belfast"
(1977)
"Brown Girl in the Ring"
(1978)
"Rasputin"
(1978)
"Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)"
Boney M. - Brown Girl In The Ring (Remix '93).jpg
Single by Boney M.
from the album Gold – 20 Super Hits
Released 1 April 1993
Label BMG (FRG)
Songwriter(s) Franz Reuther (Frank Farian)
Producer(s) Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Megamix"
(1992)
"Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)"
(1993)
"Ma Baker (Remix)"
(1993)

"Brown Girl in the Ring" is a traditional children's song in the West Indies. It was originally featured in the game of the same name, thought to have originated in Jamaica.

The song became internationally known when it was recorded by the group Boney M. in 1978. Originally it was the B-side of their hit "Rivers of Babylon", but soon became a hit in its own right.

The song had previously been recorded by the group Malcolm's Locks, leading to a dispute over royalties. The song had also been recorded in 1972 by the Bahamian musician Exuma.

Origin

Children play ring games in many parts of the world, especially during their pre-teen years. In There's a Brown Girl in the Ring, an anthology of Eastern Caribbean song games by Alan Lomax, J.D. Elder and Bess Lomax Hawes, it is suggested that ring games are a children's precursor to adult courtship.

Boney M. recording

Arguably the most popular version of the song, Boney M.'s recording was originally the B-side to the group's number-one hit single "Rivers of Babylon" (1978). In July 1978, following ten weeks in UK Top Ten, five of them at number one, "Rivers of Babylon" slipped to number 18 and then to 20, when radio stations flipped the single. Airplay for "Brown Girl in the Ring" resulted in a happy chart reversal, with the single re-entering the Top Ten, where it would spend an additional nine weeks, peaking at number two in September. Liz Mitchell had previously recorded the song in 1975 with the group Malcolm's Locks, as the B-side of their single "Caribbean Rock". Mitchell's ex-boyfriend Malcolm Magaron was the group's lead singer. Arranger Peter Herbolzheimer accused Frank Farian of stealing his arrangement for the song, for which Farian claimed credit on the single. The court case ran for more than 20 years in Germany.

The early single version (1st pressing) released on the Diamond CD box-set in 2015 features the full-length 4:18 version. The single mix is also slightly different from the album version: the latter features steel drums on the outro riff of the song whereas the single mix does not. The four-minute single hit version (2nd pressing) has yet to appear on CD (as of July 2018). Rivers of Babylon/Brown Girl in the Ring single is the sixth best-selling single of all time in the UK with sales of 2 million.

1993 remix

Following the successful sales of the compilation album Gold – 20 Super Hits, Frank Farian remixed "Brown Girl in the Ring" for a single release, April 1993. The remix featured new lead vocals by Liz Mitchell and reached number 6 in Denmark and 38 in the UK, while failing to chart in Germany. The single also included a new remix of "The Calendar Song". A "rap version" featuring vocals from Marlon B was the B-side to most versions of the 1993 remix single.

Releases

12" single

  • "Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)" (MCI/BMG 74321 13705 1, 1993)

Side A

  1. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Funny Girl Club Mix) – 5:35
  2. "The Calendar Song (January, February, March...)" (Remix '93) – 3:14

Side B

  1. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Club Mix – Rap Version) – 5:35
  2. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Radio Version) – 3:58

CD
"Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)" (MCI/BMG 74321 13705 2, 1993)

    1. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Radio Version) – 3:58
    2. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Funny Girl Club Mix) – 5:35
    3. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Club Mix - Rap Version) – 5:35
    4. "The Calendar Song (January, February, March...)" (Remix '93) – 3:14

Recordings

  • Lord Invader, a calypsonian from Trinidad, recorded a version circa 1946–1947 in New York. The recording is now part of the Smithsonian Folkways collection and was only released in 2000 on Lord Invader Calypso in New York CD.
  • Jamaican poet, actress and singer Louise Bennett recorded the song in 1957 on an album of Children's Jamaican Songs and Games, re-released by Smithsonian Folkways (2007)

Charts

  • There's a Brown Girl in the RingAlan Lomax, J.D. Elder and Bess Lomax Hawes, Random House, New York, 1997 (Cloth, )
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