14 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In the mid-‘60s, the frantic beats of ska started to give way to the languid tempos and soul-influenced vocal harmonies of rocksteady. Some listeners treat rocksteady as a transitional style, one that paved the way for the ultimate emergence of reggae at the close of the decade. But recordings by rocksteady outfits like The Techniques, The Paragons, and The Eternals are as remarkable as any of the finest music of the roots era that followed. The Paragons’ On the Beach—recorded for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle imprint in 1967—is arguably the definitive rocksteady LP. Not only does it boast remarkable singing and musicianship; it serves as a vehicle for the songwriting talent of group leader John Holt. He would record innumerable hits for producers like Bunny Lee, Phil Pratt, King Tubby, and Junjo Lawes in future decades, but it was for Duke Reid that he wrote many of his most lasting and memorable compositions: from celebratory anthems like “Wear You to the Ball” and “The Tide Is High” to embittered love songs like “Only a Smile” and “Happy Go Lucky Girl.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

In the mid-‘60s, the frantic beats of ska started to give way to the languid tempos and soul-influenced vocal harmonies of rocksteady. Some listeners treat rocksteady as a transitional style, one that paved the way for the ultimate emergence of reggae at the close of the decade. But recordings by rocksteady outfits like The Techniques, The Paragons, and The Eternals are as remarkable as any of the finest music of the roots era that followed. The Paragons’ On the Beach—recorded for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle imprint in 1967—is arguably the definitive rocksteady LP. Not only does it boast remarkable singing and musicianship; it serves as a vehicle for the songwriting talent of group leader John Holt. He would record innumerable hits for producers like Bunny Lee, Phil Pratt, King Tubby, and Junjo Lawes in future decades, but it was for Duke Reid that he wrote many of his most lasting and memorable compositions: from celebratory anthems like “Wear You to the Ball” and “The Tide Is High” to embittered love songs like “Only a Smile” and “Happy Go Lucky Girl.”

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