Numbers 50-41

You Don’t Care – The Techniques (Duke Reid Production)

It’s been a hard choice when putting this top 100 together to chose between the more obscure tunes and the huge hits of the genre. I’ve avoided some of the anthems, not because they’re not great records but because it’s hard to get excited about a tune you’ve heard hundreds of times and that have appeared on literally dozens of compilations. There have to be exceptions though and this is definitely one of them.

The tune that launched a thousand versions…a timeless classic. It’s available on dozens of Heartbeat and Trojan compilations. What more needs to be said?

Watch This Sound – The Uniques (Winston Lowe Production)

The Uniques take For What It’s Worth by Buffallo Springfield and make it their own. Once again the talents of Slim Smith shine through.

This was produced (or at least funded by) Winston Lowe and released on his Tramp label in Jamaica, it was picked up by Trojan in the UK. Lowe was a friend of Bunny Lee from Greenwich Town in Kingston.

Watch This Sound is available on the Pressure Sounds CD; The Uniques – Watch This Sound (PSCD 21).

Memories By The Score – The Paragons (Paragons Production)

Whilst their classics for Treasure Isle are the best remembered Paragons rocksteady sides they still found time to go it alone with a small number of releases on their own Supertone label.

Memories By The Score may not have the status of the huge hits such as On The Beach or The Tide Is High but its every bit as good.

Memories… is available on the Trojan compilation Let’s Do Rocksteady: The Story of Rocksteady 1966-68.

Cry Tough – Alton Ellis (Duke Reid Production)

Though the likes of Slim Smth, Ken Boothe and Derrick Harriot were all undisputed top rank singers in the rocksteady era, the man who dominated the genre so much that his name pretty much sums up the music was the mighty Alton Ellis, his body of work at Treasure Isle is peerless.

Cry Tough is another of those Rocksteady anthems that you’ll hear quite a lot. Fortunately when it’s as good as this the experience is always a pleasure. It’s currently available on the Heartbeat CD; Alton Ellis – Cry Tough (CDHB 106).

I’m So Proud – Joe White (Charles Ross Production)

What would rocksteady have been like without the monumental influence of the Impressions and specifically the mighty Curtis Mayfield? Though the influence of Curtis went far beyond cover versions of his songs, a Jamaican interpretation of one is always worth checking out, at the very best they took something that was already great and made it truly sublime.

One such example would be I’m So Proud by Joe White for producer Charles Ross. Joe White is perhaps best known for his melodica sides in the 70’s but his vocal sides both as member of the Leaders and as a solo artist seldom disappoint.

I’m So Proud is available on the Various Artists compilation; I’m So Proud: A Jamaican Tribute To Curtis Mayfield on Trojan (CDTRL 376), it was also reissued on a limited edition vinyl 7″ by Rock A Shacka in 2009.

People Get Ready – The Minstrels (Coxsone Dodd Production)

On the subject of the Impressions trust Studio One to push the boundaries just that bit further still and give us something that is truly a masterpiece. It says a lot about the set up that Coxsone Dodd created at Brentford Road that a group of unknowns such as the Minstrels could come in and create vocals like this, you can’t help thinking that even Curtis would have been impressed.

People Get Ready is on the Heartbeat compilation Mojo Rocksteady (CDHB 134).

Coming On The Scene – Johnny And the Attractions (Sonia Pottinger Production)

This wasn’t Johnny Osbourne and the usual suspects as is sometimes supposed but a group of unknowns who visited the studio’s of Kingston just a handful of times but still managed to create some of the greatest and most haunting rocksteady harmonies.

Coming On The Scene is a monster tune of almost mythical status, anything by Johnny And The Attractions is a guaranteed scorcher but this is their finest moment.

Originally issued on a Gayfeet 7″ in Jamaica and on Doctor Bird in the UK. This was re-issued by Trojan on a 10″ with three other essential Johnny And The Attractions tunes in 2004.

Can’t You See – Ken Boothe (Links Production)

Links records was a label set up by a collection of artists who apparently wanted to take greater control of their own destiny outside of the constraints of the big producers. Given that the main players were the likes of the Gaylads alongside Ken Boothe you have to assume that the big producer in question was Coxsone Dodd. Sadly though there were some wonderful tunes released on Links the label was short lived. Meanwhile both Boothe and the Gaylads continued to have many hits though less with Studio One than before…

Boothe was another of the top rank of singers in the Rocksteady era, Can’t You See won’t compete in the popularity stakes with some of his Brentford Road smashes but for heartfelt raw emotion it’s up there with the best of them.

Can’t You See is available on the Trojan CD Rebel Music Volume 2 (TJCCD346)

Solomon – Derrick Harriot (Derrick Harriot Production)

With an infectious bassline that made this one of reggae’s greatest ever rhythms, Solomon is as much about the rhythm as it is about the superb voice of Derrick Harriott. The song takes as it’s theme the biblical character King Solomon of Israel who was, as the song tells us, “the Wisest Man”. Harriott comes across like is a story teller in this tune which is all the more remarkable when you consider there is only really one verse that is repeated three times. Great stuff!

Solomon was issued on the Crystal label in Jamaica and on Island in the UK. It is currently available on the Trojan CD; Derrick Harriott’s Rocksteady Party (TJDCD 310).

Lonely Heartaches – Clarendonians (Caltone production)

Continuing the rocksteady preoccupation with heartbreak Lonely Heartaches finds Peter Austin and Ernest Wilson, collectively known as the Clarendonians, at their very best. The Clarendonians were hugely successful in the rocksteady period and before. Their releases for Caltone whilst not their biggest hits are easily some of their best tunes (see also No 100).

The UK release of Lonely Heartaches was on Crab (where it was miscredited to the Tartans) and came out in 1969, a year or two after the tune was recorded. It is currently available on the Rocksteady Rarities Boxset on Trojan (TJETD299).

13 comments to Numbers 50-41

  • Prince Horror

    Lonely Heartaches are on of my top top fabs of all time. One of the first 7inches I bought. Great stuff.

  • Adam P

    Watch This Sound is a total Killer

  • Glad you got round to another 10 great rocksteady tunes. Looking forward to the rest. Would have put “Can’t you see” by Ken Boothe much higher though but it’s all a matter of opinion. At which place will you put “Venus” by Winston Francis? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Dave Home

    I really like ‘Loney Heartaches’, that was a new one to me. Just ordered the ‘Rocksteady Rarities’ so promoting the music like this is defintely working!

  • AnorakTrev

    Hip Hooray , Tim ! At long last . Keep up the good work for us mere mortals . Thanks .

  • AnorakTrev

    Joe White`s ! I`m So Proud ” and its instrumental version by Karl Bryan & Lyn Taitt & The Jets is also avaliable on the ” Jamaican Memories ” CD on Trojan TJACD 014 , which btw is a storming collection of the original LP plus 16 bonus tracks !

  • Soulbro

    Can it be better than this! I longing for the next ten to come…

  • andy hynd

    i’ve been following this section religiously since conception,the tunes keep getting better& better,and is a constant source of inspiration,how about Earnest & freddie-‘deep down in my heart,got this on a blank Flames(anyone ever seen a labeled copy?)i hope this gets an inclusion,it deserves one!
    keep up the great work

  • wiz247

    Memories By The Score รขโ‚ฌโ€œ The Paragons. I copped this from my parents collection way back when on a blank and had no idea who it was or the story behind it. Not dug it out for a while, but it’s double AA sider and a nice tune. Good work.

  • My favorite all tho not listed is Slim Smith (out of love)
    you cant beat the smooth harmony in that song. It sounds like the man
    really crying. I just love this song to death as if it just came out.

  • Mark H

    There’s also a false start version of ‘Can’t you see’ in a very similar vein to “royal cord” (FND 8003A). Starting “if you want to know about version you’ve got to stop at this station, right about now I give to you man called Ken boothe…..dig it”, the song runs for a minute and then pauses “don’t get me wrong, i only stopped the song to tell you this….it’s a hit, just can’t miss” then restarts.
    Almost certainly done at the same time as Royal Cord and a very cheap way to re-use the Links material i suppose. I’d rather have the unadulterated version…..

  • Al

    Re the Paragons tune and label… Supertone was a very large sound out of May Pen, Clarendon. I wonder if there was any affiliation with these Paragons releases? Perhaps he helped finance the recordings, etc.

  • Johan Lindgren

    Johnny & The Attractions is on Trojan Rock Steady Rarities Box Set (2005).

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