Thursday, May 5, 2011


This was going to be a quick one song post, just because I found an mp3 of the Jamaicans' "Ba Ba Boom," a laid back rocksteady cut that's, to put if softly, remarkable in its unremarkableness. That's not to say that it isn't a great song, it's just so laid back that nothing really hits you in the face. It's been in periodic rotation on my turntable since I bought a bargain Duke Reid compilation many years ago. The artists weren't even mentioned on the cover, so it was a gamble. It turned out to be my introduction to rocksteady, the early form of Jamaican music (mid 60s) that was the link between ska and reggae. It was an important moment in Jamaican music, because it was when their music started moving away from the earlier R&B influenced blue beat and ska, and towards reggae, an uniquely Jamaican sound. The training wheels were coming off.

After traipsing around looking for other rocksteady cuts, I found a trailer for a rocksteady documentary that I didn't even know existed. "Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae" looks like a humdinger. It follows a reunion of sorts, of the legends of the genre. There's quite a few familiar names (U Roy!), and if you dig early reggae, you would do good to check it out.

To the untrained ear, the differences in the styles of Jamaican music are sometimes subtle, particularly in the music of the 60's. It can be tough to peg what exactly it is that you might be listening to. Making the distinction is humbling, but worry not. I ran into a video of Bob Marley (who, one would imagine, knows a thing or two about Jamaican music), describing the evolution of the sound, in an incredibly succinct manner. If you like Jamaican music, consider it mandatory.

Listen (inna haphazard chronological stylee):
The Duke Reid Group - The Rude Boy mp3 at Cubik Musik
Stranger Cole - Rough and Tough mp3 at Boogie Woogie Flu
The Paragons - The Tide Is High mp3 at Boogie Woogie Flu
The Jamaicans - Ba Ba Boom mp3 at Popop
Justin Hinds and the Dominoes - Carry Go Bring Home mp3 at Everybody Taste
Alton Ellis - Rock Steady mp3 at DJ No DJ
Phyllis Dillon - Remember That Sunday mp3 at Kiss Brooklyn
The Melodians - Sweet Sensation mp3 at Renan Maitre
Errol Dunkley - Black Cinderella mp3 at For the Sake of the Song
Cornell Campbell - Ten to One mp3 at Daniel Johnson Writes
John Holt - My Sweet Lord mp3 at Slang Editorial
The Difference Between Ska, Reggae and Rock Steady -As told by Bob Marley This is as concise as they come. Recommended.
Further digressions:
Earlier reggae related posts here


Anonymous said...

It's my fave form of music.
From Terry Marine

bemyfriend8182 said...

Rocksteady is my fave form of music!

Anonymous said...

Tommy McCook and the Supersonics backing The Jamaicans on dis one. To me, this IS bluebeat. Alotta songs entitled, "Rocksteady" (in one form or another) are bluebeat to me. In my lexicon, bluebeat is the slow rolling riddim, while rocksteady is the faster cha-cha tango wind-and-grind. Thanks, Tom, for writing this. From Terry Marine