This year is important for Jamaican music: it’s the 50th anniversary of the genre rock steady. Following ska, but a precursor to reggae, rock steady blended together elements of R&B, ska, jazz, and African and Latin American drumming. It has a slow tempo and a bass-heavy, stripped-down sound and even though it only lasted for a couple of years, it remains one of Jamaica’s most influential genres.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary, VP Records’ vintage imprint 17 North Parade released First Class Rock Steady. Available from September 30, the 12” double vinyl edition follows a 40 track CD and digital companion box set (released July 1) in addition to a 7” limited edition vinyl piece exclusive for this year’s Record Store Day.
This new, 24-track collection has been completely remastered on black vinyl, expands on the 7” RSD vinyl, and cherry-picks the CD and digital versions’ most important songs. Some artists include Lee “Scratch” Perry, The Techniques, Desmond Dekker and Johnny Nash.
The detailed cover reflects the era by reminding listeners of a time when snail mail was the only means of sharing these influential Jamaican exports with the rest of the world. Furthermore, the set includes extensive liner notes written by Harry Wise and filled with commentary from important players of the genre such as: living legend Bunny “Striker” Lee, Trinidad and Tobago’s late-great Lynn Taitt and the 2014 fallen icon, Hopeton Lewis.
You can purchase the two LP set here.
Here’s the full track listing:
1. Hold Them – Roy Shirley
2. I Am Lonely – The Heptones
3. Dance All Night – The Tartans
4. Rocky Steady – Alton Ellis
5. Ba Ba Boom – The Jamaicans
6. Pata Pata Rock Steady – Count Ossie Band
1. You Don’t Care – The Techniques
2. Little Boy Blue – Pat Kelly
3. I’m A Loving Pauper – Dobby Dobson
4. Return Home – Alva Lewis
5. Just Like A River – Stranger Cole & Gladdy
6. El Casino Royale – Lynn Taitt & The Jets
1. The Beatitude – The Uniques
2. Revelation – Alva Lewis
3. A Change Is Gonna Come – Ken Parker & The Carib Beats
4. The Big Takeover – The Overtakers
5. I Am The Upsetter – Lee Perry
6. Musically – Keith Blake
1. Lonely Heartaches – The Clarendonians
2. Napoleon Solo – Lynn Taitt & The Jets
3. Intensified – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
4. Hold Me – Johnny Nash
5. Seeing Is Knowing – Stranger Cole & Gladdy
6. Darling Jeboza Macoo – Stranger Cole