VP Records celebrate Rocksteady’s 50th Birthday

VP Records celebrate Rocksteady's 50th Birthday
Rocksteady pioneer Alton Ellis

VP Records celebrate Rocksteady’s 50th Birthday

2016 marks the 50th anniversary for Jamaica’s celebrated musical genre rock steady. VP and 17 North Parade, in association with International Reggae Day commemorate the genre on Fri. July 1st with the comprehensive 40-track collection “First Class Rock Steady.”

Although the genre lasted only a couple of years, from 1966 to 1968, rock steady is one of Jamaican music’s most influential music forms, producing rhythms that are still sampled and used today.

“The brief but brilliant period produced some of Jamaica’s most internationally respected and beloved masterpiece recordings, paving the way for the evolution of reggae music,” says International Reggae Day Founder, Andrea Davis.

Iconic tracks include the first ever rock steady track “Take It Easy,” by Hopeton Lewis. The song, which is the album’s opening track, recently scored a TV ad for Corona, becoming relevant to a new generation of music lovers 50 years later.

Lynn Taitt, who played bass on “Take It Easy,” said “that was the first slow song….nothing else was slow at the time. Everything had been ska. I find the ska was too fast. Very, very fast. So I told him [Hopeton Lewis] let’s do this one slow. Very slow. The slower the music it have more spaces to do something with, so I put a bass line. I play in unison with the bass and i get a bass line…”

Rock Steady was also popularized by the likes of Alton Ellis, Desmond Dekker, Johnny Nash, Errol Dunkley and vocal harmony bands like The Gaylads, The Heptones, The Paragons, The Sensations and The Melodians, all featured on this extraordinary historical set.

The remastered collection’s packaging includes extensive liner notes written by Harry Wise and filled with quotes from the genre’s key players like living legend Bunny “Striker” Lee and more. The LP’s detailed cover and CD sleeve reflects the excitement of the era when postal mail was the only mode for sharing this burgeoning Jamaican export for worldwide consumption. Playing off of Jamaica’s long history of tourism, the album’s packaging also features images of picturesque postcards and stamps of Cricket (a Jamaican pastime), the Doctor Bird (national symbol) and Montreal’s Expo ’67 (World’s Fair).

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