The Bunny Lee Rock Steady Years
Moll Selekta
April 21, 2005

Track list
  1. The Sensations - Lonely Lover
  2. The Uniques - My Conversation
  3. Glen Adams - Hey There Lonely Girl
  4. Owen Gray - Take Me Back
  5. Dawn Penn - Long Day Short Night
  6. Ken Parker - How Could I
  7. Slim Smith - Let Me Go Girl
  8. Winston Samuels - Don't Believe Him
  9. Errol Dunkley - King And Queen
  10. Pat Kelly - The Dark End Of The Street
  11. Alton Ellis - Loving Mood
  12. The Sensations - Right On Time
  13. Glen Adams - I Can't Help It
  14. Alva Lewis - In The Park
  15. The Sensations - Long Time Me No See You Girl
  16. Cynthia Richards - Forever
  17. Ken Parker - Somebody To Love
  18. Dawn Penn - To Sir With Love
  19. Errol Dunkley - I'm Going Home
  20. Slim Smith - Build My World Around You
  21. Glen Adams - Hold Down Miss Winey
  22. Owen Gray - Come Back To Me
  23. The Sensations - Born To Love You
  24. Webber Sisters - What I'm Gonna Do
  25. Lester Sterling with King Cannon - Man At Work
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
"Rock Steady was more like a melodic rhythm. The bass would be playing a steady sort of a melody in the background. We tried to make it rock steady with a real catchy beat and steady for dancing. Rock Steady was when we realised how important a steady catchy bass line was - just as important as the vocals". (Clement "Coxsone" Dodd)

"All our songs were slow songs. We helped to change the whole thing from Ska to Rock Steady. Rock Steady means move steady when you dance." (Leroy Sibbles, The Heptones)

This is a good month for rocksteady followers : Pressure Sounds has the obscure Phil Pratt/Caltone selection coming soon, and Moll Selekta has this excellent Bunny Lee selection on the shelves of your local roots and revives emporium.

The Sensations "Lonely Lover" has a mournful drum and bass and a doo wop vocal, early Neville Brothers style -- the mastering is excellent, as it is throughout this fine album -- with a crystal clear sound, booming bass vibrations and zinc metal hi hat hiss.

The Uniques "My Conversation" has an aggressive depth charge b line and a timbale tuned hollow snare sound -- pure sound system dynamics with a catchy piano hook that stays in the consciousness long after the tracks fades. Along with "The Beatitudes" this is one of Slim Smith's finest vocal performances, albeit with a very different motivation and vibe.

Also on this album is the powerful Otis Redding style "How Could I" by the intense Ken Parker. Glen Adams' "Hey There Lonely Girl" has a saccharine lovers vocal belied by a beligerent bass and Link Wray raw guitar scything.

Owen Gray puts in a moving Pat Kelly style emotional delivery on "Take Me Back" -- If you love "Then You can Tell Me Goodbye" this will appeal.

A high point of the album is the existential loneliness, darkness and pessimism of Pat Kelly's beautiful "Dark End Of The Street" -- It's a tale of apparent self loathing and powerlesness, addressing a sense of isolation. Such is the human condition in Pat Kelly's bleak narrative. "At the dark end of the street that's where we always meet, hiding in shadows where we don't belong, living in darkness where we hide alone." Astonishing music, beautifully expressed by this deeply under rated artist.

"I Can't Help It" by Glen Adams is another track of lonely beauty and dark frustration, the lyrics' sentiment echoed in their fullness by agressive rim shots and a rolling bass boom.

The album closes with the huge bass waves of "Man At Work", an early Studio One style jazz edged instrumental.

"The guys who were in control robbed the older musicians, and they get frustrated and stop playing. So the musicians changed from the older musicians to the younger, hungrier ones who was coming up underneath them. People like I, we love James Brown and we dip into the American bag. We don't want to stand around playing and singing that ska beat anymore. The young musicians, dem have a different beat. It was Rock Steady now, eager to go." -- Bob Marley in an interview with Stephen Davis.