Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

First Class Rock Steady
Various
17 North Parade
2 CD
August 28, 2016

Track list
Disc 1
  1. Hopeton Lewis - Take It Easy
  2. Roy Shirley w/ Lynn Tait & His Band - Hold Them
  3. The Heptones w/ The Supersonics - I Am Lonely
  4. The Tartans - Dance All Night
  5. Alton Ellis & The Flames - Rock Steady
  6. The Jamaicans w/ Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - Ba Ba Boom
  7. Patsy & The Count Ossie Band - Pata Pata Rock Steady
  8. The Melodians w/ Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - Last Train To Expo 67
  9. Dobby Dobson w/ Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - I'm A Loving Pauper
  10. Errol Dunkley w/ Lynn Taitt Band - Please Stop Your Lying
  11. Alva Lewis w/ Lynn Tait & His Band - Return Home
  12. Stranger Cole & Gladdy - Just Like A River
  13. Lynn Taitt & The Jets feat. Cool Sticky - El Casino Royale
  14. Honey Boy Martin & The Voices w/ Tommy McCook - Dreader Than Dread
  15. The Jupiters - The Return Of Ezekial
  16. Carlton Manning - Live And Love
  17. The Melodians w/ Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - Last Train To Ecstasy
  18. Errol Dunkley w/ Lynn Taitt Band - You're Gonna Need Me
  19. The Sensations - Born To Love You
  20. Hopeton Lewis - Sounds And Pressure
Disc 2
  1. The Techniques w/ Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - You Don't Care
  2. Pat Kelly & The Uniques w/ Bobby Aitken & The Carib Beats - Little Boy Blue
  3. The Paragons - Left With A Broken Heart
  4. The Gaylads w/ Lynn Taitt & The Jets - ABC Rock Steady
  5. The Uniques - The Beatitude
  6. Alva Lewis - Revelation
  7. Ken Parker w/ Bobby Aitken & The Carib Beats - A Change Is Gonna Come
  8. Val Bennett - The Russians Are Coming
  9. Derrick Morgan - The Great Musical Battle
  10. The Overtakers - The Big Takeover
  11. Lee Perry - I Am The Upsetter
  12. Keith Blake w/ Lynn Taitt Band - Musically
  13. The Clarendonians w/ The Aubrey Adams All Stars - Lonely Heartaches
  14. Lynn Taitt & The Jets - Napoleon Solo
  15. Desmond Dekker & The Aces - Intensified
  16. The Paragons - Got To Get Away
  17. Johnny Nash - Hold Me Tight
  18. The Sensations - Long Time Me No See You
  19. Stranger Cole & Gladdy w/ Lynn Taitt & The Jets - Seeing Is Knowing
  20. Stranger Cole - Darling Jeboza Macoo
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Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5
When VP Records released their unique "First Class Rock Steady" 7inch Vinyl Box Set, a one-off pressing especially for Record Store Day 2016 as well as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of Rocksteady, they also reassured the avid Rocksteady fan who got rid of his turntable awhile back, that very soon they were also going to put out a comprehensive 40-track collection from that genre on dbl cd. It would include the fourteen tunes from the Box Set's seven double A-sided singles with the addition of another twenty-six selected tunes. And here it is!

Renowned discographer Roger Dalke came up with the following Rocksteady fact (featured on the jacket of Chuck Foster's book "The Small Axe Guide To Rock Steady"): "After some calculation in the amounts of 7inch singles pressed at WIRL & Federal during the Rocksteady time of 1966-68 (i.e. 1st January 1966 - 1st March 1968), the total output is in excess of 5500 singles! This of course doesn't include the UK's output that wasn't pressed in Jamaica, which was a couple of hundred. This would make approx. 5700 altogether... an output of 6.5 records a day." That's a staggering amount of Rocksteady tunes recorded and released within 14 months! So it's obvious that having gathered 40 songs on this dbl cd, which combines tracks produced by Duke Reid, Bunny Lee, Joe Gibbs, Sonia Pottinger, Ken Lack and others, is only the tip of the iceberg.

In the past 25 years or so quite a lot of Rocksteady compilation sets have been put out by record labels like Heartbeat, Trojan Records, Jamaican Gold, Dub Store Records, Soul Jazz, Attack, Kingston Sounds and Pressure Sounds, which implies that those who have collected previously released Rocksteady compilation cd's most likely won't come across many rare tunes on this "First Class Rock Steady" collection. Tunes such as Alton Ellis & The Flames' "Rock Steady", The Jamaicans' "Ba Ba Boom", The Melodians' "Last Train To Expo 67", Errol Dunkley's "You're Gonna Need Me", The Sensations' "Born To Love You", The Techniques' "You Don't Care", The Gaylads' "ABC Rocksteady", and The Uniques' "Beautitude", have been part of popular and widely available compilation cd's. Great tunes fi sure, but not the ones that Rocksteady aficionados are waiting for. From their perspective the ones of real interest here are delightful obscurities such as The Jupiters' ultra rare "The Return Of Ezekial", Carlton Manning's equally hard-to-get "Live And Love" and Keith Blake's "Musically". Besides the inclusion of tunes from tried and trusted hitmakers from that era, it's good to have songs from artists like Alva Lewis (guitarist of the influential Hippy Boys band, as well as a singer-songwriter in his own right), Honey Boy Martin & The Voices, The Overtakers and the legendary Rocksteady group The Tartans (consisting of Prince Lincoln, Cedric Myton, Devon Russell and Lindberg Lewis) included here as well.

In addition, there's a real nice booklet which includes extensive liner notes written by Harry Wise and filled with quotes from genre's key players like producer Bunny "Striker" Lee, singers Hopeton Lewis and Roy Shirley, and Trinidadian virtuoso guitarist Lynn Taitt. Issued on 17 North Parade, the vintage imprint of VP Records, this is a splendid collection of Jamaica's most celebrated music genre for newbies and for all experienced heads as well.

(Note: check the detailed review of the 7inch Vinyl Box Set here).