July 19, 2017 7:56 PM   Subscribe

In 1966, on the island of Jamaica, it was time to slow down. But who figured it out first? There are four generally recognized candidates: Roy Shirley (previously) with Hold Them, Alton Ellis with Girl I've Got A Date, Hopeton Lewis with Take It Easy, and Derrick Morgan with Tougher Than Tough. On three of those four songs, the groove was set by keyboardist Gladstone Anderson. For the next two years - maybe three - before it was swept away by the political and social drive of Rastafari and reggae, the laid-back love songs of rocksteady dominated the Jamaican music scene.
posted by clawsoon (8 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
It's time to Rocksteady.

Mainly because it too hot.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:02 PM on July 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

No problem, just turn down the lighting. You'll feel better when the lights are low.

I've always been unclear on how to sort some of the edge cases from the transition period where ska, rocksteady, and early reggae overlap but while I might not know how to classify any given track there's just an astonishing wealth of material that was produced during those years. Tracking it down can be a bit of a challenge but oh, the treasures you'll find!
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:21 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love Rocksteady, and I recommend Desmond Dekker and Toots & the Maytals from this period as well. Ba Ba Boom!
posted by bwvol at 7:23 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

An additional nugget - this was the original Skinhead music, before they were hijacked by the racists and neo-Nazis.
posted by bwvol at 7:26 AM on July 20, 2017

Carrying the torch, let's not forget to recognize Hepcat from southern California.
posted by mgriffioen at 8:52 AM on July 20, 2017

There was a post about the rise of reggae in Jamaica on MeFi a few years back that I'd recommend... I'd posted in that thread about the article on called "That Chop on the Upbeat" about Junior Braithwaite and Jamaican ska and reggae artists. There's also a very comprehensive 355 page book by Beth Lesser called "Rub-a-Dub Style - The Roots of Modern Dancehall" which covers modern reggae and dub and traces the roots of the Jamaican sound systems back to ska and rocksteady. It's a free download, and she's got other articles on her site.

Dave's Jukebox has a lot of the original 45s from the early ska/reggae era of Jamaica, and there are quite a few MP3 links to the scratchy recordings he's made. Rare stuff, and he seems to have most of it up for sale too.

Possibly the best intro to ska, reggae, dancehall, dub, and most everything else are the Box Sets that are put out by the British record label Trojan Records. The albums are pretty easy to find on Youtube... here's the "trojan box set" search results.
If you're all like 'aaagh what where do i start', put this on in the background.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

Probably my all-time favorite music genre. The Rough Guide to Reggae does a great job of tracing the evolution of mid-century Jamaican music from mento > ska > rocksteady > reggae (and the differences between the genres).

The Studio One Story is also a great primer on the evolution of popular Jamaican music.

Ernest Ranglin is said to have invented the vibrating guitar line that is a trademark to these styles.

Here's Sister Nancy doing a rocksteady-inspired dance hall song that I love.

Another few more favorites:

Ba Ba Boom
Johnny Too Bad
posted by Brittanie at 2:31 PM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Good timing. I've been listening to This is Trojan all week.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:23 PM on July 20, 2017

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