Dick’s Picks: This week Dick has put on his dancing shoes with this stone-cold-killer selection of vintage Jamaican reggae business…
GLADSTONE ANDERSON with LYN TAITT & THE JETS ‘Jamaica’s Glad Sounds – Let’s Go Native With Reggae Reggae’
Gladstone Anderson and Lynn Tait – who, what, why?
The coming together of Gladstone ‘Gladdy’ Anderson and Lynn Tait as ‘Jamaica’s Glad Sounds’ helped usher in a new era in Jamaican music, up until this point Anderson was most widely known as the pianist in top Ska instrumental act ‘The Skatalites’ whilst Lynn Tait (not female btw) was a Trinidadian guitarist who is now viewed as a key figure in the birth of the ‘Rocksteady’ sound.
Mommy, what’s a ‘Rocksteady’?
A little detail here; the uptempo ska rhythm which had dominated Jamaica since the dawn of the ‘60s by 1968 (when this album was released) was on the wane and a new sound was emerging, namely ‘Rocksteady’. In essence this new musical variant retained the offbeat rhythm central to Ska’s infectious groove but crucially slowed it down, by 1970/1971 this groove had slowed even further to create what we now know as ‘Reggae’. Many see 1968 as a pivotal year for Jamaican music, reggae historians take note, although the ‘Let’s Go Native’ albums lingua franca is rock solid Rocksteady, even at this early stage the phrase ‘Reggae’ was in use.
What’s it like?
It’s ten tracks of absolute killer organ led instrumentals that’s what! Opener ‘Intensified ’68’ sets the scene, with that slowed down ‘Rocksteady’ groove to the fore. Anderson opens proceedings with a few delicate organ trills before the ever-so-slightly wonky piano emerges, the Latin-esque horns throughout are a neat touch too…..
….for a crash course in what Rocksteady was/is you could do worse than listen to the album’s third track, ‘ABC Rocksteady’, a super slowed down groove if compared with Ska but still retaining a prominent horn section, something that was often lost or pushed to the margins as reggae and dub took over….
We can’t let this one go without a little mention of the label ‘Merritone’. Launched in 1966 as an offshoot of ska imprint ‘Federal’, the label was named after Winston Blake’s Sound System of the same name. It’s said that the parent company Federal was hip enough to realise that younger generations would always be looking for something different to the previous generation – enter Blake, and his considerable clout as record company man and sound system owner, in short he was a tastemaker and knew which way the (reggae) wind was blowing resulting in Merritone becoming synonymous with the new Rocksteady sound. Many releases on the label never made it out of Jamaica with only a small percentage of releases being licensed by Island Records in the UK – resulting in some seriously rare records in the catalogue – one last detail, the label was located at the home of parent company ‘Federal’ – 220 Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, Jamaica’ surely the coolest record company address known to man!