Island Records did something strange last year. They reissued the album Sly & Robbie Meet The Paragons adding another ten tracks, of which nine are previously unreleased dub versions. But on the album sleeve they don’t mention anything about these added tracks. It looks like the original set from 1981.
They should of course have marketed this treasure chest much harder. I mean unreleased dub mixes of Sly & Robbie rhythms mixed by Steven Stanley in the early 80s. That’s pure dynamite. The dub album could easily have been a single album. Or better – a double vinyl album with one vocal set and one dub counterpart. Unfortunately Island didn’t do it that way. They released a CD and digital version with the added tracks while the vinyl only comes with the ten original cuts.
Flaws aside, this is a superb album remastered to perfection. When it was originally released in 1981 it marked the reunion of one of Jamaica’s premier vocal groups and harmony trios. They were led by the late John Holt, who is the essence of smoothness, and on this set they teamed up with Sly & Robbie to re-record some of their greatest tracks in an early dancehall fashion. Included are melancholic and uplifting masterpieces like On the Beach, My Best Girl, Riding On a High and Windy Day, Man Next Door and The Tide is High, which was successfully covered by both Blondie and Atomic Kitten.
Every track on this set is excellent and same goes for the dub versions, which showcases both Steven Stanley’s mixing skills and the strength of Sly & Robbie’s rhythms. Cuts like Riding the Rhythm, with its haunting bass line, Wear Out the Dub, with its picking guitar and hint of vocals, and Indiana James, with its eerie synths, are pure genius. Indiana James is actually the only dub version that has been previously available. It was featured on Sly & Robbie’s Raiders of the Lost Dub released in the early 80s.