Tag Archives: Uniques

DanceCrasher’s 100 greatest rocksteady tunes

In 2007 the great reggae blog DanceCrasher embarked on a challenging journey – to count down the 100 greatest rocksteady tunes. Now – six years later – the list is finally finished and the songs selected are excellent in every single way.

Sure, it’s of course possible to debate – probably until infinity – if tune X should be there and why tune Y wasn’t included. People have different taste. And that’s a good thing.

My top 100 rocksteady list would probably have looked a bit different, partly due to musical preferences, partly due to the simple fact that some of the tunes on DanceCrasher’s list I hadn’t heard before.

I suggest you head over to DanceCrasher and browse through the list. Each song comes with a comment and a short history lesson.

If you’re curious on the sounds you can check this Spotify playlist I’ve made with a majority of the tracks. Far from every cut is available on Spotify, but classics such as The Paragons’ The Tide is High, The Uniques’ My Conversation and Val Bennett’s The Russians Are Coming (aka Take 5) are included along with lesser known gems, like Hemsley Morris’ Little Things (recently versioned by Alpheus) and The Tartans’ What Can I Say.

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Absolutely essential from The Uniques

The late and great Keith ”Slim” Smith is one of the many great voices in reggae music and his delicate falsetto was heavily inspired by early American soul and artists such as Curtis Mayfield. Slim Smith recorded several magic tunes up until his way too early death in 1973, only 25 years old.

Slim Smith was a key figure in vocal harmony groups The Techniques and later on in The Uniques, a group that’s been responsible for timeless classic such as My Conversation and People Rock Steady. A part from Slim Smith, the group consisted of Lloyd Charmers and Jimmy Riley, two singers that would later on find fame as solo vocalists and producers.

Several compilations have been dedicated to both Slim Smith himself and to The Uniques. And one would think that yet another would be a waste of both time and money. I beg to differ.

On October 17, Pressure Sounds drops Absolutely Rock Steady, a compilation dedicated to the works of The Uniques.

This is not the first compilation of material from The Uniques on Pressure Sounds. About ten years ago the label issued Watch This Sound.

You might think that many of the tunes appear on both albums, but Pete Holdsworth – project co-ordinator and founder of Pressure Sounds – has managed to find a new set of songs. The duplicates are set to a minimum.

Bunny Lee is the main producer on both albums and many of the tracks on Absolutely Rock Steady have been re-issued during the years, for example on two compilations from Trojan. But that doesn’t really matter.

These tunes have been chosen with great love and devotion. Included are both popular songs alongside some of their less well known ones. And there aren’t hardly any fillers, just great tunes, such as the beautiful Blinded By Love and the much versioned Let Me Go Girl. The compilation also include its answer tune, I’ll Let You Go (Let Me Go Boy) by Dawn Penn.

And – as usual with Pressure Sounds – the packaging is well above par with great sleeve notes and some nice footage.

If you already own several compilations with material from Slim Smith and The Uniques, then this compilation might be superfluous. But if you don’t, Absolutely Rock Steady is a great addition to the record collection. It’s timeless music for fans of soul, pop and reggae.

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