Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rock Steady - missing link between Reggae and Ska

We love Reggae, we love Ska (especially yours truly). Bau have you ever heard of Rock Steady?

Ska goes way back to the late 50's to mid 60's, and then enjoyed a super revival in the late 70's with UK acts like the Specials, Madness, and a host of others.

But it's generally accepted that Ska evolved into Reggae. The Maytals, the Wailers and others began as ska acts, along with Desmond Dekker, the Skatalites, gosh, the list could go on and on.

But did you know about Rock Steady? It was the bridge between Ska and Reggae. It would take a musicologist and/or a serious musician to go into the differneces. But basically Ska's quick tempo slowed down to the pace of what we hear in, say, a Bob Marley tune.

The missing link between Ska & Reggae was Rock Steady.

Rocksteady arose at a time when young people from the Jamaican countryside were flooding into the urban ghettos of Kingston — in neighborhoods such as Riverton City, Greenwich Town and Trenchtown. Though much of the country was optimistic in the immediate post-independence climate, these poverty-stricken youths did not share this sentiment. Many of them became delinquents who exuded a certain coolness and style. These unruly youths became known as rude boys.

As a musical style, rocksteady was shortlived, and existed only for about two years. For this reason original recordings in this genre are often harder to find than those from the ska and reggae era. In contrast to rocksteady, the Jamaican ska trend lasted several years, and classic reggae lasted for over a decade.

A better known Rock Steady song was Millie Small's 1964 hit "My Boy Lollipop":

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