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» BREAKING NEWS, GUEST RUNDOWNS, NEW RELEASES » VP RECORDS CELEBRATES THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF ROCK STEADY WITH THE RELEASE OF “FIRST CLASS ROCK STEADY!”

VP RECORDS CELEBRATES THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF ROCK STEADY WITH THE RELEASE OF “FIRST CLASS ROCK STEADY!”

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL—-

 Desmond Dekker—-

ROCKSTEADY, the genre that produced countless hit songs in a two-year span, celebrates its 50th birthday this year. And VP Records is helping to celebrate its golden anniversary.

The Queens, New York company will release First Class Rock Steady on July 1 (celebrated as International Reggae Day) through its 17 North Parade subsidiary.

According to Chris O’Brien, manager at VP/Greensleeves Records in the United Kingdom, the double compact disc has 40 songs, strategically picked to attract hardcore rocksteady fans.

“For example, we wanted to represent various producers for variety, so there are songs by Coxson (Clement Dodd), Duke Reid, Bunny Lee and Leslie Kong. Then there are songs like Loving Pauper and Hold Me Tight…no rocksteady compilation would be complete without them,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

 FirstClassRockSteady

‘First Class’ also includes singer Hopeton Lewis’ Take It Easy, widely hailed as the first rocksteady song. It was recorded in late 1966 at Federal Records with Lynn Tait and The Jets.Other key songs making the cut are: Ba Ba Boom (The Jamaicans), Rocksteady (Alton Ellis and The Flames), Last Train to Expo 67 (The Melodians), You Don’t Care (The Techniques), Left With A Broken Heart (The Paragons), Intensified (Desmond Dekker and The Aces) and You’re Gonna Need Me by Errol Dunkley.

HopetonLewis1

On April 1, 17 North Parade released a limited edition vinyl box set of First Class Rock Steady in the UK. Containing 14 songs, O’Brien said that product sold quickly, resulting in his great expectations for the double CD.

“The vinyl set sold out twice on our Record Store Day. I believe the box set looks fantastic with great liner notes and there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” he said.

Arthur "Duke" Reid

Arthur “Duke” Reid

A number of producers and artists made their names in the rocksteady era including Dodd and arch-rival Reid. Dekker, Ellis, The Paragons (led by John Holt) and The Techniques are just some of its leading lights.

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