Rock Steady

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Rock Steady

Rock Steady

Rocksteady is the name given to an era in the development of the music of Jamaica between 1966 and 1968 , and to the style of music which prevailed in that era.

A result of the slowing of the ska tempo, and a precursor to reggae, rocksteady saw the formation of many of Jamaica's vocal harmony groups such as The Gaylads, Toots & the Maytals and The Paragons. The musical style developed into Reggae as bass patterns became more complex, percussion more prominent, and brass sections were replaced the by rhythm guitar.

The term comes from the Alton Ellis recording of the same name. --


10. 'Rock Steady' is a slow groove based music that gives the vocalist room to 'stamp his personality on a song,' a Jamaican version of the American soul music of the mid to late sixities. The bass lines have distinct breaks in their rhythm, (something that has become characterized in Jamaican music from this point hence) coming in shorter patterns of notes. The after beat or up beat being emphasized by the guitar and drums.(Larkin 1995, p3538)


  1. Funky Kingston (1973 - Toots & The Maytals [1 CD, Amazon US]
    By 1975, rock audiences were finally getting heavily into reggae, thanks to the success of Bob Marley's first two albums and Jimmy Cliff's soundtrack for The Harder They Come. Funky Kingston, a collection of early '70s Maytals singles, was released to capitalize on the newfound demand for Jamaican sounds, and it did not disappoint--nor will it disappoint anyone who comes across it today. With Toots Hibbert's gritty vocals at the fore, this is the closest reggae ever got to American soul music. If sublimely funky tracks such as "Time Tough," "Got to Be There," and "Pressure Drop" don't make you smile, then their ganja-laced cover of John Denver's "Country Roads" (complete with a shout-out to "West Jamaica") should definitely do the trick. --Dan Epstein for

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