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Published: 2005/11/13
by Michael Slaboch

Hold Me Tight: Anthology ’65-‘73 – Lyn Taitt and the Jets

Trojan Records US 80543

1965 was a major turning point in the history of music for the island of Jamaica. The popular music of the day shifted drastically from upbeat ska tunes to the downtempo grooves that quickly garnered the musical label rocksteady. The FM radio stations from Miami traveled South through the ether to Montego Bay and Kingston bringing the top R&B hits from America to this little island, filled with a myriad of creative musicians looking for something new to vamp on in the studios.

While Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson were gaining international prominence out of Detroit, Jamaicans like Hopetown Lewis and Johnny Nash would soon be sharing their rocksteady grooves with the rest of the world. The first disc of this phenomenal anthology is made up of 27 sublime instrumentals written mostly by legendary Trinidadian guitarist Lyn Taitt, who — like his Jamaican contemporary Ernest Ranglin — had a tremendous ear for making great use of space for each member of his quartet, The Jets.

The second disc focuses on them backing up the new rocksteady singers of the day. One of the outstanding tracks of this set is the rare single, “Joy In Morning” from The Gaylads whose background vocals pay blatant homage to the song “Groovin’” by The Young Rascals, which was a huge hit in the States at the time. Lloyd and the Groovers bring us to the island through their sweet horn driven tune, “Listen to the Music” and the Gaylets “I Like Your World” gives us a glimpse of the massive influence The Supremes had on the rocksteady women of Jamaica.

Just as the Funk Brothers were the unsung heroes of Hitsville U.S.A., bands like Lyn Taitt and The Jets were the backbone to these new soulful singers invading every studio across Jamaica. Rocksteady would give way to the thick dub grooves of Lee “Scratch” Perry and the politically rich reggae of Bob Marley and the Wailers in the mid 70’s, but for almost a decade these sweet songs blanketed the airwaves of Jamaica lifting people’s hearts and minds with the soulful rocksteady grooves.

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