Steady Rocking

When ska began its change into the more sophisticated-sounding Rock Steady during the mid-1960s singers came into their own. While the tempo remained about the same Rock Steady carried a relaxed rhythmic density.

In Rock Steady the guitar only strums on beats 2 & 4, and the bass guitar emphasizes beats 1 & 3.
Drums are less prominent in Rock Steady as their rhythmic role was being taken over by the bass guitar. Drums provided accents, or were inaudible. Less predominant horns and less-rigid beat offered more vocal possibilities. Rock Steady was perfect for romantic group vocals.

The best examples of Rock Steady were recorded for producer Duke Reid. The studio band at Reid’s Bond Street studio, the famed Treasure Isle Studio, was made up of the best of the best. Led by Tommy McCook, The Supersonics featured drummers Arkland “Drumbago” Parks and Hugh Malcolm, and guitarists Ernest Ranglin and Lynn Taitt.

Rock Steady lived a far longer life than the three years usually attributed to it (1966-1968), and it still forms the foundation of new riddims.

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