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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

PARAGONS

By Tom Pryor
Published September 8, 2005

On The Beach
Jet Set

1967’s On The Beach is one of the seminal albums in the rocksteady pantheon, precisely because it is a full-length album, and therefore something of a rarity in that singles-dominated era. But the recording isn’t just a novelty either; it represents a pinnacle for one of the great vocal trios of the 1960s. Led by the great John Holt, the Paragons also included Howard Barrett and Tyrone Evans when they recorded this classic for the Treasure Isle label (another great singer, Bob Andy, had also been a member, but left the fold by the recording of On The Beach). Backed by ex-Skatalite Tommy McCook’s crack Supersonics band (the house band at Reid’s Bond Street studio), the Paragons harmonize through a sweetly swinging party set here, including the original version of the ’80s Blondie hit “The Tide Is High,” conjuring up sun, sand and lots of ’60s optimism. Interestingly, the album would also play a crucial role in the emergence of both dub and DJ styles, when U-Roy voiced his classic “Wear You To The Ball” over an instrumental version of the Paragons’ original record.