I wanna back to the islands
Where the shrimp boats tie up to the pilin'
Gimme oysters and beer For dinner every day of the year
and I'll feel fine I'll feel fine
Rocksteady is officially Monty Alexander's recording. His deal with Telarc, now being realized, was that he record a straight jazz recording and then one of his own choosing. This is the latter. Mr. Alexander, along with his Jamaican brother Ernest Ranglin, turns his attention to the ska music of their young adulthood. And this music absolutely smacks of the islands. Few musical styles can conjure temporal images the way ska and reggae do for salty sea air, rum, and smoke. Honored here is the ska heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the music of Toots and the Maytals, The Blues Blasters, Theophilous Beckford, and Derrick Harriott.
For those listeners expecting reggae, modify your expectations. This music is a humid mixture of island music, American R&B and Soul, and Afro-Cuban jazz, and pop shined through the distinctly Jamaican cultural prism, producing this rich, sexual music. Little of Monty Alexander?s jazz chops are present, as I am sure was his design. Instead the pianist becomes a groove merchant establishing commerce with his partner in crime, guitarist Ernest Ranglin, whose role is to play funk master to Alexander?s relentless groove.
The disc was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, providing this music with the necessary “live” feel. This is serious music that will make one smile and hope that Mr. Alexander provides us more.