“Featuring”, as the label blurb has it, “the original 1981 Island album, plus the previously unissued accompanying Dub set…” That accurate description sums up this new release from the Paragons, the vocal reggae outfit that gave us the late John Holt and Bob Andy. The year of issue means that these are re-recordings of some of the Paragons’ best known songs, featuring the trio of John Holt, Garth ‘Tyrone’ Evans and Howard Barrett. This collection includes ‘The Tide is High’ (after the versions by U Roy and by Gregory Isaacs, and after Blondie had already fashioned it into a pop/rock hit single), ‘Man Next Door’, ‘Riding on a High and Windy Day’ and (the much-dubbed) ‘Wear You to the Ball’. Engineered by Errol Brown, and recorded at Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, Jamaica, it’s not surprising that the production sound is clear and uncluttered in comparison to the Paragons’ early versions of these songs for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle records in the 60s. The musicians involved here include Mikey Chung, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, all adding up to an excellent tour of the Paragons’ best tracks, with the vocals mixed up front. As if that were not enough this release also features a dub set of the entire album and that is really where the sound takes off. Sequenced differently from the vocal tracks, the dub set kicks off with ‘Riding in Rhythm’ (an excellent dub take on the vocal track) and then essentially goes from strength to strength, featuring ‘The Version is High’, ‘Wear Out the Dub’ and a dub entitled ‘My Best Rhythm’ (a perfect dub of ‘My Best Girl’). It’s old-time reggae and still sounds great.
The Paragons/The Paragons Dubwise, CD, released by Caroline Records, May 2015.