The history of Jamaica has always reflected in its maxim 'Out Of Many One People' and the same is also true of the island's rich musical history. Many, whose origins lay outside of Jamaica, have made a lasting impact on a music where countless cultures and races have combined to make a unified whole. One of the most significant is Trinidadian Lyn Taitt. one could never state categorically that one individual could stand out from the many who have contributed over the last five decades to the story of Jamaican music but, if you were to ask the question, most observers would probably decide that Bob Marley was the man. Nothing can ever be taken away from the towering influence of 'The King of Reggae' and he will remain forever the immediately recognisable voice and face of reggae music nearly twenty five years after his untimely death. Perhaps others more familiar with the history of the music would put forward the name of Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd who nurtured the careers of many of the music's major stars at Studio One. Those who consider themselves real aficionados of raw roots reggae would doubtless argue that nobody could come near the haunting presence of Augustus Pablo. Lyn Taitt exemplified the sweet soulful sound of Rock Steady and is every bit as important in his own way as any of the many names that might well be proposed yet is still nowhere near as well known. Despite the fact that Rock Steady's ascendancy was only for a very brief time the extent to which Lyn Taitt's playing and arrangements have influenced the sound of reggae music is incalculable.

"Rocksteady was a great change from the Ska. Lyn Taitt he's the man who changed Jamaican music right round from Ska to Rocksteady."
Derrick Morgan

Not many records were actually credited to Lyn Taitt & The Jets but as the most in demand session band in Kingston between 1966 and 1968 the records that Lyn and his band played on are numbered in their thousands;

The results of some of those sessions are featured here neatly divided into instrumental cuts on one CD that includes selections from Lyn Taitt & The Jets' rare Merritone long playing release for Federal 'Sounds Of Rock Steady' and 'Rock Steady Greatest Hits' and a further CD containing vocal cuts. The vocal selection includes some incredibly rare recordings alongside well known works such as 'Hold Me Tight' from Johnny Nash, the song that gives this collection its title. Built around one of Lyn's best ever arrangements this superb slice of pure pop reached Number Five in the UK charts in the summer of 1968.

"They may call me for a session at nine in the morning till twelve noon and another session would start at one and finish at four with another one at five till eight at night. So maybe four sessions a day, Five sessions a day for different promoters."
Lyn Taitt

Lyn Taitt was born in 1934 in San Fernando, Trinidad and began his musical career when he was 'eight or nine years' as a steel pan player and arranger but, at the age of fifteen, he acquired a guitar from a friend for twenty Trinidadian dollars and became a guitarist. He first played his guitar in a group called The Dutch Brothers but after two years Lyn left to form his own group who in 1962 were given a contract by Byron Lee to go to Jamaica to play at the Independence celebrations. Lyn loved Jamaica so much that he decided to stay and, after first joining The Sheiks  he moved on to The Cavaliers, playing out at school dances and functions. He then formed Lyn Taitt & The Comets who started to do some recording in addition to their live dates and he put Lyn Taitt & The Jets together in 1966. Lyn had already recorded as a guitarist with The Skatalites and Lyn Taitt & The Jets were signed to Federal Records on the strength of their leader's already formidable and musically forceful reputation:

"Hopeton Lewis Came to the Federal recording studio with a song called 'Take It Easy' and I find the ska was too fast, very, very fast. So I told them let's do this one slow, very slow, and as the music got slower it had spaces. The slower the music, it have more spaces to do something with so I put a bass line and I play in unison with the bass and I get a bass line and a piano. Sometimes I strum, sometimes I play a bass line with the bass. That was the first slow song. Nothing else was slow at that time, everything had been ska."
Lyn Taitt

Many others have also claimed to have put a halt to Ska's rapid inexorable pace and inventing the Rock Steady beat and, as ever, the truth probably lies somewhere between the lines. Roy Shirley's story regarding his inspiration for 'Hold Them', for instance, which he recalls came from the sound of the Salvation Army marching band has, like the record itself, a particular convincing authenticity. However Hopeton Lewis' 'Take It Easy' is usually given the credit as the first Rock Steady record. But Lyn had done more than slow the beat down and the manner in which he arranged the instruments with the constant melodic bass line defined the music that was to become known as 'reggae' throughout the world:

"For that tempo the tempo is very slow with the bass and guitar line playing the same thing. You used to use two guitars, Hux Brown and myself or another guitarist and myself. And it was very slow but with a definite bass line going straight through the song."
Lyn Taitt

The bass no longer gave equal emphasis to every beat but instead played a repeated that syncopated the rhythm and the rhythmic focus shifted to the bass and the drums where it has remained ever since. The horns that had dominated Ska were no longer so prominent while vocalists, influenced by then current USA soul singers, now came into their own. Credit has to be given here to piano player Gladstone 'Gladdy' Anderson, also a musical arranger for The Jets who had inadvertently given this new music a name on finishing the final take of 'Take It Easy' as he remarked on the 'Rock Steady' nature of the rhythm. One of his not so well known roles was as a translator for Lyn's Trinidadian accent:

"I had a really strong Trinidadian accent. The Jamaicans didn't really understand it fully so Gladdy used to look after all of that. Talk to the singers and get everything clear."
Lyn Taitt

Lyn Taitt & The Jets were in constant demand although there were other Rock Steady bands including Duke Reid's Treasure Isle house band Tommy McCook & The Supersonics (who often featured Lyn Taitt), The Soul Brothers (who would also feature an uncredited Lyn Taitt) at Coxsone Dodd's Studio One and Bobby Aitken & The Carib Beats. However Lyn Taitt & The Jets constant creativity and consistency were unparalleled and remain unmatched in the history of Jamaican music providing the basis for all that was to follow. Lyn still seems unaware of the lasting power of the music that he created and remains a self-deprecating, modest figure:

"It was a pleasure to get up and get an idea and put your idea on to a record and to have the public like what you do is a great gift. At the time we were not thinking of it from a business aspect. We were just interested in creating beautiful music, (I'm just an ordinary guitar player trying to continue the heritage of black music from the West Indies."
Lyn Taitt


Lyn Taitt & The Boys - Storm Warning
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Smokey Places
Roland Alphonso & Lyn Taitt - Stream Of Life
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - I Don't Want To See You Cry
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Nice Time
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - You Have Caught Me
Lnn Taitt & The Jets - Napoleon Solo
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Pressure And Slide
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Long Story
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Soloman
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Soul Shot
Lnn Taitt & The Jets - The Last Walz
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Why Did You Leave Me (To Cry)
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Mr. Dooby
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Unity
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Only A Smile
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - The Brush
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - I Am The Upsetter Version
Roland Alphonso & Lyn Taitt - Dreamland
Lyn Taitt & The Jets/Cool Sticky - El Casino Royale
Lyn Taitt & The Jets/Lee Perry - Soul Food
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Why Am I Treated So Badly
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Batman
Lyn Taitt with Leslie Butler - Top Cat
Lyn Taitt & The Jets/Gladstone Anderson - Intensified '68
Lyn Taitt & The Jets/Gladstone Anderson - Rainbow Valley
Lyn Taitt with Tommy McCook - Adam Twelve
Joe White - Rudies All Around
Hopeton Lewis - Cool Collie
Roy Shirley - Get On The Ball
Lloyd & The Groovers - Listen To The Music
John Holt & Paragons - Talking Love
Dermot Lynch - Cool It
Keith & Tex - Leaving On That Train
Errol Dunkley - I'm Going Home
Jamaicans - Cool Night
Stranger & Gladdy - Seeing Is Knowing
West Indians - Right On Time
Sealmakers - She Said She Loves Me
Kingstonians - Crime Don't Pay
Nehemiah Reid - Family War
Overtakers - Girl You Ruff
Mellotones - Fat Girl In Red
Delroy Wilson - I Want To Love You
Gaylads - Joy In The Morning
Viceorys - Send Requests
Paulette & Consomates - Stop The Wedding
Hopeton Lewis & Glen Brown - Live Like A King
Melodians - Swing And Dine
Joe Higgs - You Hurt My Soul
Kilowatts - Bring It On Home
Joyhnny Nash - Hold Me Tight
Gaylets - I Like Your World
Ken Boothe - Can't You See

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