Paul Douglas revisits glory years on ‘Solid’

by Aug 15, 2023News

Paul Douglas revisits glory years on 'Solid'

It’s the mid-1960s, and America is overwhelmed by music from British Invasion acts as well as the soul explosion from Motown Records and Stax. In Jamaica, there is a sound called rock steady, crafted by musicians like Paul Douglas.

One of reggae’s premier drummers, Douglas played on countless hit songs for producers, mainly Leslie Kong and Toots and The Maytals, Kong’s leading act.

As a member of OBessa, which comprises former members of The Maytals band, Douglas revisits those glory years on ‘Solid’, a 15-song album released in July. It contains updated versions of enduring songs they played on during the ‘60s and ‘70s, such as Alton Ellis’ ‘Girl I’ve Got A Date’, ‘Those Guys’ by The Sensations and Paul Simon’s ‘Mother And Child Reunion’.

According to the South Florida-based Douglas, the concept behind ‘Solid’ is simple. “Reintroducing these classics to the current generation as well as the many fans of reggae music across the world,” he said.

Helping in that reintroduction are legendary bass player Jackie Jackson, guitarists Lynford “Hux” Brown (who died in June, 2020), Rad Bryant, Andy Bassford, and Carl Harvey and keyboardist Charles Farquharson. All are members of OBessa, formerly of The Maytals band.

OBessa - Solid

Leslie Butler, a pianist who played on numerous rock steady songs, makes a guest appearance on ‘Solid’. So too keyboardist Robbie Lyn, who got his start during that era; trumpeter Mickey Hanson, guitarists Willie Lindo and James Choate, and saxophonist Dean Fraser.

There are two versions of ‘Mother And Child Reunion’ on ‘Solid’ — an instrumental, and a vocal cut featuring Jackson’s wife Karen Smith (who died in September, 2021) and his daughter Courtney.

Both feature the famous tremolo intro by Brown, who made his name as a session player at Kong’s Beverley’s Records, playing for Toots and The Wailers.

Toots Hibbert died from complications of Covid-19 in September, 2020 at age 77. Initially, Douglas and his colleagues were keen to continue recording and touring as The Maytals, but those plans were shelved to avoid a legal clash with the singer’s family.

Whatever their name, Douglas credits a unique bond between the musicians for making the ‘Solid’ sessions work.

“Synergy. We literally know how each musician thinks. There is a special chemistry that is felt when we play together….especially between Jackie Jackson, Rad Bryant and myself as we have been playing together for decades, in the studio as well as on the road,” he said.

(Photos courtesy of Paul Douglas)

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