It used to be completely normal to order a cassette because of the label, cover, or based on a review. In the era of YouTube and streaming platforms, it happens less and less, because pretty much everything is instantly available in a digital version and you can easily decide if you want to add this record to your collection. Yet in this case, to fully enjoy the first listening to the vinyl I didn’t even click on the pre-release link on RudeMaker (ok, I just didn’t want to overheat the already busy RM’s servers).
Steady Social Club – Take One
As I already told you, during the purchase I didn’t know the Steady Social Club debut album’s content. However, I knew who was responsible for Take One and that it was to be kept in a rocksteady style. If I had a mustache, I’d smile, adding: “Yeah, right, Polish rocksteady, mhm”. Well, I don’t have it, so instead I thought: “Yeah, Polish rocksteady!”. I’m not gonna lie, I had some serious concerns about the final effect of the Steady Social Club recordings. Not because I didn’t believe in the musicians involved in the project. I was rather worried about the production – who the hell in Poland will make it sound as if it was created on a tiny Caribbean island in 1967? Maybe I panicked a bit, but you will admit that 2020 is a time of disappointment for all of us – no gigs, no parties, canceled festivals. It’s hard to be an optimist. Let’s just say, that if the long-awaited first Polish Rocksteady Record was to turn out bad, thousands of Polish hearts could never rise again after such a blow. So does Take One meet the expectations of Poles who have been dreaming of their PRR for over 50 years?
In my opinion most definitely yes! This album is excellent from the first to the last sound. I promise you won’t take it off your gramophone for the next days or maybe weeks. Take One is 12 beautiful rocksteady songs (in fact probably 11, I’m pretty sure there’s one reggae exception) about love, the happy one and the not necessarily so – which is exactly what solid rocksteady should be about. You probably won’t fool your uncle at a birthday party, that it’s a Derrick Harriott’s record, but as soon as he hears the intro to “Those are fools”, he’ll humbly admit that it’s first class rocksteady.
The recordings were done in one take (the smartest of you already know where the album’s title comes from) and using analog equipment (16-track tape recorder), mixed in mono, and with all these tricks that make them sound like they should. In 10 songs you’ll hear Ania Teliczan (who sang with Real Cool Sound and guest sang in The Bartenders), Wioletta Baran (of the funk band Big Fat Mama), and Boris Borowski (of Spartan Allstars) singing in different configurations. They’re all kept at a fairly slow pace, as befits rocksteady. But there’s no need to hurry, sit back and enjoy the music. A strange feeling can overwhelm you – the songs ooze so slowly that you get the impression that the moment when you need to get up from the sofa and turn the record will never happen. Well, I don’t see any weak points in these recordings. I love them all, from the first to the last note. If I had to pick some favorites, they might be “Those are Fools”, “My Biggest Mistake”, early reggae “Friend or Foe” and “There’s The Door”, which has a huge live show potential.
I really like the idea of involving 3 different singers. Their voices complement each other very well. Perhaps it’s a tribute to all these famous Jamaican vocal groups, which played a significant role in the history of the island’s music. I just hope that there won’t be any problems with gathering the full lineup for concerts.
Buy this record while it’s still available. In a few weeks, when the whole world finds out about Steady Social Club, you’ll watch this album on Discogs and wonder nervously about which kidney to sell. On my shelf Take One stands next to The Frightnrs, Steady 45s, Jr. Thomas and The Volcanos and The Slackers – my favorite contemporary bands reaching for rocksteady in their repertoire. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely staying in this Steady Social Club.