THE ORIGINAL: The Paragons (1966)
This is a great example of rock steady music. Old school, midtempo, West Indian/Jamaican beat, minimal instrumentation — guitar, bass, drums and violin — with loud and strong vocals.
John Holt’s lead vocal is perfect, and the call and response background vocals are spot on. If you’re already into this kind of music, or want to learn more about it, grab any Trojan label compilation. Easy and cool music to chill to.
THE COVER: Blondie (1980)
I’ve always thought that this was an interesting cover for Blondie, but it was 1980, so a new wave band covering a classic rock steady jam shouldn’t be a surprise.
They followed the basic arrangement, but did a lovely, lush cover, complete with strings, Mariachi horns, steel drums, maracas and other hand-held percussion. It’s like an audible margarita!
WHO DOES IT BETTER?
Well, I have a deep love and appreciation for old school rock steady, and I also really love Blondie, so for me, this is a tie!
NOW YOU DECIDE!