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The Melodians are one of Jamaica's greatest Rocksteady groups, cutting a series of classic singles during the late '60s and early '70s that included the internationally famed "Rivers of Babylon" and "Sweet Sensation." In 1966, when driving rhythms of ska were abandoned in favor of the slower, more soulful Rocksteady, Jamaican performers discovered a freedom of expression they had previously been denied. In overcoming the limitations of ska the dawn of the Rocksteady age begun. .A few groups rose to notoriety with none more popular than The Melodians.
The group was formed in the Greenwich Town area of Kingston in 1965 by Tony Brevett (brother of Skatalites bassist Lloyd Brevett), Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton. Close friend, Renford Cogle.assisted with writing and arranging material. In 1966 The Melodians made their recording debut with Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One label with the releases "Lay It On". "Meet Me", "I Should Have Made It Up" and "Let's Join Hands (Together)" Early in 1967, The Melodians moved over to Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label recording successfull hits "You Have Caught Me," "Expo 67," "I'll Get Along Without You," "You Don't Need Me" (which featured U-Roy), and "Come On Little Girl". These recordings established them as the sweetest-sounding vocal trios on the Rocksteady circuit. In 1968,over a financial dispute with Reid The Melodians left Treasure Isle and joined up with producer Sonia Pottinger releasing two more hits, "Little Nut Tree" and "Swing and Dine."
Eager to exert more control over their destiny, the trio joined fellow artists, The Gaylads, Delroy Wilson and Ken Boothe, in launching the Links Label. Although their resulting release on the label, "Sweet Rose", "It Comes and Goes" were popular, internal disputes among the artists resulted in the demise of Links records.
Late in 1968, the trio joined Winston Lowe's newly launched "Tramp" label, where they continued to supervise and produce their own material, which included "When There Is You", "Ring Of Gold", "You've Got It" and "Personally Speaking". They also found time to record one-off sessions for both Sonia Pottinger and Coxsone Dodd before returning to work with Reid early the following year, cutting a number of titles the most notable being, "Everybody Bawlin’"
In 1969, The Melodians began recording for producer Leslie Kong breaking through to a wider international audience releasing some of the most highly acclaimed smash hits such as. "Sweet Sensation" "Rivers of Babylon," of which became the group's signature tune. "Rivers of Babylon”, whose lyrics quoted parables from psalms 137 also marked the emergence of Rastafarian spiritual consciousness in the group's songwriting of which was also revered in a later realease "Black Man Kingdom Come." “Rivers of Babylon", was copied by Bony M, who enjoyed international success scoring over a million sales and becoming the second highest selling single in the UK in 1978.
Other successful releases with Kong included "It's My Delight", which was issued by Trojan in the UK (where it reached the UK pop chart, in January 1970) "A Day Seems So Long", "Say Darling Say", and "It Took A Miracle." However, in August 1971 the Jamaican music industry lost one of its finest talents when Kong, who still at the height of his success suffered a fatal heart attack
Despite the shock, the group overcame the tragedy to record some of their finest material, which included the Tony Brevett-produced "This Beautiful Land" (featured on the history of trojan vol.2, cdtal-900). They also worked with a series of local producers, returning to Pottinger once again to cut two medleys of their old hits "The Sensational Melodians" and "The Mighty Melodians", and later worked with Sid Bucknor releasing "In Our Time”, Warrick Lyn "You Are My Only Love", Lee Perry "Round and Round" and N.E.Williams "Your Turn To Cry.”