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On the Beach With the Paragons

The Paragons

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Album Review

In 1998, the French Jet Set label reissued this classic 1967 album on CD. The original art work was included along with informative new liner notes and write-ups on both the Paragons and Duke "the Trojan" Reid (founder of the Kingston-based Treasure Isle Records and an important figure in Jamaican music). Originally a Treasure Isle LP, On the Beach with the Paragons sold well in Jamaica and also became a hit in England (where reggae and ska have been huge since the '60s). One of reggae's finest vocal harmony groups of the '60s, the Paragons were the reggae equivalent of soulsters like the Four Tops, the Delfonics and the Miracles — and it's impossible to miss the northern soul influence on such gems as "Island in the Sun," "Happy-Go-Lucky Girl," "Only a Smile" and their most famous hit, "The Tide Is High" (which Blondie covered with splendid results in 1980). The Paragons' charismatic lead singer, John Holt, has inspired comparisons to Bob Marley — to be sure, there was some similarity, but Holt was certainly his own man. Not only is On the Beach essential listening for reggae enthusiasts, it's also a CD that lovers of vocal-group soul can appreciate.

Biography

Formed: 1956 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '50s, '60s

Founded in Brooklyn, NY, the Paragons were a black vocal harmony quintet signed to the New York-based Winley label, which was also home to the Jesters ("The Wind"). Julius McMichael (lead), Ben Frazier (first tenor), Donald Travis (second tenor), Ricky Jackson (baritone), and Al Brown (bass) had a distinctive sound with McMichael's high tenor voice as the lead, very much defining this distinctly New York-centered doo wop sound. They began their...
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On the Beach With the Paragons, The Paragons
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