Music » Livewire

The Melodians

With Yellow Wall Dub Squad and Itawe. Saturday, April 7, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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The Melodians are best known for the haunting "Rivers of Babylon," the biblically inspired Rasta lament found on the soundtrack to the 1972 cult film The Harder They Come. But in Jamaica, the Melodians reigned supreme alongside the Paragons and the Heptones as the ultimate purveyors of rocksteady, a soulfully lush music popular from 1966 to 1968, bridging the happy-go-lucky sounds of ska with the dread of roots reggae.

What set the Melodians apart (besides harmony singer Trevor McNaughton) was the fact that the trio possessed two great singer-songwriters: Tony Brevette and the late Brent Dowe. This ensured variety in the group's repertoire, which included such classics as "Sweet Sensation," "Swing and Dine," and "Little Nut Tree." All of these epitomize rocksteady's smooth, three-part harmonies.

Sporadic reunions have taken place since the group's 1973 demise, with the trio once again performing just prior to Dowe's unexpected passing in early 2006. The current tour serves as Brevette and McNaughton's tribute to their fallen partner and friend.

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