The Versatiles

The Versatiles vocal trio was formed in 1967 by Keith Byles, Louis Davis and Earl Dudley. The three vocalists embarked on recording sessions with Joe Gibbs, who had just set up his Amalgamated label.…
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The Versatiles vocal trio was formed in 1967 by Keith Byles, Louis Davis and Earl Dudley. The three vocalists embarked on recording sessions with Joe Gibbs, who had just set up his Amalgamated label. Their debut, "Just Can't Win', was the third release through the producer's UK outlet and introduced the band's distinctive rocksteady harmonies to a wider audience. The group was aptly named as Byles" lead vocals resembled a variety of performers including the Pioneers, Desmond Dekker and Ken Boothe. The trio's second release, "Trust The Book', was relegated to the b-side of the Mellowtones" "Fat Girl In Red". In 1968, the trio entered the Jamaican Song Festival with "The Time Has Come'. As is the custom with festival entries they toured the island promoting the song that reached the finals, although it did not win the award. As runners-up they found themselves once again on the b-side, this time on the Pioneers" "Tickle Me For Days". In 1969, the Soul Sisters released the risqué "Wreck A Buddy", that proved a club hit in the UK. The song featured the third appearance of the Versatiles on the b-side, performing the equally kitsch "Push It In". Other notable songs with Gibbs included, "Let Me Through (Mr Gateman)", "Wareika Hill", "Teardrops Falling" and "Long Long Time". The trio's "Lulu Bell' finally acknowledged their reputation as a force to be reckoned with, by featuring them on both sides of the disc. The release also signalled the departure of Byles who embarked on a solo career performing initially as King Chubby and later, Junior Byles. Dudley and Davis continued performing as the Versatiles and maintained a low profile, initially recording with Willie Williams" Soul Sounds label. In 1974, the trio were re-united and with Lee Perry recorded a version of Peter Tosh's "Stepping Razor", that was released through Pama Records in the UK. By the mid-70s the Versatiles had disbanded but they are still regarded as underrated pioneers of Jamaican music.