Though they remain well-known only to reggae fanatics, the Pioneers were, without doubt, one of the three or four most important and influential of the late rocksteady and early reggae vocal trios. Their two songs about the ill-fated racehorse Long Shot (titled "Long Shot Bus' Me Bet" and "Long Shot Kick de Bucket") are acknowledged classics of the genre, and "Time Hard" has been covered by just about every second and third wave ska band in existence. The Beat (known in the U.S. as the English Beat) ended their debut album with a fine version of the Pioneers' "Jackpot." But the Pioneers really hit their stride with later material, much of which was quite poppy and soul-influenced. Their version of Jimmy Cliff's "Let Your Yeah Be Yeah," which leads off this program, is one of the most thrilling reggae recordings ever committed to vinyl, and their rockish arrangement (complete with horns and strings) of Sam & Dave's "You Don't Know Like I Know" is almost as good. Their adaptations of "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" are less inspired, but still worth hearing. Give and Take is an excellent place to start your exploration of this band's catalog.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson