Steady Ups

Soul of the City

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Hailing from Sacramento, California, the Steady Ups have garnered an international reputation for authentic, vintage-style ska, reggae and rocksteady, and have been featured on numerous compilations and a split-CD with the Speakeasies. Their debut full-length album is a generous program of original but relentlessly old-school material: rubbery, organ-driven rocksteady grooves, churning roots reggae with sexy female vocals, and the occasional loping ska number. Instrumentally speaking, this band is as good as they come; they manage that counterintuitive balance between tightness and looseness that characterizes the best reggae ensembles, and on tracks like "Gun You Down" and "Just a Little While" (which features a guest appearance by King Django) they sound almost exactly like the Upsetters when they were at the peak of their game. Vocally, their success is a bit more mixed; Shannan Robertson has a nice voice and uses it well, but Ken Beasley has pitch problems that occasionally get severe enough to distract you from the pleasures of the music itself. Overall, though, this album is definitely worth hearing.

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