Across the first half of the '60s, Americans laid claim to surf and sand, with groups like the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean and a wave of Hollywood beach party movies. With "On the Beach," the Paragons took the festivities back to Jamaica's shores. Written by lead singer John Holt, the song's lyrics may be celebratory, but the trio's performance has such a wistful quality that "Beach" seems like a nostalgic look back at happier days.
Tommy McCook & the Supersonics, who accompany the singers, further feed that feeling with their gently lilting rhythm, whose arrangement just hints at a big-band styling but is countered by Ernest Ranglin's surf guitar. Another Treasure Isle treat, and another smash in the flood of hits the trio released across 1966-1967, this song, like so many other Paragons' classics, was later versioned by U-Roy.
Incidentally, "On the Beach" accidentally launched the version B-side, after a vocal-less dubplate was mistakenly given to sound system supremo Mr Midnight (aka Ruddy Redwood). The DJ began an impromptu mixing between the vocal and instrumental plates much to the crowd's delight, and thus requested more vocal-less plates to work with. In response, producer Duke Reid began creating instrumental versions, and soon the entire Jamaican music industry followed suit.