Easily one of the most popular and enduring vocal harmony groups of the Rocksteady era were the Uniques. Slim Smith was the catalyst for the formation of the group as well as the lead vocalist. Keith ‘Slim’ Smith had grown up in the West Street area of Kingston. He had formed the ‘Techniques’ with Winston Riley before leaving to set up the Uniques. He had often been in direct competion with Bob Marley for the mantle of being the best lead vocalist of the Rocksteady period.
â€œBefore The Wailers hit, the most popular group was The Techniques with Slim Smithâ€¦â€ – Clement â€˜Coxsoneâ€™ Dodd
â€œAt The Carib Theatre, The State Theatre, The Regal Theatre and the Music Union, we stole the show from any other group performing and, on one memorable occasion, from The Wailers where Bob Marley threatened Slim Smithâ€¦â€ – Jimmy Riley
Slim would go on to have an outstanding solo career that took him on tours throughout the world. Tragically, music fans everywhere lost one of the greatest vocalists to ever come out of Jamaica when he passed away in 1973 at the young age of 25. Sad circumstances, but the music carries on…and oh how sweet that music is.
However, it should be noted that the focus of this set is more on the group’s less-known cuts; thus, to truly round out your collection of Slim Smith tunes, I’d recommend, at the very least, for you to pick up Trojan’s set Keep That Lovelight Shining which is stellar from start to finish.
â€œSlim is an incomparable singer even though heâ€™s been dead thirty odd, coming on for forty years. Slim was the nearest thing to Curtis Mayfield and he could also play instrumentsâ€¦look how long Slim Smith has been dead and you hear his music still. Do you know of another singer whoâ€™s come up like Slim Smith? Youâ€™ve never had another singer whoâ€™s made that impact on Jamaican music like Slim Smith.â€ – Bunny â€˜Strikerâ€™ Lee