By 1967, the Melodians had left Dodd's roster of acts and signed with Arthur 'Duke' Reid, the famed gun-toting former policeman who operated his small, but much revered recording studio above his liquor store in bond street Kingston. The group was by this time a trio, having parted company with Brown and Cogle who had decided to concentrate on careers outside of music, although the latter continued his close association with the group, penning some of their most popular material over the ensuing years.
With the Treasure Isle sound dominating the Rocksteady sound and the group at their creative peak, the hits came thick and fast, and over the next year or so they enjoyed a run of successes that included 'You Don't Need Me', 'You Have Caught Me', 'Last Train To Expo.'67', 'Gonna Get Along Without You Now', and 'Come On Little Girl'. In early 1968, the common tale of unpaid royalties led to the group moving on to record for Sonia Pottinger, although the change of producer failed to dent the trio's popularity, with their next two singles, 'Little Nut Tree' and 'Swing And Dine' serving to further enhance their standing among Jamaica's music loving public.
By the summer of '68, the trio had joined fellow artistes, the Gaylads, Delroy Wilson and Ken Boothe, in forming Jamaica's first artistes co-operative label, Links, with the aim of having complete creative control - not to mention full royalty payments - over their works. Sadly, the promise of the venture was never realised and although the Melodians' subsequent release on the imprint, 'Sweet Rose' b/w 'It Comes And Goes', proved hugely successful, internal disputes among those within the organisation, allied to distribution difficulties led to its premature demise, after a mere handful of releases.
Disappointed, the trio joined Winston Lowe's newly launched 'Tramp' label, where they continued to supervise and produce their own material, which included 'When There Is You', 'Ring Of Gold', 'You've Got It' and 'Personally Speaking'. The trio also found time for a one-off session for Sonia Pottinger before returning to work with Reid, with whom they cut a number of titles early in 1969, most notably the major Jamaican hit, 'Everybody Bawlin''.
Later that year, the Melodians began what proved to be a hugely successful relationship with Leslie Kong, who was just beginning to enjoy an unprecedented level of international success for a Jamaican producer. Their initial release with Kong was the beautiful 'Sweet Sensation', which Trojan promptly issued in the UK, where it crept into the lower reaches of the Pop chart, the single peaking at number 41 in January 1970.
Although further mainstream chart successes abroad proved elusive, the quality of the Melodians' output for the producer remained undiminished, with their releases from this period Including a series of sublime titles, such as 'A Day Seems So Long', 'Say Darling Say', 'It Took A Miracle' and 'Rivers Of Babylon', a traditional song, the lyrics of which quoted parables from Psalms 137. Later in the decade, the group's rendition was to be slavishly copied by European popsters, Boney M, whose version topped the British Pop charts in 1978.
Meanwhile, back in '70, the Melodians reunited with Sonia Pottinger, for whom they cut a handful of noteworthy sides, including '(You Rule) Your Destiny' and 'No Nola', but the sojourn with the producer proved brief, with their relationship with Leslie Kong continuing to bring out the best in their talents - among their works for Kong from this period were such classics as 'Come Ethiopians, Come', 'My Love, My Life' And 'The Time Has Come'. Tragically in August 1971, however, Kong suffered a fatal heart attack, leaving the Reggae world a much lesser place and his roster of acts without a producer.
The Melodians eventually overcame their grief and resumed their career in earnest, recording some of their finest material over latter part of '71 and into the following year. Highlights included the Tony Brevett-produced 'This Beautiful Land' (aka 'This Tropical Land'), plus sides for a number of local producers, including Pottinger, with whom they cut two medleys ('The Sensational Melodians' and 'The Mighty Melodians'), Sid Bucknor ('In Our Time'), Warrick Lyn ('You Are My Only Love'), Lee Perry ('Round And Round'), Coxsone Dodd ('Little Nut Tree') and N. E. Williams ('Your Turn To Cry').
Towards the end of 1972, the trio reunited with Duke Reid for a last time to record 'Passion Love' and 'Love Makes The World Go Around', while also resuming their on-off relationship with Sonia Pottinger with the strident 'Black Man Kingdom Come'. Meanwhile, Brevett was pursuing a career outside of the group, recording solo material such as 'You Took Me By Surprise' for Martin (Jimmy) Riley and 'Don't Give Up' for Bunny Lee, plus a number of self-produced singles, most notably 'Don't Get Weary', 'Over Hills And Valleys', 'So Ashamed' and 'Black Girl'.
Spurred by his Brevett's solo successes, Dowe, who had previously cut a couple of solo sides for both Byron Smith and Leslie Kong, also took time out to record a number of popular singles for Sonia Pottinger, a move which led to the release of his 1974 album, 'Build Me Up'. The producer also issued a number of Melodians sides around this time, including 'It's All In The Family', a fine version of The Drifters' hit, 'I'll Take You Where The Music's Playing', along with 'Dry Up Yuh Tears' and 'Survival Is The Game'. In addition, the trio cut works for Coxson Dodd ('Burning Fire') and Federal Records ('Loving You').
Although the group had illustrated they had kept pace with the changes sweeping Jamaican music at the time, personnel problems resulted in 1975 being a barren year in terms of their united efforts. Even solo projects were few and far between, with Brevett's excellent self-produced 'Star Light' his only worthwhile release of the year. Dowe was marginally more active, cutting the magnificent 'Down Here In Babylon' for Lee Perry, along with a number of titles for Pottinger.
While 1976 also began slowly, with Dowe and Brevett continuing to record apart, the year eventually witnessed the group's long awaited reunion on disc, with a number of singles bearing the Melodians name finally seeing issue. Among these were 'What Am I To Do' (released by Sonia Pottinger), the Channel One-produced 'Why Little Girl' b/w 'Passion Love', and the beautiful 'Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying', released by Harry Johnson on his aptly named Harry J imprint. The trio continued to work with the latter into 1977, resulting in their eagerly anticipated debut album, 'Sweet Sensation', but frustratingly their reunion proved brief and soon after the release of the LP, the Melodians went their separate ways once more. Of the group's three members, Dowe proved the most active musically over the next few years, recording for a variety of Kingston-based producers as well as issuing material on the Jah B imprint.
The Melodians finally got back together in 1983 to record the self-produced 'Irie Feelings' for Gary Himelfarb's RAS Records, which also issued 'Warning' b/w 'Push A Little Harder' as a single. But despite positive reviews, the album failed to bring about a sustained reunion and after cutting a number of sides for Bunny Lee, Dowe, McNaughton and Brevett yet again parted company.
It was some years before the Melodians once more pooled their talents to record 'Song Of Love' for Tappa Zukie, but thankfully this time the union was to prove more enduring. The resurgence of interest in their earlier works and the growing demand for live appearances convinced the group that they still had something to offer the world of music, and recent years saw them touring extensively, completing string of dates in California shortly before Dowe's untimely death. They had also finally resumed studio work, the trio cutting a number of sides with producer, Willie Lindo for a new, as yet unissued album. As to whether or not it will ever see issue, only time will tell.
On the evening of Saturday 28th January 2009, Brent Dowe collapsed at his home in Hughenden, Kingston, after suffering a heart attack. Sadly, despite the best efforts of medical staff, he passed away at the University Hospital of the West Indies in the early hours of the following morning, aged just 59. A memorial service for Dowe was held the following month at the Oakton Park headquarters of Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes & Affiliates, where many of his friends from the music industry paid their respects and bade farewell to one of the most talented, yet under-rated performers Jamaica has ever produced.