Return of The Melodians

Saturday, February 14, 2015

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WHEN Tony Brevett died in October 2013, it left Trevor McNaughton as the sole survivor of The Melodians, one of reggae's great harmony groups. The other original member, Brent Dowe, passed away in January 2006.

McNaughton, who started the group in 1963, was not ready to call it quits. After performing solo last year in the United States, Canada and Europe, he recruited Winston Dias and Taurus Alphonso to revive the group and is currently recording songs for an album with producer Willie Lindo in South Florida.

So far, they have done fresh versions of Sweet Sensation and You Don't Need Me, two of The Melodians' biggest hit songs, for Lindo's Heavybeat Records. Lindo was working on new material with the group when Dowe and Brevett died.

"Wi find The Melodians soun' might not be as perfect as Brent and Tony, but it's alright wid me," said McNaughton from his home in South Florida.

Like McNaughton, Dias and Alphonso are longtime residents of the Sunshine State. Dias had a hit song (Cericy Tea) with harmony group The Movers during the late 1960s, before migrating to Canada where he lived for 10 years, then settled in Fort Lauderdale.

He recorded sporadically, ran a successful nightclub, and even toured as a member of legendary doo-wop group The Drifters.

Born in Kingston, he first met The Melodians in 1968 when the group was among the hottest acts in Jamaica.

Originally from Mocho, Clarendon, Alphonso made his recording debut in the early 1970s with the self-produced Jesus is a Soul Man and was also a member of a harmony trio called the Mellow Tones. He has two albums -- Strong, Gifted and Black and Survivor -- to his name.

Dias acknowledged the fact that he and Alphonso have big shoes to fill. Dowe and Brevett sang lead on some of The Melodians' classic hits including Swing and Dine, Little Nut Tree, You Don't Need Me, and the spiritual By The Rivers of Babylon taken from the The Harder They Come soundtrack.

"It's definitely a task, but we feel great. Wi getting a lotta thumbs-up," he said.

-- Howard Campbell

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