Audio Active Spaced Dolls
DREAM MACHINE HDCA10048
"Return of the Red I", the band's last set and their first for Sony Japan, was a major disappointment - a rushed concept album dedicated to weed never made much sensi. With more time and the newly sharpened edge of their Dry & Heavy dub offshoot this new set is of a different order. Opening with the ten minute epic "Cosmos -> Chaos", through a warm version of the old Ken Boothe Studio One classic "You Don't Know", arriving at a Jap rap from Boss the MC (could be Welsh?) and the heavy pivot of "Basspace" with a driving egoless bass from Doug Wimbish, this is a case of a deal with a major having the opposite effect to the usual stultifying outcome. The introduction of the Yokan Horns extends the appeal of the tunes whilst production, with contributions from Sherwood, maintains the inimitable AA sound,. Will restore the faith of longtime fans of the band.
Mike Brooks & Friends Just the Vibes 1976-1983
Although never a musician or producer to grab the headlines, Mike Brooks has a quality pedigree from being in the right places at the right times.
Following up their excellent albums from Alton Ellis and Joseph Cotton (Jah Walton) the German label Moll-Selekta once more delivers a fine document of reggae revives. The sixteen tracks are split between vocal and DJ versions with no dubs. Jah Lloyd, Cornell Campbell, Barry Brown, Don Carlos, Errol Dunkley and others are engineered by a galaxy of Jamaica's finest - Tubby, Scientist, Jackie Mittoo, Lee Perry, Jammy etc. So it's a virtual roots hymnal all the way with the stand out tracks being "Changes" and "Solid Ground" - two from Mike Brooks himself on what sounds like Scratch/Black Ark produced rhythms of "Heart of the Congos" vintage.
Dub Syndicate Live at the Maritime Hall
2b1 RECORDS CD2015
The Maritime Hall is a San Franciscan venue which has prided itself on presenting some of reggae's legends over the last few years - Lee "Scratch" Perry, Greg Isaacs, Yellowman etc. most of which are available on both audio and video from their website (www.maritimehall.com). Dub Syndicate's show from a couple of years ago is a remarkably clean recording taken live from the mixing board. Unfortunately its minus the magic fingers of Sherwood in the dubbing area, but retains all the samples and loops which characterised the typical Dub Syndicate show. Perhaps one for the few remaining completist On-U fans.
King Tubby & the Aggrovators Shalom Dub
Possibly the first reissue for this album, certainly on CD, since it first appeared in the UK on the Klik label back in 1975. There were sixteen tracks on that piece of vinyl then and they are faithfully reproduced here now. A mix of well known rhythms such as "Move out of Babylon" and "Natty Dreadlocks inna Greenwich Farm" together with less known cuts which are sure to delight the searcher for true Tubby's versions, for all these tunes feature dubbed out vocals, the sweetest being the duos of Derek Morgan and the late Hortense Ellis. "Wonder Why (Dub)" was one of Tubbys favourites, in fact its all dub of a sublime and relaxed order - rather than of the "mash dem down" variety. One for the connoisseur of the finer things in dub.
Pablo Moses Special Selection: Anthology Part 1
KEEP ON KICKING B12112
Summons is duly served that this volume is merely the first amongst six scheduled to document the majority of the output of this most neglected of reggae vocalists. Unfortunately there's a mix between the sublime, such as selections from the singer's elemental "Revolutionary Dream" particularly "I Man a Grasshopper", and the plainly dire, mostly the material recorded in the States and which is West Coast style "festival reggae" at its most vapid. Advice here is to look out for any straight reissues of the aforementioned classic set and hold out for what volume six in the series may bring - "Dubbing to the Max".
Lee Perry Enter the Ark
When judgement time comes, envisage a special ceremony for all those involved in the misappropriation of his work passing before the vengeful Hugh Rainford Perry - it could last for eternity. At least the Ascension releases from Australia look good and usually have a top selection of tunes. This time they falter as the pick of this set, Flying Sensation's "Shoulder to the Wheel" and Keithis' "Cost of Living" - both with dubs, are also to be located on the equally dubious "Lost Treasures of the Ark", a three CD Upsetter set on U.K. Orchid. It's a jungle out there.
Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus Rastafari Dub
Twilight Circus Dub Sound System Binshaker Dub
M RECORDS LP150
A brief mention for these two albums both of which are re-released on vinyl. The Ras Michael set is one of his best, both wild and processional at the same time. Set amongst banks of undulating percussion and swathes of reverb keyboard this album can be perfectly programmed with any Sun Ra from the early seventies. More contemporary is the release from Ryan Moore's Twilight Circus Dub Sound System which dates back to 1997 - even three years is a long time in this increasingly imploding scene - but a debut on 180gm virgin vinyl. Ryan is getting more and more front due to ceaseless gigging and the energetic dedication with which he approaches a genre whose adherents can sometimes match Northern Soul fans for sheer snobbishness. "Binshaker Dub" is probably his strongest album to date and therefore the place to start.
Submission Replay - The Dub Remixes
Submission is a Berlin based live dub outfit who have worked the festivals across Europe with the addition of regular MCs Paul PM and Tikiman. Overall their sound is warmer and more inviting than the starkness of the Berlin sound, maybe closer to that championed at Vienna's Dub Club on whose recent compilation they appeared. Remixers at work here include the Rootsman, for whom Submission will soon be repaying the compliment, Thomas Fehlmann, Sun Electric, @lien HiFi and most satisfyingly Rechenzentrum. Whether by accident or design the balance in the remix selection makes for a varied listening album, which can be difficult to find on the remix racks these days. Worth checking.
Urban Dub Urban Dub
Another UK outfit who prefer to take the music out on the road rather than stick to the studio. Roop from the Dubwise Records and DJ Clive Austen were blooded in the Conscious Sounds stable. With the presence of regular vocalist MTC there is a tendency to tunes with lyrics which is unusual coming out of the instrumentally dominated UK roots scene. Saxophonist Marjorie Paris completes the line-up. The album has a strong start with the opening few efforts proving distinctive in both composition and production. But weighing in a fourteen song set makes heavy demands on rigorous quality control -missing here. Time will tell.
Various Studio One Rockers
SOUL JAZZ SJRCD/LP48
For a newcomer the music of Studio One has traditionally been difficult to approach. The first problem being the irregular supply or absence of product. More subtle issues arose with the suitability of the listening environment or selection of the introductory material for the musically impatient. Here the Soul Jazz girls and boys "do a 100%" job strictly on Studio One, placing more obvious or popular rhythms next to those we need to know better. So we get Ernest Ranglin's "Surfin'" next to "Village Soul" Lennie Hibbert's heavenly vibes treatment of the jazz standard "Quiet Village", not only Horace Andy's bad boy warning "Skylarking" but also Jazzbo's elemental toast to the rhythm "Crabwalking". Shouldn't there be awards for this kind of stuff?
Various Hi-Fidelity Dub Sessions - The Second Chapter
The second set of dubwize selections from Rob K's genre busting Chicago label with tunes sourced from Vienna, the U.K. and U.S.A. One would not have assumed that U.K. roots heavyweights such as Jah Warrior and Hughie Izachaar would fit so seamlessly into Guidance-style programming, but it works and its irresistible, which goes to prove that ears can be cleansed more easily than hearts. This is a prelude to the label's deeper venture " ... presents Rootical Sounds" which is set to break down more of those annoying dancehall barriers. Although altogether smoother Guidance is doing the same job from a different direction for reggae and dub as the "100%" series from Soul Jazz. Amongst others there are deep sweet cuts here from G-Corp, Dubphonic, Indian Ropeman, Tosca and DJ Spooky.
Various Docking Sequence: BSI Campaign Vol.1
BSI RECORDS BSI015-2
Pan-American East Coast Bugs
BSI RECORDS 12" VINYL BSI013-1
MENTION SPOOKY 12"
The impact of the On-U spore spread by the collectives wandering across the U.S.A., Europe and Asia between ten and fifteen years ago is now becoming evident, much of the content of "Docking Sequence" can be traced to that source. This compilation is both a blatant and worthy attempt to up the ante on the overdue recognition of the globalisation of new dub. More or less a 50/50 split between the new and old worlds, the temptation for UK ears is those tracks generated by American cousins rather than the material from Alpha & Omega, Rootsman, Black Faction, Jah Warrior etc - excellent though they uniformly turn out to be. Raz Mesinai comes on like Ornette Coleman at a 21st Century Town Hall, whilst another BSI artist, Sound Secretion manage a dub and hip hop fusion rather than clash. Closing track is "Anodyne", more dub art from DJ Spooky and available on a 12" vinyl picture disc with extra mixes.
LaBradford's Mark Nelson re-emerges on the West Coat as Pan American with the East Coast Bugs 12", an exercise in how minimalist dubtechno (as contrasted with the almost always tedious technodub!) can be transported from Vienna or Berlin and reproduced almost note for note in Chicago, and then some. Unlike that city's golden period of house music a la Marshall Jefferson and Frankie Knuckles in their countless anonymous disguises, this is music to submit rather than dance to. Insect noises are much more attractive recorded rather than live.