Augustus Pablo Dub, Reggae & Roots from the Melodica King
Both the sourcing and selection of this new compilation are impeccable - as one might expect from that Howard Hughes of reggae fans, Mr.Ian McCann, who also provides the erudite sleevenotes. Twenty one tracks in all, mostly derived from original mid-seventies seven inch releases on Pablo's own Rockers imprint, cleaned to a spanking clarity for this officially sanctioned reissue. There are three guaranteed big sellers in the roots reggae market - Scratch, Tubby and Pablo - and all are represented here with Pablo using both producers' studios for either recording or mixdown facilities. Indeed the deep chanting track "Ethiopia Dub" has the involvement of the entire "holy trinity". Four key vocals, from Jacob Miller, Bongo Pat, Norris Reid and Tetrack, are scattered amongst the prime instrumental dubs which Pablo claimed as his trademark sound and together make up an essential purchase both for newcomers and diehard fans alike.
Banned-X Songs an' Trax
If the music on this album had emerged in the late seventies or early eighties then it would have been dismissed without too much consideration as far too lightweight an offering for serious reggae buffs, and of course mainstream dance music still meant girls dancing around handbags down at the Golden Palms with males forever circling for the kill. An increasingly sophisticated approach from a dubwize angle now guarantees an advance on credibility which in turn demands heightened critical faculties to sort the dub from the drab. On the plus side this album possesses enough deep bass and invention - as well as irresistible Troutmanesque vocoder interludes - for any studious dancefloor selector to utilise in an eclectic set. On the downside bringing together x amount of global inputs can tend to confusion rather than fusion. Produced by Frankfurt DJ Gabriel le Mar.
The Congos Heart of the Congos
BLOOD & FIRE/SIMPLY VINYL SVLP247
Max Romeo Open the Iron Gate 1973-77
BLOOD & FIRE/SIMPLY VINYL SVLP250
Since its original re-release "Heart of the Congos" has sold in excess of sixty thousand copies worldwide and most of those were to committed reggae fans who knew that if this was not the best reggae album ever then it was definitely in the top two! The album was one of the contributory reasons for Lee Perry's split from Island records as it was rejected by the label on its completion, remaining as a Jamaican only release until its licensing for issue on the Beat's Go-Feet label in the early eighties. Justice now prevails as a deal between Blood & Fire and Simply Vinyl brings the set to heavyweight virgin vinyl. The tracks constituting this album mark the highpoint of Lee Perry's Black Ark creativity. These are truly sublime vocal performances from the Congos, all on a set of heavyweight roots tunes as strong as any of the contemporary offerings from Burning Spear and the Diamonds. Potential students of Scratch's baffling studio techniques are left hapless, helpless and in wonder at his 4-track manipulation of the Echoplex reverb unit and Muton phaser so magically displayed on his finest ever dub "Noah Sugar Pan". Stunning!
Max Romeo is undoubtedly best known for his "War ina Babylon", another Scratch classic but this one did see the light of day on Island. The collection both pre and post dates that classic set. Most of the tunes based on his "Revelation Time" and "Reconstruction" albums. Although the critical evaluation of his work was unfairly impacted over time by heights of "War ina Babylon", recent reissue programmes have helped to refocus on the true quality of his output. His vocal style is personal and his delivery is much more closely mic'ed than many of his contemporaries, resulting in an intimate sound and inevitably relaxed dubs - best captured on the 12" mix of "Melt Away".
Dry & Heavy King Jammy Meets Dry & Heavy in the Jaws of the Tiger
BEAT RECORDS BRC30
The European summer shows of Dry & Heavy, dubwize offshoots of Japan's Audio Active, were a big surprise to many. Not only can this band dub it up big style but their stage show carries an energy that can be alien to the newer reggae/dub acts. But the biggest surprise is how the band managed to elicit the regal presence of the Jammster who is not only tempted out to play but also dub it in the style in which he was apprenticed by his master the late Tubbster. Dusting off those classic effects which were trademarks of his work for Tubby, King Jammy takes a selection of tracks from Dry & Heavy's first two set for Green Tea and severely applies the Heineken in a fashion not seen for almost twenty years. The band are back for dates in the UK in November.
Dub Trees Nature Never Did Betray the Heart that Loved Her
LIQUID SOUNDS DESIGN BFLCD42
Not so much Youth's "dub project" as much as something he needed to work back into his system. For a musician/producer who could become an easy casualty of his own success, this album revisits previous obsessions, inspirations and the kind of energy that is all too often left behind. Remember the bass player for Killing Joke was cutting confrontational dub versions in the face of the New Romantics. Any jibes about his association with Sir Paul can be countered by recalling McCartney's visits to the Black Ark. Although this is a heavy bass-driven affair, it is more dub to the head rather than the feet in classic early-Orb style - with the exception of the heavily head-nodding "Concrete Tourist" a chugging machine-like rhythm of enormous proportions. In turn cinematic and episodic, all house inflections are wisely avoided, Ringo is sampled and Youth manages to bring it all back home - the title is autobiographical.
Love Grocer Rocking with the Love Grocer
Various DubHead Soundclash Series Session Two
Where there's dub there's brass - or so the old adage should go. One of the joys of seventies dub was the wonderfully cultured brass sections, made up largely of jazzmen, many tutored through Alpha Boys School, who just happened to be there when reggae broke and were key to its development but just as easily, and happily, could have dealt with any genre. It's a joy to check this new set featuring the talents of the horn duo Chris Petter and David Fulwood aka the Crispy Horns Brass Section but here mutating into the seductive Love Grocer! The album opens with a track entitled "A Little Rain Must Fall" followed by its dub version, the sound of the horns evokes the vision of a long-gone Boys Brigade brass section lost on the streets of a northern town on a rainy Sunday morning. A magical feeling, not unlike hearing the brass on Burning Spear's "Door Peep" for the first time. It's a live feel the whole way through and with the addition of congas and bongos in the mix there's a couple of instant rare grooves ripe for discovery.
Love Grocer also appear on the second in DubHead's soundclash series, offering up two tracks, as do Mad Professor, Nick Manasseh, Zion Train, Urban Dub and Vibronics. Half of the mixes are dubplate style and exclusive to the release and the other half are previews of forthcoming albums from the artists. Heaviest outfit are Leicester's Vibronics who are gaining a reputation for punching their weight live. Manasseh's track features the ethereal voice of the late Devon Russell, one of reggae greatest vocal stylists. Whilst Mad Professor uses some of Scratch's vampire rhythms as motifs within "Bitch Licks", Zion train thankfully avoid any temptations to house it up on their rootical selections. Urban Dub have a debut set due shortly on the label.
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 worst. Advice here is too look out for any straight reissues of that classic set and hold for what volume six in the series may bring - "Dubbing to the Max".
Muslimgauze The Inspirational Sounds of Muslimgauze
UNIVERSAL EGG WWCD031
The Tassilli Players An Atlas of World Dub
UNIVERSAL EGG WWCD033
Although the work of Bryn "Muslimgauze" Jones was no stranger to the pages of this magazine there's still people out there who have still not submitted to the experience. They must be persuaded. The Zion Train boys were planning this K-Tel style marketing wheeze with Bryn prior to his untimely death and, together with the forthcoming Suns of Arqa remix album, the audience for his music should continue to expand. I know that although this is a grim irony Bryn would not object. In the late eighties the boy from Swinton I used to discuss why he was producing all this music that nobody in the UK bought, let alone listened to. All sourced from Staalplaat the music is at once brutal and beautiful and a good place to throw the first dice on the Muslimgauze board.
Tassilli Players are Dave Hake and who happens to be around when Dave's doing a new album. This is his fourth in a themed series which have so far run though sport, herb and space. This time he's joining up the global dub dots, paying tribute to what has become an international network of dub disciples. As expected from the home of Zion Train this is all speedy, multi-layered stuff, and when they come back home to Wales for the final track it's a Wibbly Wobbly classic with what sounds like a washing machine in its spin cycle for the finale - a draining experience on headphones.
Peter Tosh Arise Black Man
Peter Tosh Live at the One Love Peace Concert
JAD RECORDS JAD1009
The history of the One Love Peace Concert held in Kingston on Saturday, April 23 1978, has been forever captured by the image of Jah Bob joining the hands of the uncomfortable political rivals Seaga and Manley in a gesture of enforced reconciliation. Here's the real story. Peter Tosh's revolutionary set included incendiary, confrontational speeches delivered in a no-sell out style before versions of "Burial", "Equal Rights", "Legalise It" and "Get Up Stand Up" respectively. Obviously delivered in his native patois, there's a translation in the sleeves notes - its not needed, its an electric performance. Tosh's solo work is now well documented between releases on Sony and Heartbeat, the Trojan set covers some of the same ground but amongst the twenty five tracks there are obligatory rarities. Productions are from Tosh himself, plus Bunny Lee, Lee Perry and Joe Gibbs. Both these releases are essentially documents, the "Live" set is a must for any serious reggae or Wailers fan - some great samples in there too!