Dr.Alimantado Best Dressed Chicken In Town
Reissued as part of the celebrations of Greensleeves' twenty fifth anniversary in the most capricious and shifting of modern musics, this album was their debut release and amazingly remains their most popular album, even though relative newcomers Mr.Vegas and Red Rat have experienced better sales. Everything about this album is totally correct, from Tado's zipperless cut-off grey flannels on the front cover, the way the mix and match of producers and studios comes together almost as a concept album and more than anything, twenty five years ago this set captured the era as much as anything from the Pistols or the Clash and still shocks and delights today. Its almost churlish to mention a single track but for the lover of rare groove separating out the Upsetter engineered "I Am the Greatest Says Mohammed Ali" will guarantee a status of inalienable cool amongst the musical elite. This will always remain Greensleeves' number one album.
Pablo Black Push Pull/Version
STUDIO 1 7" VINYL SOS1007
Pablo Black High Locks/Soul Locks
STUDIO 1 7" VINYL SOS1008
Mysteriously appearing as if from nowhere these two ultra deep Studio One pieces have been cut to deliver maximum bass from below and percussion crisp enough to snap your neck. The labels look kosher on first glance but on closer examination the design and vinyl are both too clean to be JA pressings and are more likely to be via the UK Peckings connection. The keyboard maestro Pablo, sometimes Pablove, Black exercises his skills on two Burning Spear tunes, first up is a take on "Swell Headed" which can also be found in yet another version as "Dread Head" on his album "Mr.Music - Originally!". "High Locks" is a melodica cut on Spear's "Foggy Road" whilst "Soul Locks" versions the Gladiators' "Beautiful Locks". Watch out for off-centre pressing which necessitates skilful hand eye co-ordination around the spindle of the turntable as the trusty record centre is rendered useless.
Barry Brown Release the Chains
ROCKERS 10" VINYL ROCKERS001
One of Augustus Pablo's most driving and relentless rhythms as producer is Asher & Trimble's awesome rasta plaint "Humble Yourself". Seventies roots vocalist Barry Brown croons more righteous prayer over the same rhythm with a drum and bass dub to follow which leaves the rhythm naked, serious, imperious - a stone classic. The flip holds more lightweight fare with Spliffy Dan's "Dreadlocks Preaching Love" and its more studious dub "Thunder if it Rains" from Rockers All Roots. All this means the possession of this 10" is a must for any Pablo fan.
Tony Brevitt & the Israelites Starlight
MOTION RECORDS 10" VINYL FAST10EP07
The riff and rhythm on this tune are better known from producer/arranger Jimmy Radway's "Black Cinderella". Here its creatively sunk in a welter of reggae rare groove percussion on the version by the Skatalites "Herb Man Dub" the jewel from the label's "King Tubby Meets the Skatalites" set. On the flip the work out on the Black Ark rhythm gets wilder and deeper as Tubby takes it back home to execute the remix in his most funky fashion with Tommy McCook's sax and Pablo's clavinet dominating the respective chops on "Sealing Dub" and "Starlight Version". This vinyl release should not be hard to find but will sell fast as one of the most desirable reissues of the year.
Bush Chemists Dub Fire Blazing
In their nine year history Bush Chemists have, surprisingly, released only three full length albums. Their now legendary modern dub classic from 1995 `Light Up Your Spliff' is now an instantly recognisable anthem still played out to almighty response by Shaka, Aba Shanti and other sound systems world-wide. `Dub Fire Blazing' follows 99's "Light up Your Chalice" as the final chapter of their tokers' trilogy. From the opening militant steppers dub of `This Sound' through to the Pabloesque `Blowing for His Majesty' Dougie Wardrop demonstrates why he remains the most in demand roots producer in the UK. Blending live musicianship with digital technology the rhythms are underpinned by solid, driving basslines interspersed with dubbed pianos, melodica and horns. As expected Rasta, reality and weed dominate the lyrics from singers and deejays Ras Imru Asher, Culture Freeman, Singer Blue and Kenny Knotts. This time out though the overall sound is more of a reflection of the sounds coming from Jamaica rather than the more abstract variety of UK home grown new roots. Wardrop gets classier by release by keeping his more hardcore tendencies for his alternate incarnations such as Hydroponics.
Jah Wally Stars Frelimo/Mozambique
ADDIS ABABA 7" VINYL ALC3123
Jah Wally Stars Angella Davis/Nelson Mandella
NEW FLOWER 7" VINYL ALC3125
Yet more desirable vinyl with the reappearance of several sides on the Addis Ababa and New Flower labels both of which last saw the light in the late seventies and are now reissued into a newly appreciative climate. Little, in fact nothing, is know about the identity of the Jah Wally Stars but these two pieces of horns driven roots instrumentals and dubs need to be secured in the collections of any self-respecting fan of the genre. Also around is Earl Zero's "Righteous Works" and Rising Son's "Jah Jah Robe" both of which are deeply committed rasta hymnals with vintage dubs on the flip.
Joseph Cotton 100% Pure Cotton
PROUD OF THAT RECORDS POT0006
A peculiar collection of tunes from the man sometime known as Jah Walton which must be a mix of old and new with styles moving from original DJ sides, through chants over dubplates to lyrical excursions of the more skittish dancehall biddelybong variety. Recommended here though for two reasons, the first being the hidden track, the Harry Mudie produced discomix monster "Stand in my Yard and Praise God" - if you cannot find it elsewhere then get it here. Secondly the versions to Dillinger's "Ragnampaiza" here recast as "Vegetable Dish" and followed by Bongo Herman's "China Visit" - obviously aware of the amazing variety of ital greens to be located in Sichuan Province.
The Love Grocer A Little Rain Must Fall
DUBHEAD 10" VINYL DBHDS004
Last year's "Rocking with the Love Grocer" was one of this column's top albums, particularly gratifying as the production was new, from the UK and by Chris Petter and Dave Fulwood who together also make up the Crispy Horns. In fact that album sounds better and better over time and its most popular track has been remixed for this 10" release with an added chant from the band's DJ associate Cheshire Cat. The effect of the yearning horns line, which persists through the whole of the discomix, is undiminished over time. and Cheshire Cat chats through into the version where the bass is seriously cranked up to a thunderous roll.
Augustus Pablo Original Rockers
Another of the first batch of twenty five reissues from the premier British reggae label, this collection of Pablo tunes was one of the first compilations to be issued of the artists productions and remains one of the best. At the time it came out it was only looking back a few years to the period between 1972 and 1975 when Pablo came to prominence quickly establishing both his spiritual and musical credentials. Of all Jamaican artists Pablo is perhaps the most imitated, or more correctly he is the musician which others most commonly attempt to imitate mistaking the simplicity of the music with casual execution. Every tune here has now rightly attained classic status and the reissue contains an alternate mix on "King Tubby's Dub Song" and a dub version to Dillinger's "Brace A Boy".
Various Select Cuts From Blood & Fire Chapter Two
SELECT CUTS -2002
Chapter One of this now series is close to racking up sales of twenty thousand units. As the follow up calls up such well-known volunteers as Leftfield, Apollo 440, Zion Train and Jah Wobble to pay homage to some of the reggae classics reissued by Blood and Fire then it too is likely to end up shifting mega units, but it's the lesser known or unexpected names who shine on this collection. Kid Loco and Mr.Scruff wisely select tracks to serve their own idiosyncrasies and it pays off as Morwell & King Tubby's "Morpheus Special" and Glen Brown & King Tubby's "Father for the Living" both get the splintered beat treatment. In the absence of the original multitracks the tunes are not so much remixed as sampled, reconstructed and recycled, restricting choice but testing invention. But I can't see another chapter coming forward less Madonna adopts dub to be her next thing.
Various Darker Than Blue: Soul From Jamdown 1973 - 1977
BLOOD AND FIRE BAFCD036
From the drum roll that takes us into "Ghetto Funk" by The Boris Gardiner Happening we know we are on a ride. The links between the musics of urban black America and the island of Jamaica are too often taken for granted with compilers' references to all the cheesy easy shots we know and are tired of. This set mines the same depths as the recent Studio 1 collection from Soul Jazz but strikes different ores as the work of more than one producer is brought to surface. Ken Boothe, John Holt, Alton Ellis, Freddie McGregor plus a bunch of other stellar vocalists ache, sigh, croon and testify through the full gamut of soul's emotion. Unreservedly recommended of course, but if you have time and inclination seek out the discomix to Sly & Robbie's version of the Tamlin's Randy Newman cover "Baltimore" as its prolongs the ecstasy to a more satisfactory length. Also worth searching for is a version of Curtis Mayfield's title tune on High Times by the late Devon Russell - Jamaica's greatest soul singer - with an irresistible dub overseen by Chinna Smith entitled "Stand in Your Glory".
Mutabaruka Check It!
A welcome re-release for the dub poet's 1982 debut album which has only been available sporadically over the intervening years. Along with the late Michael Smith, the most radical of all Jamaica's home-grown dub poets Mutabaruka's finest work is gathered here on this set - the core of which is a collection of his 7" vinyl sides cut for Earl "Chinna" Smith's High Times label. Utilising a vicious humour within his fierce railings against stupidity, hypocrisy and all the attributes of the established order, rather than lessening the force of his chants his relaxed delivery often gave a subtle focus to his message. Despite some of the references assuming an historical glaze most of the material still carries a contemporary feel, none more so than his classic "Everytime A Ear de Soun' " with its trademark gunshot opening, and also the great "Butta Pan Kulcha" and the reality lovers tune "Hard Time Loving" whose intro replays a cheesy tongue-in-cheek "Love is Blue".
De Facto Megaton Shotblast
GOLD STANDARD LABORATORIES GSL45CD
Dub hits Long Beach CA by way of El Paso TX in the form of De Facto, half of whom are made up by At the Drive In's Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez. The CD box is stamped up as "experimental dub/latin" and to avoid being tempted to believe these guys inhabit any definition coincidental with Cachaito I think its best to cast this new sub-genre as possessing extremely wide dimensions. For whereas the Cuban bass maestro stretches and meshes the musical boundaries coming from twin classic traditions, when De Facto say experimental they actually mean experimental. It follows that half the set works and half the tracks are meandering live jams - albeit with the odd mariachi style brass for which I always fall. There's enough promise here for this side project to be taken down a more considered route.
Various Bushy Bushy - Greensleeves Rhythm Album #15
It only seems a blink of an eye ago that Greensleeves pulled back from the regular issue of 7" pre-release singles and instead committed to a series of "rhythm albums". Such is the tidal wave of vinyl sweeping out unabated from Jamaican studios that the label has been putting out these sets almost on a monthly basis. Rhythms get their names not necessarily from the original version but more commonly the cut that dominates the dancefloor. So although Bobo Dread Sizzla has title, "Sting History 2000" from Merciless is the champion tune among the twenty contained here. A full share of x-rated innuendo demands the parental sticker, but the rhythm is more hardcore than the lyrics.