Augustus Pablo This Is Augustus Pablo
ABOVE ROCK ARM2001
The late tooter's first album, dating back to 1974, is back on the streets again and worth a mention not only for the quality of the set but also as a marker - given the choice in the racks - that this is amongst the best music Pablo ever put out. Produced by Clive Chin and originally released on the Tropical label, this is a collection of instrumentals on which Pablo demonstrates his keyboard skills on piano, organ, clavinet as well as his beloved melodica. Recorded at Randy's, the mix and remix engineer is Errol.Thompson. Earlier rebel rock far east hit "Java" is included, and there are three certified stone classics in "Dub Organiser", "Dread Eye" and "Guiding Red". This album makes sense of all that follows in this musician's extraordinary catalogue.
Brenda Ray Dreamin'/Another Dream
WAMBESI 7" VINYL TWDV586
Brenda Ray will be familiar to observers of the Liverpool music scene over the years as part of the NAAFI organisation who dubbed it up consistently through the eighties, and also as Brenda of Brenda and the Beachballs' fame. Over the past few years, together with cohort the Minister of Noise, she has been aiding and abetting the Spanish Town postmaster and artist/producer Roy Cousins, once of the Royals, in his programme of remastering and reissuing selections from his Tamoki Wambesi imprint. This seven inch piece is purportedly pressed up in Jamaica, if so the vinyl and presser must have been imported as finished product has no pits or bumps at all. All the better for Brenda to exercise her love of the r'n'b genre, specifically its breathy doo-wop manifestations, in this seriously infectious cut which could translate easily into a leftfield dancehall favourite. Perversely the flip is not a dub of the vocal, but a different tune altogether.
The Bug vs The Rootsman feat. He-Man Killer/Version
RAZOR X 7" VINYL RZX01
Named after the radical flic featuring the late Peter Tosh this label, bearing the legend "Made in Babylon", sets high expectations. Kevin Martin, the half of Techno Animal that is the Bug has talked John Rootsman into liberating the vocals from the multitracks of selected DJ collaborations. First fruit of this intended rough treatment is He-Man's vocals on "Killer", already a track of spitting venom, which now comes notched with a gargle of gravel in 100% proof rum on top of a rhythm to which the word "beat" cannot be applied. A crunching, heaving brittle metal lurch of a thing, particularly on the version where a crippling distortion applied to the DJ brings a modicum of relief to the unrelenting sonic violence. Disturbing - a top tune!
Derrick Harriott Presents Scrub-A-Dub
CRYSTAL 12" VINYL DH445
The albums most often quoted as "classic early dub" are usually Keith Hudson's "Pick a Dub" and Herman Chin Loy's "Aquarius Dub". In the last few years both of these have become available once more after long absences. Also deserving of inclusion in this arcane category are the early instrumental dub albums by Derrick Harriott who was already a seasoned and successful artist, producer and businessman by the time the dub sound became predominant in the mid to late seventies.
Löbe Radiant Dub System
Frédéric Luneau has morphed through the stretched ambience of Micro:Mega via Webcam his solo dubby jazz project for Noise Museum and into this newer, more tekdubtastic, form as Löbe. It's a bass driven thing with no room for the hazy languor that occasionally graced his previous work. Once past the Clangers torture phase on the "Fugu" track, more dubby references begin appear on "Transline", and although "When Jupiter Aligns with Mars" sounds like a reference to "Hair" its more Hendrix vs. Scientist. Fred is still in experimental mode and almost there.
Lee Perry & Friends A Live Injection - Anthology 1968 to 1979
Back to Perryland, where, as always, all is not as it seems. Appearing more or less at the same time as the woeful "Jamaican E.T.", and on the same label, here are forty four succinctly stated reasons why the most prolific and profligate of Jamaican has a right to be adored. This anthology is part of the relaunch of the Trojan catalogue following its absorption into the indie empire that is the Castle organisation, with other double retrospective sets equally worthy of attention coming from Greg Isaacs, Ken Boothe, the Ethiopians and Toots & the Maytals. The Perry compilation runs material from 1969 - the height of Perry's popularity amongst the waning UK mod contingent - and 1979, by which time he had achieved even higher heights within the vibrating womb that was the Black Ark. It would be churlish to quibble over the selection on this set which is about as good as you are going to get minus early ska sides and some of the Island stuff - but when it comes down to it any album containing Carlton & the Shoes "Better Days" must be worth having. Excellent artwork and sleevenotes bodes well for the new regime at Trojan, for a beginners guide to Scratch start here.
Leroy Smart Mirror Mirror
FE-ME-TIME 7" VINYL FM15
Appearing in the shops a couple of years back "Keep Down the Pressure" was an excellent compilation of the work of producer Jimmy "Ivan" Radway. We were promised a dub set but this never appeared due to the usual money difficulties which plague reggae - not the fault of the compiler in this case. So to obtain the dubs on these tunes resort must be had to the collectors' market or the infrequent reissue programme of seven-inch singles, some of which can still be had. This one makes a welcome reappearance. The fearsome Leroy Smart was a vocalist of choice by Radway. When on "Mother Liza" he sang ". I love your daughter." , not for one moment was this ever considered to be in the metaphysical sense. As to be expected, here he does not enquire of but threatens the mirror on the wall, on what otherwise would be a regular cheesy tune. The dub, as with all Radway's dubs, is class A1 with superb chunky mix and classy brass action courtesy of
Tosca Different Tastes of Honey
G-STONE 4x12"VINYL -022
In true version to version fashion Ralf Dorfmeister and Ruper Huber, together Tosca, weigh in thirteen pieces of their "Honey" tune across eight sides of vinyl. After the bass driven mix from the Sofa Surfers' Markus Kienzl, where the source remains identifiable, the other remixers begin to take the track further out. Downbeat exponents Massi, Shelter Ave. and Azoia all have their base with Nylon Records in Portugal - apparently the new place to be. Faze Action scissor-kick the rhythm with rapid style Brasilia percussion, smooth out the vocal samples and drop in a bloc style breakbeat; whereas Bigga Bush, Glen Bush ex-Rockers Hi-Fi, creates a jagged r'n'b rare groove after a human beat box intro and later what sounds like a Big Youth sample for flavour. Top for effort though is Germany's Supatone a.k.a. Michael Baumann who has learned how to phase wah wah and percussion with an admirable restraint and creates enough space in the second of his dubs to let the a wandering mind do the rest. Dorfmeister obviously loves his dub and this is nudub the way it should be.
Various By Special Request
Eighteen tunes selected from the Treasure Isle vaults of Duke Reid by Heartbeat's Chris Wilson with a well judged mix of familiar and rare tunes. So, although by no means a "classic" collection, this turns out to be a good thing as there are far too many fairly shoddy products out on this particular producer which recycle the same old tracks - albeit great ones. Collectors and enthusiasts will perk up to find The Victors' "You Cant Stop Me" with its DJ variation by the mysterious Dynamic Man "Boss Boss", and there's a nice Justin Hinds tune "Time Pass By". Other appearances from Tommy McCook, U Roy, Dennis Alcapone, Ken Parker, John Holt and the Techniques means this release, like most from this label, can be purchased with confidence.
Various Flag Flown High - The Best of Bobby Digital's Roots Productions
MAXIMUM PRESSURE MPCD001
This new label is a joint venture between Pressure Sounds, On U Sound's sister label dedicated to the retrieval of classic reggae, and Frenchie's Maximum Sound imprint which up to now has majored in contemporary dancehall sounds issued on a 7" single format. First up is a set destined to become a modern classic compiling not only some of the best of Bobby "Digital" Dixon's productions for his own Digital B label, but also a clutch of unreleased cuts such as the startling opener from the late Garnett Silk "Mystic Chant" which utilises a loop from Jah Bob's "Natural Mystic" for its rhythm bed. No slackness to be found here of course, and for all Shabba Ranks' non-PC pedigree his "Heart Of A Lion", a paean to ghetto youth, is reggae at its most committed, powerful and compelling. Bobby Digital was a graduate from Prince Jammy's Waterhouse academy of sound and these tunes date from the decade following his departure from his mentor's studio in 1989. Amongst the eighteen tracks are contributions from Yami Bolo, Sizzla, Cocoa Tea, Morgan Heritage, Capleton and more. Uplifting.
Various The Groove Corporation Presents Remixes from the Elephant House
Birmingham meets Chicago in a dub remix showdown. Over the past few years Groove Corporation have been busy on the remix duties and here they partner with Guidance in a "Blood & Fire Select Cuts" style. Although some of the tracks look unlikely candidates, like how many times have we agreed its not a good idea to remix Marley & the Wailers unless you can travel back in time to the Black Ark and pull in a DJ from Tippertone Hi-Fi or do we really need another attempt at "Cocaine In My Brain", others work out well to rescue this concept. Specifically this works best with the less obvious source material like Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street" and Ennio Morricone's "Giocoso, Gioioso".
Various Ready When You Ready
SMUGG RECORDS GUMSCDXX007
As the revival focus is now moving from the roots to the digital era there is potential for the intervening dancehall period to be lost in the process of revision. Although DJ fare was, in the main, of the tedious the bong-diddly-bong-bong variety, dancehall brought a lot of new younger vocalists with attitude into the studio and helped revive the careers of those older singers who were prepared for the test. Smugg picks up a bunch of tunes from the Uptempo vaults of Sugar Minott and Steve King which all date from this "lost period", consisting mostly of cuts from top vocalists - Horace Andy, Freddie McKay, Barrington Levy, Junior Reid, Johnny Osbourne and Frankie Paul - but none surpasses the frankly bizarre opener from the late Tenor Saw "Golden Hen". A dub set is promised shortly with mixes from Tubby and Chemist - so this vocal becomes necessary for devotees of version.