Horace Andy Horace Andy's Dub Box - Rare Dubs 1973 - 1976
JAMAICAN RECORDINGS JRCD007
Another in the dub series from this label that has the effect of seriously unnerving reggae buffs as the sourcing of many of the tracks seems to be unclear other than much of the material must have the blessing of Bunny 'Striker' Lee. So this set has many of the rhythms that underpin Horace Andy's most celebrated tunes such as his remake of his Studio One hit Skylarking, Zion Gate, Money Money, Serious Thing and You are My Angel, but the mixes are not Tubby's and there are no credits to identify the remix engineer. Even with this pervading sense of slight unease dubs like the great horns cut to Tony Orlando's cheesy early 60's ballad Bless You and Horace's take on the Heptone's My Guiding Star are worthy of transfer to a deep 10" dubplate. There's also a Harry J dub set around on the same label that's worth a check and another release on Horace, a vocal & dub double album The King Tubby Tapes which again has more of a relationship to Tubby's studio than it does to the mind and fingers of the master.
Atom ™/Small Rocks/The Rip Off Artist Dub Tribunl
Every now and again an album arrives unannounced on your deck and then proceeds to smack you right between the eyes with the accuracy and force of a freshly-metalled giant daidenjin fist - this is one of those albums. Released out of Redondo Beach in California, this new label is the baby of Matt Haines aka The Rip-Off Artist. And I assume the concept for this debut is down to him too - which is that three artists agree on a style of music they are not known for and then create three tracks in that style. Small Rocks is, of course, Matt Wand, one half of Stock, Hausen and Walkman. His opener, A Lung Full of Woofer Gas, has him rattling the sounds around in a big aluminium bucket with a rubber bottom, chopping up the result into what sounds like dub by numbers created by aliens. Remarkably the following track, Haines' Hippopocracy, seems like he used exactly the same method to come up with a uniquely different result. In fact the sound texture only changes with the arrival of Atom™, aka Uwe Schmidt of Senor Coconut and LB with Burnt Friedmann, with Violence in .. which has a texture that now can be confidently described as "Germanic". It sounds fun and it is fun - it's an Ealing Comedy equivalent for dubelectronica!
Dry & Heavy Dub Creation
BEAT RECORDS BRC56
A Japanese only release for the dub companion to the band's 'From Creation', released in the UK earlier this year as 'More Creation' pulling a selection of the vocals and dubs together. Of the three this is the essential set as engineer Uchida takes full command of the desk, hastening and adorning the original tracks' desquamatory qualities with the deft touch and confident flourishes of a dubmaster at the height of his power. Whereas the original cover of Riders on the Storm could be taken as a throwaway, here its transformed into a nyabinghi jazzer with loops of wah wah on top, a slow groove that ends in submission. The rest is just as seductive, even the lo-quality packaging get the thumbs up as a stylistic nod to the way it used to be.
Cedric 'Im Brooks Lamb's Bread Collie/Version
HONEST JON'S RECORDS 12" VINYL ONLY
Like many other great Jamaican jazz-based players who came to prominence in the 60's, Cedric 'Im Brooks was a musical graduate from the Alpha Catholic School for boys. In the early seventies, after cutting tunes with trumpeter Dave Madden, he linked up with Count Ossie and together they combined hand drummers and brass to form the Mystical Revelation of Rastafari, recording the foundation Grounation album. He went on to cut tunes as Cedric and the Divine Light including The Light of Saba and The Light of Saba in Reggae. It is these albums that Honest Jon's are using to source a soon come album and this 12" single is a taster. It will come as no surprise to existing admirers of Cedric Brooks' work, especially his Studio One album 'Im Flash Forward, that he was once offered the opportunity to join Sun Ra's collective. On the point of doing so he returned to Jamaica instead to fulfil some outstanding commitments. Lambs' Bread Collie is beautifully deep devotional roots music of the highest quality and in this vinyl format will soon be scarce on the ground - as will the 12" single released by Soul Jazz from their top notch Studio One instrumentals album, Cedric's Mun-dun-go.
Lee 'Scratch' Perry Wonderman Years
Just as the taxonomy of Upsetterdom seems near completion we find another aggregation questions the true horizon. This double set from Trojan (who else?) collects forty-nine sides from the producer's pre-Black Ark label, Justice League. Mostly recorded and mixed at Dynamic', Randy's and Tubby's there's enough here to entice the addict and recommend to the novice. Certainly the proto-dubfunk of Tipper Special with the fat honk of a split reed baritone sax, ghostly sirens and tape rewinds, all within a darkly thudding Tubby mix was a newly discovered joy for me. As was Chenley Duffus' immaculate version of Jesse Belvin's Goodnight My Love delivered on a shuddering Tubby's rhythm, the whole thing queuing up for admission to a David Lynch soundtrack. Wesley Gems' Whiplash is strange, even for Scratch's standards, I had to listen to the lyrics three times before I believed what I was hearing. Jungle Lion and its version Freak Out Skank are still timeless and astounding after continual plays. Good to see old 5time reggae champion Chris Lane, accompanied by Scratch's discographer Jeremy Collingwood, on a joint outing for the informative sleeve notes. The artwork is a DC/Marvel Comics style pastiche with Scratch portrayed as the superhero he has always imagined himself to be, Jack Kirby even gets a credit!
Prince Alla & Junior Ross I Can Hear the Children Sing 1975 - 1978
BLOOD & FIRE BAFCD040
In the middle to late 70's the flow of reggae music was such that it was inevitable much worthy material would slip by relatively unnoticed except to the most dedicated fans. Even more likely was that much of this lost music would be in a deeper, rootsier vein than the material being licensed and championed at the time by major labels. Always recognised as a great roots album by hardcore devotees, Prince Alla's Heaven Is My Roof album, re-upholstered with four extended dub versions, now receives the full Blood & Fire treatment. Wisely released as a double set together with a collection of contemporary, and equally conscious tunes from Junior Ross and the Spears that were only released in album form as Babylon Fall in 1992. Producer/DJ Tappa Zukie takes the credits with the tunes being cut at Channel One and the Black Ark with a full team out for mixing duties, Scientist, Jammy, Phillip Smart and Tubbs himself at his own studio. Alla's CD opens with the mighty horns driven Bosrah setting the standard for a further ten songs delivered in passionately committed style by Prince Alla. The Junior Ross tunes, although lighter, are unswerving in their dedication to the usual concerns of the righteous rastaman and the eight extended mixes, some dub and some with Tappa Zukie as DJ, toughen up the experience. Exemplary stuff from Blood and Fire.
Seed New Dubby Conquerors
DOWNBEAT/WEA 8573 87840-2
This album actually dates from last year but has not been released outside of Germany. Seeed are a multi-national outfit who have managed to develop into a tough modern reggae outfit, both live and in the studio, whilst avoiding all the usual pitfalls associated with anything musically "euro", pop oriented, retro, unselfconsciously stupid and generally laughable. This, their debut, is a mix of conscious roots and dancehall styles, with the standout track Dickies B with Black Kappa having a little hip hop thrown in. TO demonstrate their seriousness this year their single Waterpumpee had Anthony B guesting. A new Seeed rhythm Boggy Ground will be released in February 2003 featuring Elephant Man, Ward 21, Ce'cile and Sean Paul, with the next album to follow in April.
Various A Place Called Africa - Songs of the Lost Tribe
With more angles than a billiards championship, Trojan offer up yet another 'concept' album. The relationship of Jamaican musical generations of the 60s and 70s to Africa was brought into sharper focus at home by the increasing alienation of Rastafarianism and the influence from abroad of the growing black power movements in the States. A shame then that this double album, despite the inclusion of some rare and worthy tunes, does not accompany the music with a more insightful view of how all this yearning for the motherland dissipated over time. As such the concept refrains risking analysis, settling for a selection of tunes with either 'Africa' in the title or references to repatriation or longing for a better life elsewhere. Despite this cop out its an intriguing run through and any album that features Land of Love, a prime Black Ark production from the Sons of Light, has got to have something going for it.
LAW & AUDER EMOTE2002-10-13
V-Neck is Doug Martin and Martin Churcher who have been creating their own dub worlds for the past ten years or so. This follow-up to their debut album, Dub Fiction, is a much darker affair than any of their previous work. Their single, The Fictitious, was remixed by Witchman and also Muslimgauze, and it's the Swinton influence, which is detectably at work here. The centrepiece of 'Millipede' is the filmic Naked Form, which for all the world sounds as if John Hassell met Arcane Device on the sound stage of Apocalypse Now! - and was then remixed by Scientist on Prozac, a sprawling gamelan monster of a track with a heavy drone extending its the full eight minutes, before a fade out into the silent green. It's a relentlessly downbeat affair that nevertheless has its moments of twisted humour and its best yet from V-Neck, although not likely to generate many offers of r'n'b remixes.
Desmond Williams Delights of the Garden
EIGHTEENTH STREET LOUNGE MUSIC ESL051
Engineer Desmond Williams was plucked from the studio of Scientist by Thievery Corporation's Eric Hilton and Rob Garza and transplanted into their 18th Street Lounge set up to helm production duties. Inspired by the lusher landscapes of later Kurosawa and the rhythms of post-Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, Williams is a seamless operator along the interfaces of dub, bossa nova, afro-beat and electronica. Radio samples from a time when sound ruled and snatches of looped brass and keyboard trademark Williams' style, hardly challenging - but that the ESL signature, warm downtempo abstractions that stop well short of fracturing the fragility of the comfortably swooning world they create.