STUDIO ONE PRESENTS
COXSONE (NO CATALOGUE NUMBER)
STUDIO ONE PSLP004
Although this Burning Spear debut bears the credit 'produced by Clement Dodd', no doubt Winston Rodney would claim otherwise. Only recently he nixed a deal between Coxsone and Soul Jazz for a 'best of' collection, so it looks like the Brentford Road Don strikes back with the matrixless reissue of this together with the equally impressive follow-up 'Rocking Time'. But neither are straight reissues and both come with different mixes to the original and more remarkably on "Presents', totally unheralded, there suddenly appears a discomix version of Spear's, and maybe reggae's, supreme tune - the atmospheric and timeless 'Door Peep (Shall Not Enter)', replete with a dub version that we are hearing for the first time. 1969 saw Spear's first venture into the studio and 'Door Peep' was included in his first session. The story of its genesis has never been told, but it is indisputable that the finished product is otherworldly, hypnotic, truly transcendent and can be counted amongst the greatest recordings of the last century by any definition. And the story does not stop there. The plot thickens with Peckings Shepherd's Bush shop issuing a Prince Jazzbo Studio One album with the DJ version to 'Door Peep' entitled 'Imperial I', but this is a different mix to the take that appeared about ten years ago on the now unavailable 'Choice of Version' set! Just be grateful.
THE ROOTS OF DUB & DUB FROM THE ROOTS
BALMAGIE JAM ROCK
The German label Moll-Selekta has slowly been building its reputation with a release programme featuring good to excellent seventies roots reggae, but here the ante is severely upped with the unleashing of two stone monsters from numero uno dubmeister King Tubby. Both from unimpeachable sources, these two sets crashed down the walls that bound reggae within its perceived narrow creative confines. Although Tubbs had earlier shaken JA's musical foundations with U Roy MC'ing his Home Town Hi Fi sound system, and signalled his sonic intentions in tandem with Scratch on the awesome "Blackboard Jungle", it was the 'roots' albums that broke through the sales barrier and gave dub both the critical rep and the standards by which to measure the new genre.
Marking the first and best period of collaboration with producer Bunny Lee, the rhythms brought to Drumillie Road for a fresh mix from Tubbs were the same rhythms that are still being versioned today and played out in dances across the globe. John Holt's 'A Love I Can Feel' and 'Man Next Door', Cornell Campbell's 'Queen of the Minstrel', Johnny Clarke's 'Rock With Me' all line up for the treatment with Tubby jazzing live on the desk, whacking the spring reverb unit, echoing test tones, dropping channels in and out of the mix. Witness the acid into to 'Invasion' and the totally slack joy of 'East of Arrows Hi-Fi'. Comes top of the pile along with '.Meets Rockers Uptown', the aforementioned 'Blackboard Jungle' and his work with Yabby You and Harry Mudie.
Not exactly languishing at the bottom of the heap but certainly one to check out first is 'Balmagie Rock', the so called lost tracks discovered lying around in Roy Cousins' loft in Liverpool, Garston. Having been around to Roy's old shop a couple of times this is entirely believable but in being cleaned up by Geoff 'The Lad' Davies of Probe Plus Records, home to Half Man Half Biscuit, the tracks have undergone some unusual and, frankly, amazing mutations. It's claimed that the some of the tapes date from 1966, that may be the date of the tape manufacture but its contents are clearly from much later. All the tunes are apparently written by Roy, but the first tune is a take on Derrick Harriott's 'The Loser' that has the wildly psychedelic DJ I Roy imprisoned within! Certainly Roy had dealings with Tubby and even recorded his brother, Lloyd Ruddock, on a fine roots tune 'Genuine Way' with a cracking dub on the flip. If these are Tubby's mixes, which sounds likely, it would be preferable if they were not 'cleaned up' and some effort were spent instead on assigning due provenance. Check it out.
MUSICAL BRAIN FOOD
SPEEDSTAR INTERNATIONAL VICL-61099
Only in Japan! I am afraid to go to Tokyo just in case I realise I have not taken music seriously enough for the past forty years. Little Tempo were recent guests at Lee 'Scratch' Perry's MeltUp Festival where they played in a free entry sideshow, likely introduced to the bash by friends of the East, Asian Dub Foundation. I myself would certainly pay to see this band, and distance travel too. The title 'Musical Brain Food' is no idle boast for this album is so rich and free with its sonic connections that at times the effect is sweetly dizzying. 'Gagarin Goes to Jamaica' is as funky as Kingston ever got. 'Future Observer', despite the title, seems to quote Yabby You. The lowest common denominator is Martin Denny meets Sound Dimension in a hi-tech Wonderland, an altogether uplifting downbeat experience with steel pans, lap steel, flutes and kette and bass drums washing the whole thing with tangible warmth and colour. Engineered by Uchida in Japan and mastered by Metcalfe in London this has all the right dubtastic backroom credentials. But in no way can this be classed as dub, more like dub attitude - but there is dub version on the way with their next release later in the year 'Fireblender'. A remarkable debut.
MAN DATA SOUND
HYTCH-HYKE LIFT 086
Following 'Ideo-Rythmon' ('The Harmonics of Drumming') and 'Laspi" ('Mud'), 'Dubient' is the third release of the Athens based, that's Athens, Greece, not Georgia, sound production unit of Panos "Tsiko" Katsikiotis on drums and Elias Tsangaris on bass who have taken their current name from cult 80s Greek band Alla Mandata. Although the nearest reference may be Laswell's 'Western Lands' this album has the unmistakable stamp of Greece throughout even without the use of massed bouzoukis. At times drawing on afro-funk and then the richness of traditional folk music there is an unconscious and effortless fusion at work, probably due to the fact that these guys have been working together on projects since the early eighties. This ease is best evidenced on the final track, the beautiful and beatless 'Kleon-D drawn out by bowed guitar. The music is recorded at a home studio in the Psyrri area of Athens, a kind of downtown city equivalent of Greenwich Village or London's Soho in the sixties. More than just a worthy addition to the growing catalogue of global dub mutations this excellent album deserves to be taken on its own merits.
PLAY PLAY 006CD/LP
Japan's fascination with dubwise experiment finds an electro funk filter in the shape of Quante Jubila. Taking their name from a Prince Far I tune cut for On U sound, Quante Jubila takes form in collaboration between the Play label A&R director Young Jeff o.k. Jeff Hammond and Takuya Matsumoto who joined forces in 1998 after meeting in a Tokyo club. Not surprising then that this marriage of digital and analogue occurs in Tokyo where there thirsty exploration does not negate a genuine appreciation of the dynamics that underpinned and propelled dub. J. Saul Kane is due to remix the 'Pax Americana' track, and its Depth Charge that's the nearest equivalent with a crunching but spacey mix of vicious beats with brittle percussion. Ex Dry & Heavy guitarist Keiichi Rikitake breaks out the wah wah and roasts the old chestnut 'Resurrection Shuffle' that builds up layers in a fashion worthy of prog rock at its polytechnic best.
URBAN DUB featuring FAIRSHARE UNITY SOUND
URBAN DUB featuring FAIRSHARE UNITY SOUND
DUBHEAD DBHD 032CD/LP
Urban Dub and Fairshare Unity Sound have built up strong individual live reputations on the European nu roots and dub circuit, finally playing together at the Concorde 2 in Brighton last year leading to this collaboration. Compared to Urban Dub's earlier workmanlike effort this release turns out to be a sparkling set of energetic nu roots with initial copies including a bonus CD of remixes, rarities and sound system exclusives that are likely to prove more popular than the main album. The presence of Terry Edwards on trumpet and other brass proves an inspiration as in reggae there really is no substitute for the real things, so much of a presence that the bonus includes a track 'Smarty Especially Recorded Especially for Terry', a version of the original 'Smart Monkey' top tune from their debut. There's a whole bunch of guest vocalists in addition to mainstays Roop and Hieronymous, amongst which Winston Fergus weighs in with an instant classic in the shape of the quasi d&b tune 'Bigfoot' whilst some uncredited samples add to the fun on 'Key to the Future'. This album deserves a lot wider audience that the usual dedicated nu roots crew.
JUMBIE - GREENSLEEVES RHYTHM ALBUM #43
HINDU STORM - RIDDIM RIDER VOL.9
JET STAR CRCD3101
If there's a dance that goes with the ghostly 'Jumbie' riddim then watch out, especially if it's a moko jumbie, a fifteen-foot stilt dancer that usually comes with a dwarf attached. 'Jumbie' is the progeny of Maximum Sounds producer Frenchie, a Frenchman operating in Kingston alongside Suku, the producer of Ward 21, and Paul "Wrongmove" Crosdale. Together they create a swinging Latin dancehall rhythm that attracts an "A" list of singers and DJs voicing the tracks, in fact all the usual suspects. Although its much more preferable to go out and select a couple of 7" pre-release singles with the prime cuts of the said rhythm, not all of us have Dub Vendor or Daddy Kool at the bottom of the street. 'Hindu Storm' is by far the strongest rhythm so far in the 'Riddim Rider' series, with its clear nod to the all-conquering Diwali it's a swirl of tablas and Bollywood sampling shuddering forward like a great garlanded pachyderm. Top tune here is Mr.Vegas' 'Chop Out De Grass' which comes with its own self-destructing dance moves. Be sure by the time you read this there's twenty more riddims trampled through customs and rampaging on the streets of London, New York and Miami.
RANKING MISS P PRESENTS SWEET HARMONY
Miss P started out in the early 80s with a DJ slot on her brother Lepke's London pirate radio station DBC (Dread Broadcasting Corporation) and has been involved promoting reggae one way or another ever since. Although Trojan's hegemony of major store reggae racks remains a constant irritant to reggae fans it would be churlish to ignore the appeal of the sweet fare offered up on this compilation. Assembling forty three tracks from in and around label's vaults, the definition sometimes becomes strained with group rather than vocal group performances - and how many more times will Tosh & the Wailers 'Brand New Second Hand' have to appear? But any album with Carlton & the Shoes' 'Better Days' starts with an advantage, and its difficult to spot any missing major 'names' without a strain. From ska through rock steady and into reggae and lovers rock, the Heptones, Abyssinians, Mighty Diamonds, Techniques, Gaylads, Culture, Meditations and Royals are all there.