BUTCH CASSIDY SOUND SYSTEM
HEAR WHAT I SAY E.P.
Only encountered in this column on compilations to date Glasgow’s Michael Hunter is Butch Cassidy Sound System and although the idea of a rerub on the Junior Byles’ classic Rasta confrontational hymn "Fade Away" might not automatically trigger multiple frissons this joint turns out as pure warm joy right from the one drop. Previously with outings under the unwise guise of ‘Pablo’ on the Good Looking and Guidance labels as well as his own Red Hook, this single prefaces the irresistibly titled album debut ‘Butches Brew’. As no other musicians are credited one can only assume a one-man effort, if so this is in the Twilight Circus league of modern dub excellence and there can be no higher recommendation. A beatless version of the title track seems obvious only after hearing it, but the jerkier beats of ‘Push Button’ have a more unfortunate feel of the increasingly oppressive new orthodoxy of wacky drum patterns.
DJ SPOOKY vs. TWILIGHT CIRCUS DUB SOUND SYSTEM
Ryan Moore comes to Spooky’s rescue and pulls him back from the dreadful abyss that was the Spookster’s dalliance with Scratch and the Mad Prof. in combination style launching into this more deeply cultural excursion. A couple of harmless doodles open up the set before the appearance of "Dust Storm on NGC 7023" clearly gone missing from soundtrack of the yet to be made 3-D version of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ and the serious business begins. Title track "Riddim Clash – Heavyweight Style" opens with a lyrical flute fluttering into ersatz gamelan before bursting into the teetering paranoia unheard since those early 80’s Tack>>Head 12" monsters, all thundering percussion and stabbing synth that only lurches back into the foliage after a full four minutes. "Phase Anansi" is vintage "Superape" Scratch material complete with whacky whistle and Reginald Dixon Wurlitzer and "Interlude" reprises a more steely gamelan before the Mantronix-style stabs herald the entrance of "Dub Cultivator". Good to hear Spooky once reaching the heights of his seminal "Galactic Funk" and Ryan Moore heading in brave new multiple directions.
GRIEVOUS ANGEL vs. NINEY THE OBSERVER
BLOOD AND FIRE (TWIST-UP JUNGLE MIX)
REVUE MUSIC REV008D
Whether the Grievous Angel actually issues vinyl or the label designs on his old Shards, Fragments and Totems blog are solely virtual, who cares. Stylistically related to Ray Hurford’s Small Axe People in his unashamed approach to sonics and their source, the Grievous Angel Sound System mangles and mashes the slim precedents of UK 2-step/garage/r’n’b/whatever back into the deeper roots of Niney and Scratch’s epochal chant with the result a frenetic shower of blows to Babylon head! There’s a whole site full of such whimsical experimentation to be found on his relocated spot at grievousangel.net.
KING TUBBY IN FINE STYLE
Showcasing Tubby's collaborations with foundation producers Rupie Edwards, Derrick Harriott, Vivian "Yabby You" Jackson, Winston Riley, Keith Hudson, Bunny Lee, Augustus Pablo, Lee Perry and Winston "Niney the Observer" Holness, this double set can be kindly interpreted as an attempt at part one of the definitive six CD set to document the legacy of the great sound man. Working from a small 4-track home studio in the tough Waterhouse district of West Kingston, Tubby preferred jazz to reggae and fixing TVs to engineering a session. Most of the tunes brought to him for mixing and dubbing were ‘a job’. Yet many of the end products are only just now being rightly recognised as sonic revelations that were to exercise profound impacts on the development of modern dance and other genres of contemporary music. The essential missing bits are of course Glen Brown, Carlton Patterson, Sugar Minott, Harry Mudie and Jimmy Radway, the latter two for whom Tubby probably provided his most considered and revolutionary work, plus the once-largely ignored digi-period at Firehouse. Containing a mix of the well-known and harder-to-find this set will appeal to both the hardcore and those persuaded to find out that the extravagant claims made on behalf of the Dubmaster are all true.
DUB PLATE STYLE VOL.2
A quick comeback for Manasseh, the exemplar of modern roots, after sharing last year’s "Step like Pepper" with the Equalizer. And, to paraphrase a Prince Lincoln Thompson tune, its "dub the way it should be …" as this set is more of a return to the classic vocal or instrumental followed by its dub version whilst its forerunner was packaged as showcase for the varied styles within the producers grasp. If any proof were needed of Manasseh’s clear superiority then head straight for the acoustically bassed ‘Western World Version’, a dub to Spiky T’s ‘Paper Soldier’ twelve inch, that purges a jazz based percussion bed with fast and dirty wah wah. Guests on this trip though Manasseh’s well spun dubplate crates are veteran Danny Red on the digitalized major pump ‘Don Gorgon’, Earl 16 on the passionately fluent ‘Zion City’ and the up and long time coming Brother Culture almost dubbed off the disc on ‘Challenging Version’. ‘Science Pt.2’ is one of those incessantly driving tunes that only exist in reggae where the synth horns are in sweetest tension with the urgency of the rhythm.
Chances are you will be familiar with parts of this album even though you may never have heard it, for the radio stings and jingles that link the dubs and instrudubs here have been shamelessly plundered by countless dance acts since before the simple act of sampling began. Michael "Mikey Dread" Campbell’s fame rests on his revolutionary input from the time he was employed as a radio DJ by Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation to fill in the ‘dead airtime’ after midnight. Little did the management know he would have the sheer neck to play reggae tunes back to back on his ‘Dread at the Controls’ show. By the time they realised what was going on Campbell was an overnight musical phenomenon supported in his righteous mission by the cream of the island’s producers and artists – didn’t stop him getting the sack though. This is his second, and most celebrated album, released first in the UK on the Cruise with the radio links blended into the mix by English Connection Dave Hendley. Taken individually there are three or four great tunes, but taken as a whole as one long celebratory segue this is one great reggae album and must rank well into the top ten ‘must have’ dub sets. Even more so as a bunch of contemporaneous dubs cuts are included, including the well-dread dub to Wally Bucker’s ‘Raggamuffin Style’ drenched in delay. Mikey went on to issue some fine side on his own DATC imprint and record some killa tunes for On U Sound, but this is the one he will be remembered for re-available at last.
OVERPROOF SOUND SYSTEM
NOTHING TO PROVE
DIFFERENT DRUMMER DIFCD27
The debut from Overproof Sounds – a Jah Grizzly and Stallion offshoot from Birmingham’s G.Corp – who with vocalists Ras MC T-Weed and Juggla have been busy on a non-stop Euro conversion tour. Their first single, the plea for quality control spliff build, "Watch What You Put Inna" opens this set with a jump-up intent that’s delivered in the remainder with a largely d&b/dancehall accented selection. Kenijah Booth, unsurprisingly son of the great reggae crooner Ken Boothe’s appears "Live It Up Right". Ultimately though a largely vocal reggae album demands a few great tunes but even with the impassioned vocals and accomplished technique this is mostly flat, despite the Alcapone impression on "Get with It" and Cheshire Cat’s late appearance on "The Herb". Top track turns out to be a polite version of Mad Professor’s "Kunta Kinte", a tune with mysteriously vague provenance.
HITEK BY METEOSOUND
A dub aesthetic always informs the decisions of the A&R department of Berlin’s finest electrodance label, and although there’s techno and hiphop styles present here if the product had to be dropped into a category then Daniel Meteo would go for dun. Dabrye maddeningly persistent signature kickbeat on "Magic Eyes" is only broken by brief ragga style MC interjections and an occasional keyboard twirl whilst Tom Thiel’s remix on Contriva’s "8 Eyes" is clear contender for ultimate anti-glop tune of the year. As Bus, Meteo and Thiel introduce the most favoured Earl 16 to voice ‘Simple Way’ and old friend the Rootsman also guests with ‘My World is Spinning’ his startling single from last year featuring Horace Andy – the one with the Hindi vocal percussion intro, there’s an Apparat remix from Monolake and old time Thiel connections via Sun Electric the Orb allow their ‘Green Ginger’ to be sliced up in a Bus dub remix. A freestyle selection of future classics all mastered down by Stefan Betke.
SUCKER PUNCH – JAMAICAN BOXING TRIBUTES
At last the Trojan concept team hits a pay dirt one-two! The links between reggae and the once sport of real kings has always proved strong, from experienced pugilist Prince Buster’s shout to Ali and Frasier on "Earthquake on Orange Street’ through to Cornell Campbell’s roughest outing "Boxing" cut for Joe Gibbs. As he strode out to face "Iron" Mike, Lennox Lewis rode riddims straight into the ring, UK’s ex-World Middleweight champ Nigel Benn became a well-known habitué of Daddy Kool’s reggae emporium in London’s Soho and African Head Charge’s Bonjo reputedly threw a killer right. Even though there’s no room in the ring for Bobby Kalphat’s "Counter Punch" this selection gets a unanimous decision for the inclusion of Big Youth on Burning Spear’s "Joe Frazier/He Prayed" rhythm with "Big Fight", superchamp Ali is represented by Charlie Ace, Trinity, Dennis Alcapone and Derrick Morgan and the great Joe Louis by the Dynamites. The whole package is rounded off with notes from the undisputed world welterweight champion from 1986 and now reggae anthropologist Lloyd "Raggamuffin" Honeyghan.
THE DEFINITIVE AUGUSTUS PABLO
This retrospective set must suffer the same criticism as the Tubby set reviewed above despite coming as highly recommended. Any attempt to chronicle the work of Augustus Pablo in a compilation set that may claim ‘definitive’ status would have to trawl further than Pablo’s own Rockers label – at least pulling in Clive Chin and Herman Chin Loy productions. Also there is a balance and selection issue here, as the Rockers catalogue is open for plunder then why are great vocals from Paul Blackman, Junior Delgado, the Heptones, Yami Bolo and others so obviously missing. But with an awesome line up of the deeply spiritual and heartfelt tunes that confront us here all such criticisms melt away. Direct from the Black Ark comes a rare outing for ‘Silent Satta’, there’s the boomingly crisp Tubby dub ‘New Style’, ‘Thunder Clap’ the clavinet cut to the rhythm better known as Dr Alimontado’s ‘Best Dressed Chicken in Town’ and the ultra sound chasm that is ‘Ras Menelik Harp’ stand out amongst some of the more obvious classics that have appeared many times on reissue sevens and compilation. Two hours plus of guaranteed bliss.