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Monday, September 01, 2008

Dub Review - September 2008

Big Youth
Tippertone Rock / Version
Recent trips to London by Big Youth have resulted in a deal for domestic 7" pressings of some of his greatest tunes on a revived Negusa Negast label, all in a variety of coloured vinyls. In the early seventies Jah Youth was a regular deejay at Emperor Lord Tippertone's sound system, this single is a tribute to the sound that provided the stage for him to practice his deejay skills in competition with his
peers and was a follow-up hit to the Gussie Clark produced "The Killer". Although all the five singles repressed come with dubs and are worth the investment, the purchase sequence would start with this one then "Jim Screechie", an afro-centric version of the 'Stalag' rhythm on which the Youth pays tribute to John Coltrane and quotes the Last Poets " …… automatic crystal remote control, synthetic genetics
command your soul ….."

Culture & the DeeJays at Joe Gibbs 1977-79
Though Joseph Hill and Culture started out at Studio One most of their greatest sides were cut at a later stage for the producers Mrs. Sonia Pottinger at High Note and then for Joe Gibbs. This set pulls together some of the groups' twelve inch discomixes shared with an array of popular deejays of the day plus a few tracks where seven inch vocal sides are segued into the DJ version to form an extended mix and complete the album concept with nuff tunes. Joseph Hill was great songwriter so no need to retread old tunes so its mostly one away rhythms here with the exception of "See Them a Come / Natty Pass Him G.C.E" when the group are joined by Shorty the President, which is built on Studio One's "Heavy Rock". In an usually over-scrupulous
example of observing IPR "Disco Train", a version of "This Train", is credited 'W. Guthrie'!, Nicodemus joins to exalt all passengers amid whistle and toot efx. "Burning an Illusion / Same Knife" continues the 'Rasta versus Babylon' theme that permeates the set with a deejay cut from the late Prince Far I notorious for its opening line beginning "….. not even the dog that piss against the wall of Babylon …" . Of the other eight selections I Roy and Bo Jangles hold two tunes each
and the rest are shared between Ranking Joe, Prince Mohammed, Clint Eastwood, Prince Far I and U Brown. The dubs for most these tracks are freely available with a little search effort.

Gussie P
Roots & Dub Vol 1
Gussie P has an engineering pedigree dating back to the early 1980's developing his skills at Fashion Records, since when he worked with many of reggae's leading artists worldwide, launching his own Sip A Cup imprint in 1984. The label mainly provided an outlet for vinyl releases and was partly responsible for the newly established popularity of the ten inch format. This is the first volume of a
showcase series promising to feature the best of previous vinyl only issues.
The late Junior Delgado, voice of a lion, recreates his "Storm is Coming" originally cut for Dennis Brown's DEB, Cornell Campbell re-voices "Natty Don't Go" and Winston 'Mr.Fixit' Francis his Studio Classic "Let's Go to Zion" but this time with constantly bubbling synth drum and exquisite trombone dub. The two massive tunes on here though are the Twinkle Brothers' "Repent" and the Matic Horns' "Jah
Farther" ("Theme to the Godfather") both in demand on sound systems for a couple of years now. Rhythms come courtesy of Mafia & Fluxy, Leroy Mafia contributes "Musically On Guard" an updated discomix version of "Beware (of Your Enemies)" aka the rhythm known as "Kunte Kinte".

Henry & Louis
Henry & Louis are Bristolians Jack Lundie and Andy Scholes, to be found dubbing around the West Country of the UK since the late eighties and starting their 2 Kings label a few years later. Releases have been sporadic, spread over a variety of labels and this set was promised a couple of years ago but is now expanded and available at last. Like their contemporaries Iration Steppers and the Disciples,
Henry & Louis always have been and always will be strictly roots with an unswerving devotion to exploring the outer reaches of what is still recognisably roots and dub. The style is primarily steppers in this showcase album where the dub follows the vocal in extended mixes, Izyah Davis' "Hands of Jahoviah/Hands of Dub" is chasmic in proportion – the sonic equivalent of one of those Indiana Jones's truck chases
between ever closing sandstone walls – but when the Donette Forte tune "Too Strong" slows down to what seems like a shuffle in comparison and Andy Scholes' own vocal "Lions' Den" opens with urgently bowed strings there's a realization something else is happening here. Confirmed by the closer "Rebel Dub" with close echoed cascading binghi percussion dominating the mix, its one of those tracks tucked away that turn out to be worth the wait.

Clive Hunt
Clive Hunt & the Dub Dancers
Best known for his production of the Abyssinians' unsurpassable "Satta Massagana" album on 1976, Clive 'Azul' Hunt aka Lizard also happens to be one of reggae's great arrangers and of late has had maximum exposure via the Wackie's reissue programme due to his long collaboration with Lloyd 'Bullwackie' Barnes. Recorded mainly at Tuff
Gong and Mixing Lab studios this is a brand new dub set engineered and mixed by Azul himself, pulling in guests like Sly, Horsemouth, Chinna, Sticky and Lloyd Parkes means a veritable who's who of old school session musicians. So what follows can only be a disappointment: after "Dub Story" the intro track from dub poet Ras
Neto centring the album on a preoccupation with the contemporary theme of Middle East conflict the set continues with some pedestrian dubstrumentals. There's nuff ruff dub sets out there these days but competent never equates to compelling and by the time Icho Candy's deejay track "Guns and Guns" is inventively dubbed out on the last track as "Guns and Dubs" its too late to rescue the sense of ennui
already embedded by too many dull dubs.

Fred Locks
Glorify the Lord
Fred Locks aka Stafford Elliot will forever be associated with his mid seventies roots anthem "Black Star Liner" and the album of the same name, like Burning Spear's "Marcus Garvey" and the Mighty Diamonds' "Right Time" the tune reflected the zeitgeist but also the singer was, like many of his contemporaries, criminally under-recorded in the rush by the record inductry to cross-over reggae to the mainstream. In the late 1970s as a member of the vocal trio Creation Steppers he arrived in London and began collaborating with London-based sound system operator and producer Lloyd 'Sir' Coxsone, who in turn worked with Steve 'Blacker Dread' Martin, producer and shop proprietor whose excellent reggae outlet can still be found on Brixton's Coldharbour Lane. Twenty five years later this excellent new set showcases the
vocal talents of Fred Locks placing along side the likes of Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor quality wise. Recorded at Easy Street and Mafia & Fluxy studios in the UK and Steven Stanley, Mixing Lab and Tuff Gong studios in Jamaica, featuring rhythms from Mafia & Fluxy and the Firehouse Crew, with Dean Fraser, Horsemouth and Chinna and Soljie Hamilton, Lynford 'Fatta' Marshall and Colin 'Bulby' York on desk control; it's a well measured set of roots and culture including the title track on the "Real Iron" rhythm from 2003, a lovers' rock styling of Junior Byles "Curly Locks" with the Daffodils on harmony (!) and revisit of the Creation Steppers' roots classic "Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon Falling Down)".

Barrington Levy
Teach the Youth: Barrington Levy & Friends at Joe Gibbs 1980-85
The arrival of 17 North Parade as the Chin family's New York based VP revival imprint has been a really welcome addition to the small remaining core of labels dedicated to ensuring the exposure of often ignored roots side from the seventies and early eighties. Most of the recent concentration on Barrington Levy has focused on his mid eighties output as opposed to this collection culled from an earlier
set Reggae Vibes shared with Sammy Dread but with the addition of some contemporary extended mixes and four dubs at the hands of the more creative half of the Mighty Two, engineer Errol Thompson, notably "Gwan an Lef Me" one of his best mixes where its difficult to believe that more hands were not at work on the desk during mixdown and about as near dub ever got to Bo Diddley. As might be expected many of the
rhythms are resuscitated from the rock steady era or from Studio One, so "Mine Yuh Mouth" is Jackie Mittoo's "One Step Beyond" and "My Woman" uses the Techniques' "Love is Not a Gamble". The extended mixes feature deejays Ranking Trevor, Lui Lepke and Kojak & Lisa, all joining in with lyrics addressing the concerns of the emerging
dancehall crowds - usually observations on marital discord. The album captures the young Barrington Levy at his freshest, just as he is about to become a huge dancehall star and before his relocation to UK.

Winston McAnuff
What a Man Deal With?
Born the son of a preacher in the hills of Manchester parish, near Christiana, in Jamaica in 1957 as a youth Winston McAnuff moved to Kingston befriending and auditioning with Hugh Mundell, Earl Sixteen and Wayne Wade. As much a songwriter as singer he cut his first album Pick Hits to Click for Derrick Harriott in 1977. "What a Man a Deal With" was recorded three years later for the Top Ranking International
label, home of Inner Circle and the Fatman Riddim Section. Recorded at Channel One between 1978 and 1979, engineered by Maxie and Crucial Bunny, it's a thick rich mix not unlike Jacob Miller's work of the same period using the same musicians. His declamatory vocal style is a match for the righteous and often scathing lyrics and he even adds some extra passion to his cover of Bob Andy's "Unchained", the cut
here has the added surprise of Trinity arriving for an extended DJ version running into the dub. Indeed the real bonus here is the addition of five further previously unavailable dubs, all lusciously viscous mixes – a welcome addition to the relatively scarce canon of the Fatman Riddim Section. This set was originally reissued in 2003 and is now redistributed by Harmonia Mundi.

Hugh Mundell
Jah Will Provide / Ital Slip
As one of his favourite roots vocals this was selected specially by Pressure Sounds' boss Pete Holdsworth for release on a limited edition heavyweight 7" inside a Rockers card sleeve, this beautifully delivered sufferer's plaint from the late Hugh Mundell, produced by his mentor Augustus Pablo was originally found, with the dub, on the singer's classic Africa Must Be Free by 1983 album and is now issued for the first time on 7". The engineers for the album were Phillip Smart, Errol Thompson and Sylvan Morris – my money is on Smart as responsible for "Ital Slip" as its style most resembles his master, King Tubby. Also revived on the same label is a reissue of Junior Byles' "Lorna Banana" taken from the label's recent Micron compilation but with the addition of its version on the flip "Straight to Scratch Head".

Augustus Pablo
The Mystic World of Augustus Pablo – The Rockers Story
For most artists a four CD collection could probably represent a 'definitive' retrospective, but not for the late Augustus Pablo. This sumptuous set compiles an overview of the artist/producer's work on his own Rockers and Message labels but excludes much of his great work as a session man, such as "Fat Baby" for Keith Hudson, "Bells of Death" for Derrick Harriott, his stunning melodica version of "My
Desire" cut for Phil Pratt on the flip of John Holt's vocal or even his contribution to the dub version of Primal Scream's "Star". Even though the awesomely deep "Ras Menelik Congo Harp" is missing here it would be churlish to criticize further as this is a really wonderful collection – especially as it retails for around $35 and has the bonus of a DVD containing beautiful footage of Pablo and his protégé Hugh
Mundell in an al fresco improvisation session, surely worth the price alone. The fourth disc here is billed as 'rarities', although that's not really the case for hardcore Pablo fans this set will still be a must for them and newcomers alike. Despite having only one hit in Jamaica, "Java" cut for Clive Chin in 1971, Pablo has had an influence unrivalled by any other reggae artist (outside Bob Marley) save Lee
Perry and King Tubby with whom he creates an unquestionable dub trinity.