Clouds is the Finnish electrodub duo of Tommi Liikka and Samuli Tanner, their DIY aesthetic drew them together and led to this collaboration with Leipzig’s Jahtari massive. The main track, “Elders”, is a digital soundboy killer recreated for today’s more slo-mo dance stances driven by a slurred acapella from an unrecognisable Cocoa Tea, dancehall legend. The ‘vocal’ moves directly into the “trinity Station Mix” from Ras Amerlock aka Michael McCutcheon, who manages switches between spots as solo violinist for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and adventures in the dub dimension, mainly treated voice samples, bleeps, beeps and motorcycle revs all tearing at the constant pulse of the rhythm. For “Elders dub” on the flip Rootah, Disrupt’s partner at Jahtari, brings back the voice sample into a ruffer and spacier mix with the sliders thrown up and down the desk to create the track’s dynamics in a more old school dub style whilst for “Elders refix” Wadadda rounds the circle with the introduction of more orthodox bass judders under some “Omen” style doomy choral sweeps.
Dubkasm w/ Levi Roots & Afrikan Simba
Respek / I-Spek
SUFFERERS’ CHOICE 12”
Dubkasm is a UK roots reggae and dub outfit based in Bristol but with a link between DJ Stryda in the UK to Digistep in the remote town of Trancoso in Brazil’s Northeast. Whilst Stryda presents the Sufferah's Choice radio show and runs the label business, Digistep produces and mixes Dubkasm’s material. “Respek / I-Spek” are tunes that have been around on sound system dubplate for a while and now just making it onto vinyl, featuring Sir Coxsone frontman Levi Roots on a solidarity plea running discomix fashion into the deejay piece from Afrikan Simba. The flip has militant horns fanfare with a sax solo from Digistep again segueing into heavyweight dubwise mix. It’s a seamless blend of 70’s rockers sounds folded into UK digital steppers with the analogue feel winning out.
In the mid eighties Dennis Anthony Thomas aka King Kong was taken under the wing of King Tubby as an answer to the popularity of the ruling Tenor Saw, the response came with "Step On Dem Corn", "Aids", "Babylon" and "Two Big Bull
Inna One Pen" in combination with Anthony Red Rose. In 1986 King Kong moved to Prince Jammy to cut singles "Legal Wi Legal", "Trouble Again" and "Mix Up" all included in the album called Legal Wi Legal but retitled for Europe as Trouble Again. This reissue has the original ten album tracks plus three bonus tracks appearing for the first time on CD: “Move to the Top” on the “Real Rock” rhythm plus “Paro them Paro” and its version “Paranoia” cut as Bubblers Computer Stars aka Greensleeves own Chris Cracknell with Patrick Donegan, a rough reinterpretation of the Heavenless rhythm on which the deejay bemoans the atmosphere induced by gun culture.
PRESSURE SOUNDS CD
The Pressure Sounds label’s relocation to Tokyo this year fused a connection with Kentaro Okamoto aka turntablist DJ Kentaro, DMC World Champion from 2002 and no stranger to the UK via his long time association with the boys from Ninja Tune. Japan has long been a hotbed for reggae connoisseurs and although the occasional hip hop DJ has dabbled in mixing dancehall acapellas and into some of the more crossover sounds – but its still hip hop, here Kentaro delves deep into the highly cultural crates of the Pressure Sounds catalogue and stays true to the roots. Of course this still may be enough to wreak waves of apoplexy in the hordes of reggae Taliban but Kentaro’s skills go beyond pure manipulation into an appreciation of what he’s dealing with in the likes of versions to Ras Ibuna’s “Diverse Doctrine” and Channel One’s immortal “Kunte Kinte”, with the voice of Prince Far I interspersing the largely dubwise mix. This is a Japan only release but should be available via the usual specialist outlets across the world.
Jah Melodie / Slimmah Sound
Get Active / Jah Love
BUSH AND SHADOW 7”
Slimmah Sound is led out of Amsterdam by Tim ‘Slimmah’ Baumgarten, a one time hip hop DJ converted to roots reggae, and guitarist Robby Sens, both surrounded by a loose collective of singers and deejays. “Get Active” is a jump up steppers delivered in a declamatory style by local dread Jah Melodie, in the didactic fashion that once dominated the golden era of UK nu roots from a few years ago, things need to be a little more complicated lyrically these days. On the flip things slow down to a more promising dubwise sledgehammer one drop with the rousing vocals on an intro that doesn’t overstay its welcome, a tune that would not sound out of place in a Jah Shaka set.
King Midas Sound
Ghosts of the dancehall are called up then exorcised by King Midas, aka Kevin “Bug” Martin back on his medication with a radically reworked alter ego in combination with sweet modern roots vocalist Roger Robinson, and just as it seems Kode9’s Hyperdub imprint is warp bound for the inner spaces of techno he brings it home with this quirky and typically English cultural oddity; whispered over the kind of atmosphere left when everyone has vacated the building on beats just about still echoing in the head. The flip has two tastes of the forthcoming King Midas album, who knows if the sludgy beats and skidding synth sweeps of “One Ting” are there in the original mix before Dabrye got to this seductive identity crisis or if “Lost” really sounds like a Japanese obsessive’s tribute to Mark Stewart circa 1986 on the original mix before Flying Lotus inserted his crunchy textures.
Glen Augustus Holness, aka Nitty Gritty, was a contemporary of Tenor Saw, King Kong and Anthony Red Rose, all singers coming to prominence in the mid-eighties on the crest of the digital tsunami developing silkier vocal styles to counterbalance the new generation of metronomic rhythms. Nitty Gritty had a lower register than the rest with a penchant for Jamaican folk song; he eventually hit for Prince Jammy with the “Tempo” relick “Hog inna Minty”, followed by “Gimme some of your Sum’ting” on the Wailing Souls “Things and Time” rhythm, “Rub a Dub Kill You” on the Studio One stalwart “Rockfort Rock” and “False Alarm” on “Stalag” - a riposte to his cousin Tenor Saw’s immense soundboy anthem “Ring the Alarm”. All those tunes are found here plus other hits from the time and four bonus tracks; originally issued fresh by Greensleeves back in 1986 and sounding just as crisp today. Nitty Gritty was shot dead outside Super Power record shop in Brooklyn, New York in 1991, dancehall rival Supercat was charged but acquitted.
Truth & Rights
HEARTBEAT / STUDIO ONE CD
Back in 1969 Johnny Osbourne was one of the first post-rocksteady reggae artists to be come successful when, with the Sensations, he cut a number of singles for producer Winston Riley’s newly created Techniques label later complied for the album Come Back Darling (recently re-issued by Trojan and boosted by forty nine extra tracks!). After a sojourn in Canada Osbourne returned to Jamaica in the late seventies to produce what was to prove not only his masterpiece but most likely the Studio One label’s best vocal album. Taking a leaf from his emulators who had been plundering the Studio One riddim catalogue throughout the decade, Coxsone Dodd had started to revisit his old rhythms revitalising nine for this set; most immediately recognisable are the album’s title track restyling Al Campbell’s “Take a Ride” and “Can’t Buy Love” sung on top of the Soul Vendors’ vintage instrumental “Swing Easy”. But the less known rhythms are what raise the album several notches, specifically the affecting devotional Rasta hymn “Jah Promise” borrowing the Chosen Few’s “Don’t Break your Promise” and “We Need Love”, a pure Philly-style warm soul stirrer sparked from label colleague Otis Gayle’s treatment of the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around”. This ‘deluxe edition’ reissue carries six additional bonus tracks including “Luanda” by Dub Specialist the dub to “We Need Love” and an extended version of the title track running into it’s dub “Kampala”. Essential.
CASSAVA OUTERNATIONAL CD
Phase Selector Sound emerged out of Nashville in a dubwise cloud back in 1996, working with ROIR out of NYC and the late lamented BSI out of Portland Oregon, lately they have been dormant but member Craig Allen is now releasing music under the name Pale Rider on the newly create Cassava Outernational imprint, including a recent deep cut 12” “Selassie / Electrocute a Soundboy” which is well worth searching out, not only for the “Rockers pastiche” of the artwork. The set starts with two treatments of “Full Up”, better known as “Pass the Kouchie”, one a sound system shout out from Mr.Easy “Wickedest Thing” followed by “Kouchie Dub” distinguished by a lovely plangent vibes overlay whilst all sorts of explosions are running off the board. The rest of the tunes are self-written (although the horns from “Volcano” seems to be borrowed from Scratch’s “Blackboard Jungle”!) and segue through in sound system session style with efx firing through the mix and although this device may seem a little too familiar to devotees of the culture its really well executed here, and the difference in moving away from a digital to analogue environment is marked.
Limb by Limb
17 NORTH PARADE 2xCD
Whilst working on Gemini, Papa Roots and Rebel Tone sound systems Cutty Ranks acquired a nickname from his trade of butchery, an all too appropriate metaphor for the lyrical approach the deejay would take for the most of his alternative career. Alongside Shabba Ranks and Ninjaman, Cutty Ranks drew the line that separated the old school of cultural deejays from their brasher, flashier and new reality based bastard progeny. Although Jamaican deejays had always reflected the tougher end of ghetto life, the new brutal digi-rhythms left lyrics in much starker relief than the warm roots bed used by the likes of U Roy, I Roy et al. Cutty Ranks came to prominence with his debut “Gunman Lyrics” cut for Winston Riley but moved to Donovan Germain’s Penthouse label in 1990, from where most of his toughest tunes would emanate – although refraining from much of the slackness practiced by many of his contemporaries. The UK label fashion housed his album The Stopper, containing the tough title tune, “Hand Grenade” and “Pon Pause” all produced by Chris Lane and Gussie P. But this period also saw a series of crossover combination style, singer/deejay tunes, “Half Idiot” with Marcia Griffiths, “Decide Your Mind” with Dennis Brown and the outrageous “Lambada” on which he is joined by Wayne Wonder. This selection provides an overdue revision of this important deejay, judiciously avoiding some of his less successful jungle and hip hop diversions and instead concentrating on the stronger source material.
Jah Guide and Protect Me
Lifted from “Fever” the Sugar Minott / Peter Chemist produced debut album in 1986 the tune on this new seven inch revive pressing is actually “Who's Gonna Help Me Praise" rather than "Jah Guide And Protect Me" – both are on the tracklist and confusingly there are some interchangeable lyrics. To confirm the screw-up the dub is definitely “Praise Jah with Dub”! Nevertheless, it is Tenor Saw in top gospel form on a dubbed out vocal mix as he scats what sounds like an improvised entreaty for total devotion to Jahoviah.