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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dub Review - January 2008

Abassi Allstars

No Answer E.P.

Deep Root 10"

Abassi Hi Power is the custom built 12 kilowatt Sound System that is run out of Cologne, Germany by Perch of Zion Train, in the studio Perch gathers a collective as Abassi Allstars. This latest plate features a vocal cut from Scratch's son Omar Perry followed by a second vocal on the same rhythm from Carlton Livingston and a dub cut by Perch. The flip has a second riddim cut in a discomix style with Minoo on a modern lovers female vocal spliced directly into the dub. What distinguishes all these cuts is the triumphal uniosn horn section driving the rhythm forward, its becoming a Deep Root signature sound, especially satisfying on the dub where Perch throws in a melodica on top of the brass and steps up the beats per minute into a frenzied skank.


Soul Pirate

Forward CD

In 2001 Sicilian Alberto D'Ascola aka Alborosie arrived in Jamaica leaving behind his Reggae National Tickets band in Italy. In a transformation akin to Robert Johnson's post-crossroads emergence by 2006 Alborosie had become the hottest new roots artist on the island with the success of his ganja anthem "Herbalist", guaranteed notoriety via its ban by JBC. The following year he scored an even bigger tune, "Kingston Town" – no relation to the Lord Creator/UB40 cover song of the same name – and what was remarkable about Alborosie's output was not only his return to roots reggae but his complete and deep understanding of the genre, from songwriting, to arranging, to vocal delivery, production and dubbing. The debut album opens with a shout from UK reggae don Mr. David Rodigan, a stamp of authenticity, and continues with a fifteen tune selection including both "Herbalist" and "Kingston Town" plus another single "Rastafari Anthem" together with newer tracks covering a range of styles from the ska of "Patricia", early dancehall chat of "Badmind" and "Natural Mystic" an unusually un-embarrassing tribute to Jah Bob with Ky-Mani Marley on the chorus.

Dennis Alcapone / Bunny Lee

Usain Bolt Of Lightning / Thunder Dub It to Missy Elliott Super Version

Shady Lane UK 7"

Only a few weeks after Usain Bolt left the rest off the field behind at the Bird's Nest and creating a sensation in a Beijing nightclub by DJ'ing a set off his iPhone, Dennis Alcapone was in the studio with Shady Tree label boss Diggory Kenrick and Bunny Lee producing this old-school style tribute to Jamaica's finest athlete backed by Sly and Robbie, with backing vocals from Mike Brooks and Doctor Alimantado on a cut of "Queen Of The Minstrels". Last year the tune had been big in the US for Jazmine Sullivan using the Missy Elliott-produced "Need U Bad" hence the title of the version. The stream of seven inch singles is a trickle these days compared to the seventies so its heartening to find examples of the DJ as chronicler of the times still going on.

Eating Betty

Every Spoil a Dub

ACEtone Studio CD

Irish exile Mel Gray aka Eating Betty has been attending dubsters anonymous for years and he's still not cured, in search of that perfect synthesis of Lee Perry and King Tubby meeting again in the studio five years after Blackboard Jungle in Dub his downtown New York based ACEtone studio set up is dedicated to analogue confessions dubstyle, real instrumentation and samples confined to vocal ghosts. The rhythms on the first four dubs here all have that pre-Black Ark late-Upsetters feel, but the mix is swooning with efx, especially the appearance of Marcus Garvey on opener "Disunity Dub" and the refreshing acoustic guitars on "Cyaan get no dub"; then by the time the title track appears things start to get more weirder and the mixing more abstract with the steps back through the tune difficult to trace, fierce overlapping percussion and giant reverbed rimshots taking the tune out. Overall an excellent third album, but the top track is definitely "New New Dub" sounding like a ouija board studio collaboration with Joe Meek, opening with an irresistible, but rarely used, mix of piano and organ keys separating out after the intro but continuing to vamp and submitting to dub efx through the rhythm.

Mikey Murka w/Disrupt

Downpressor Man / Downpressor Man Version

Maffi 7"(Germany)

The first release in the Jahtari organisation's new seven inch series reviving the cheapo casio driven and early generation syndrum rhythms of the mid eighties in tribute to labels like Firehouse, Unity, Jammys and Xterminator. Copenhagen's Maffi Boys producers, Moog and Junior the Rat, come up with the typically jaunty synth line and enough of a lost and lonesome edge to the melody line for ex-Unity Sounds singjay Mikey Murka to rub up against. The dub on the flip has Disrupt allowing the basic rhythm to flow whilst playing with the standard bank of whistle and siren efx, creating exactly the kind of tune that when played in the dance begins to open up and bounce off the walls, tickling your backbone through your stomach and ribs.

Johnny Osbourne

Most Wanted – Greensleeves 1980 - 1988

Greensleeves CD

Johnny Osbourne is one of those few foundation reggae artists who can lay claim to a number or 'golden ages'. In October's issue we touched down on the classic Studio One vocal album Truth & Rights, both before and after he had two spells with Winston Riley, the second producing the definitive version of "Purify your Heart". Here Greensleeves' Chris O'Brien curates Osbourne's dancehall to digital period when the singer first hooked up with the Roots Radics for a series of singles, from the anti-gun anthem "Fally Ranking" – the twelve inch cut opens this set – to the sweet lovers of "Ice Cream Love", then stayed on under Jammy's guiding hand for some of the toughest soundboy singles of the day including "In the Area" the brooding take on "Stalag" with its 'Puppa Jammy' tribute vocal following the melody of "Banana Boat Song", "Buddy Bye Bye", the ultimate "Sleng Teng" clone designed to drive the dancefloor crazy, the stop-start, eventually driving into full digi-dub cruise mode on "No Sound Like We" and "Struggle Ha Fi Gwaan". Scientist, Barnabas, Steven Stanley and Jammy himself at the controls.

Augustus Pablo / Keith Hudson

Fat baby / Fight on fight on

Mafia JA 7"

Missing for many years until re-sourced to the public on Trojan's mouth-watering "Hudson Affair" collection from 2004, "Fat Baby" is immediately recognisable as the rhythm to Big Youth's "S90 Skank" and the title track of rebel producer Keith Hudson's "Pick a Dub", the breakthrough album that made dub hip. "Fat Baby" has Pablo at the absolute peak of his game, at one moment his melodica slicing the rhythm easy as a well-tempered Japanese blade and the next floating feather-like on top of its bouncing uplift. How this "Fat baby" got its title remains a mystery but never was a tune better named with its joyful bounce and shuffle motion. The flip has a Hudson vocal on one of his typically stripped, taut and chunky rhythms, entreating his partner to join him on the revolutionary path. Of the whole batch of investable 7" Mafia reissues from Jamaica around at the moment, some with rarer material pressed up, this has got to be the pick.


Randy's 50th Anniversary


Out late last year this set features 50 tracks prodcued over 50 all at the legendary Randy's studio in Kingston, Jamaica, although the Chin family owners relocated to New York City in 1979 and now run VP (from Vincent and Patricia Chin) the world's largest reggae distribution outfit. Randy's Records store was founded in 1958 and four years to 17 North Parade in Kingston where Vincent began to record local artists in the upstairs rooms above the shop – becoming know as Randy's Studio 17. The first volume focuses on shuffle, jump, boogie, ska and early reggae classics in the period 1960 to 1971, a virtual who's who read through instrumentally with Rico, Don D, Baba Brooks and Charlie Organaire with the Wailers, Alton Ellis and Ethiopians and early MC/DJ Count Machukie. The second set opens with Augustus Pablo's genre-defining Far East sound "Java" followed by I Roy's DJ take "Hospital Trolley"; other highlights include Lloyd Parks' "Ordinary Man" with its version from the Impact Allstars "Ordinary Version 3" a lesson on how to construct a rhythm as the track breaks down and is built again piece by piece; and there's beatiful vocal sides from Donovan Carless with his great cover version of William DeVaughn's easy soul hit "Be Thankful (for what you've got)" and Errol Dunkley's devotional scat "Created by the Father". The set is a reggae primer and a handsome lovingly constructed product. A 40 minute DVD accompanies this release with contemporary interviews and many vintage stills and film clips, extensive liner notes are contributed by Steve Barrow and David Katz.

Sylford Walker / King Tubby

Deuteronomy / Dub

South East Music UK 7"

Versioning "Death in the Arena" a rhythm originally created by the Studio One hit machine via Alton Ellis and the Soul Vendor's original single "Whipping the Prince" and given its immortal title from Roland Alphonso's instrumental take, the rhythm was re-popularised in the late seventies with Jah Joe's "Love on the Scene" but it was Glen Brown and engineer of choice, King Tubby, who took the tune to a different level on "Deuteronomy". Sylford Walker, an under-recorded roots artist recording primarily for Glen Brown and Joe Gibbs, was a singer from the Burning Spear mould with a lighter voice tone but the same concerns of trial and tribulation. The pure but blistering proto-steppers that emerged from Tubby's mix laid a template for much of what was to come, specifically out of Channel One, and its one of those dubs where the vocal reappears reverbing out through the mix. There's a full set of newly pressed Glen Brown produced singles around at the moment, but sonic purist can still source the full twelve inch mix of this unmissable and still vital piece of reggae history via a Blood & Fire down load from their compilation of Sylford Walker and DJ Welton Irie.