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Thursday, June 01, 2000

Dub Review - June 2000

Dry & Heavy Full Contact


Dry & Heavy's second album for Green Tea, Pressure Sounds' more leftfield sister label, finds the band in confident mood. Opening affairs with "Tiger Claw Skank", a ritual slaughter of the "Cherry Oh Baby" rhythm, the agenda is set for some serious challenges to the established reggae modus operandi. Likkle Mai, the female vocalist, recently guested on Primal Scream's Japanese tour dates. Her vocal on "Dawn is Breaking", ethereal and sexy at the same time, brings to mind Sister Frica's "One in the Spirit" produced by Pablo at the Black Ark, whereas "Love Explosion" finds her in a sweet lover's mood. Three 7" pre-releases have prefaced the albums release, creating an expectant vibe that the set more than satisfies. Although more commercial than their last album "One Punch", the sonics and construction evident in the album's tunes prove the techniques of the old Jamaican dubmasters have been intelligently absorbed - largely by the band's involvement with On U Sound's Adrian Sherwood. Vinyl freaks can pursue a Japanese copy from the Beatback label (BRLP24).

Burning Spear Marcus Garvey/Garvey's Ghost


Reissue specialists Simply Vinyl were astonished to discover that last year's revival of the Upsetters' "Superape" rapidly became one of their best sellers. No surprise then to find the partnership with Island continuing with the release of a whole bunch of seventies classics. But there are "classics", and then there are classics. Burning Spear's "Marcus Garvey", at once militant, joyous and devotional, is an album that busts out of the reggae genre despite its deeply rooted Rasta foundation. Sound system operator Jack Ruby never had the rightful credit for producing this set which defined the sound of the streets of West London in 1976. Here the original album is coupled with its dub companion "Garvey's Ghost". Many hardcore dub fans have never rated these versions as they were remixed from the originals, only glimpsed from a few appearances on the flips of 7" pre-releases on the Jamaican Fox label. Nevertheless, the dub set remains essential as together the tunes undoubtedly make up the greatest ever roots reggae album.

Lennie Hibbert Creation


From the late sixties, or even early seventies, here's a one-off reggae rare groove slow-burner from the fathomless vaults of Clement Dodd's Studio One. Another musical graduate from the Alpha Boys School, vibesman Lennie Hibbert became a key member of Sound Dimension, the outfit which generated the rhythms to propel generations of reggae hits. Jackie Mittoo helps out on this set where his signature organ sounds underpin Lennie's jazz-inflected work on the vibes. The instrumentals split between a few originals, versions of hits of the time such as the Heptones' "Pretty Looks" and Keith and Tex's "Tonight" and then covers of tunes popular on the U.S. jazz lounge circuit like "Nature Boy" and "Quiet Village" here retitled "Village Soul". But what marks this album out from its easier contemporaries is the funky injection of the drum and the bass - cool to play outdoors this summer!

Augustus Pablo El Rockers


Discounting Marley, and alongside King Tubby and Lee Perry, Augustus Pablo is perhaps one of the guaranteed names in reggae. Every self-respecting music fan from the punk era also possessed a worn copy of "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown". Its surprising therefore that after the artist's early demise last year there were no shameful cash-ins by the issue of sloppily thrown together or dubious material. It is equally satisfying to greet this "new to CD" compilation with unalloyed enthusiasm. Compiled by the culturally impeccable Harry Hawkes, with a little help from longtime Pablo devotee and ex-Disciple Mr. Lol "Boomshackalacka" Bell-Brown, the set can only be compared in quality to those Dylan bootlegs which gather together superb outtakes and versions from his golden years. This time "KTMRU" forms the core with every track being re-presented in one or more dub or instrumental takes. All the tracks have appeared at one time another on JA 7" pre-release but now are to be found exclusively in the collectors market. From the artwork, to the notes and selection this is a wonderful set and a must for all Pablo fans. Certain to end up as one of the reggae revival CDs of the year.

Various King Size Dub Chapter 6


The New Dub is now coming through thick and fast and the Echo Beach label refuses to be diverted from its righteous purpose by weakhearts! Not afraid to mix the smoother sounds generated out of Chicago's Guidance label with the more rootsy and abstract methods more in favour this side of the Atlantic, we find very little forced fusion in the blend. G-Corp remix Dillinger and Wailers tracks, Velvet Revolution veterans Hypnotix are still dubbing outta Prague with Senegalese singer Bourama and Smith & Mighty donate a dub from their new album. Other contributions come in from San Francisco's Thunderball, Toronto's Watershell, Leeds' Black Star Liner, Berlin's Seeed and all points 360 degrees in the name of dub

Bob Marley & the Wailers The Complete Bob Marley & the Wailers 1967 to 1972 III JAD JADCD1005

This third volume in JAD's "complete" Bob Marley & the Wailers may carry some of the criticisms attached to other labels which are tempted to attach such an absolute to their product. However in this case the compilers are forgiven such sins, not only in their present lives but also in all their previous incarnations. For, contained on one of the CDs of this double set is the most elemental track ever cut on the Wailers and a mix that stands to this day as the wildest ever from Lee "Scratch" Perry. Originally to be found on the flip of the Upsetter 12" "Disco Devil", Perry's mix of "Keep On Moving", itself a version of the Curtis Mayfield song, has never been re-released in any form since its original appearance in Jamaica. A mint to excellent copy fetches over £100. The Wailers vocal treatment of the song is an exercise in unbridled paranoia, but then that is followed by an apocalyptic toast by a DJ named Wong Chu, believed to be part of the Tippertone sound system but about whom nothing else is known and no other recordings are extant. After the DJ Perry steps to the desk and takes it to the max in an abstract welter of reverb and echo - a masterpiece. Worth trading in all those other recent sub-standard Perrys just to buy this one - and the rest of the compilation is immaculate too!

King Tubby The Dub Organiser


At the turn of the sixties almost all Jamaican pressed 7" singles were accompanied by a "b" side which was simply an instrumental version of the main vocal side. This served a dual purpose, commercially it made records cheaper for the producer but creatively DJs, MCs or toasters were able to use the track as a rhythm bed upon which to extemporise lyrically. King Tubby changed all this by originating what we now know as the dub version which, for a time in the mid seventies, was more popular than both vocal and DJ sides. The market will have to wait a long time before any product addresses a reasonable attempt at an overview of the thousands of dubs Tubby created for probably over a hundred "producers". In the meantime we take what we can and must. This choice of Bunny Lee sides is a sweet selection, albeit sounding like an obvious mastering job from disc. All mixed between 1974 and 1977 by Tubbs and Princes Phillip and Jammy, these sonic revelations were achieved by the use and abuse of an early sixties vintage four-track MCI mixing board rescued from Dynamics Studio by Bunny Lee. Amongst the many highlights are the pure lashing version of "Ali Baba" here "Natty Dread Kill the Barber", several takes on the "Gorgon" theme and the dub to Horace Andy marvellous "Zion Gate".

Bim Sherman Rub-A-Dub Volume 1


Although Bim Sherman is perhaps best know these days for his work with Adrian Sherwood's On U Sound label and collective, his largely self-produced Jamaican work of the seventies created a set of singles still much sought after in the reggae collectors' market. Many of these tunes, originally found on labels such as Scorpio, Red Sea, Element, Sun Dew and Ja-Man, were compiled on the album "Lover Forever" released late last year. What we have here is not exactly that album's dub companion (life should be so easy!) but the coincidence of rhythms is extensive. Although all the engineers are not credited they are likely to include Tubby, Jammy, Pat Kelly, Erroll Thompson and Clive Chin. Remastered from disc, the job is excellent and the result remarkable in that the eighteen tracks play through in fine style without any of the lag that usually plagues even the best of dub albums. Those familiar with Bim's later work will recognise many of the tunes as the singer has versioned some of his favourites a number of times.

Various Wreck This Mess - Remission 2


For many year Laurent Diouf has championed all forms of experimental dub-infected sound via "Wreck This Mess", his Radio Libertaire radio show somewhere in the Paris environs. Although billed as "ambient-industrial vs. electronic dub vs. hypnotic grooves" when it's all distilled down what we are left with is the dominant sound of drum and bass. DJ Spooky and Spectre come in from New York, Extramadura and the Dub Factory make the journey from the UK and Holon and Audio Active from Japan. But the standout track is provided by South London's Lee Digidub from the time he spent creating sound sources by exploiting the possibilities presented in a Swedish scrap metal yard!

Bucolic Dzyan Blood


Only in America! A brooding, booming throb persists throughout the album's entirety, scraps of vocal samples are heard like filtered outtakes from the "Eraserhead" soundtrack. At times it could be Tod Dockstadter or Arcane Device in dub. Alternatively it really is a broadcast from a faulty short-wave transmitter, as the ghost of King Tubby meets 23 Skidoo in the flaking substructure of space station Mir. Sound gaps are occasionally created for unexpected, but fevered, bouts of relief. This is twisted stuff.