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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Dub Review - December 2007

In a Dub Style (featuring Sly & Robbie)
Dredged up from wherever for reissue this is a particularly undistinguished set of dubs of provenance unknown to the writer, mixed by Soljie and Peter Chemist at Channel One and is reissued from 1985. The Bebo in question is Beswick ‘Bebo’ Phillips from Dunkirk in East Kingston, who in association with Clive Jarrett produced sets by Al Campbell (Bad Boy) and Carlton Livingstone (Rumours) around the same time so it’s likely that these are the source of these dubs. ‘Pedestrian’ is probably the best word and though its unlikely this album will ever be available for digital download if this ever were the case then the only track worth pushing buttons for is “Silence is Golden” where the rhythm displays golden hints of classic Taxi sides, especially the rolling piano lines of Robbie Lyn.

Foundation Bit
The only product so far from Leipzig’s Disrupt has been the “Tempo” rhythm mutant, the seriously deranged “Tubby ROM Module", unleashed on a 12” earlier this year. Most of the ten tracks here consist of older tunes first aired via the Jahtari net label from "Roots Matrix", and many net only 7s accessed via www.jahtari.org – where the next album Jah Bit Invasion can be found in demo from - but here they are mainly re-worked and improved versions with the addition of two new and previously unreleased tracks, "True Creators" and "Selassie I Continually". Most instructive track here is “Red, Gold & Green” a version to the Studio One Sound Dimension instrumental and dub “Drum Song”, behind their regeneration of this version is a rigorous application of a published dub manifesto, at its core the creation of tension and unpredictability and the subsequent inevitable release of tension. A previous net only EP on this rhythm was entitled “Drum Song Source Code” with collaborator contributions splaying off in all directions but collectively conforming to the manifesto’s demands. Although the acknowledged trigger for Jahtari was the Rhythm & Sound boys from Berlin proving that new warm dubwise sounds could be generated digitally, this East German reaction is an altogether ruffer manifestation. All cuts have been mastered into the netherworld of the deep bottom end by Duplates + Mastering and promised to be available in a series of vinyl 10” plates soon.

Gussie Clarke
Dread at the Controls Dub
Released in 1978 this album caused immediate confusion by the use of Mikey Dread’s signature shout in its title and the inclusion of the track “Michael Campbell Theme” leading punters to assume it emanated from the DeeJay of the day Mikey Dread. This was the admitted intent of producer Gussie Clarke who now admits capitalising on the Deejay’s hot rep; these days there’s no bad blood as both the DeeJay and producer speak quite openly about the matter. Although not as incendiary an album as say Mikey’s African Anthem or Evolutionary Rockers this is a well crafted set of dubwise excursions with the Sly Dunbar led Revolutionaries in fine fettle, a beautifully arranged horn section resounding through most of the mixes and most importantly the dubbed vocals of the Mighty Diamonds, the Tamlins and Leroy Smart dropped liberally into the reverb channel. “Meek Dub” is a swirling horns and heavy rimshot splattered dub cut of Leroy Smart’s “The Meek Shall Inherit”, sweetening things up is “Mixed Up Stuff” a bluesy flute dub of “Danger In Your Eyes” whilst “Hot Steppers” turns out to be just that, a killer proto steppers rhythm that sounds just awesome coming over a major sound system with triumphal horns interspersing energetic bursts of Sly’s innovative double drumming. In turn lovers and roots dubs balance this album out to make it one of those to just sit down and simply enjoy or bubble and skank away to at your own little blues dance.

The Gladiators
Studio One Singles
This Gladiators' release, Studio One Singles, recently appeared as a French bootleg on the Sankofa label but is now restored into the excellent Heartbeat series of Studio One reissues with top sound quality sourced from the original masters and rare singles. This release complements the “Presenting” album from Studio One and still only available legally on the original vinyl and consist of a killer collection of rarer tunes and many dub versions originally issued on 45. Most cuts come with versions or extended mixes; “Bongo Red” is here plus “Rearrange” on the Cables’ “Baby Why” rhythm that eventually found lyrical perfection in the Mighty Diamonds’ “Have Mercy”, the great “Big Boo Boo Dey” aka “I’m Telling Jah” and the 12” cut of “Pretending”. The core of the Gladiators, Albert Griffiths on guitar and Clinton Fearon on bass, also provided backing for some of the toughest and most righteous tunes in reggae – including some of Yabby You’s best output. A long time coming and truly one of the essential releases of the year.

DC Dub Connection
Mixed at King Tubby’s studio by Jammy and Scientist this set of late seventies and early eighties dubs is produced by Heptone Earl Morgan and has a late incarnation of the Revolutionaries on duty in the studio. The rhythms here are lifted from different sessions including The Many Moods of Alton Ellis compiled from tunes recorded between 1978 and 1980 including “Rise and Fall” and “No Man is Perfect”; but the sellers here are the two Black Ark dubs sourced from the Heptones’ Lee Perry produced Party Time, “Bo-Yarka Dub” a busy horn driven dub with fuzz guitar (‘Bo Yarka’ being JA slang for NYC) uses “Storm Clouds” whilst “Party Time Dub” is more stripped down jazzy affair, of course, from the album title track. Overall an essential purchase for dub lovers only, in addition to the Scratch tracks for the guitar work of Eric Frater and Ranchie McClean.

Madu Messenger / Echo Ranks
Government Man / It A Go Dread
By the year 2011 the city of Leicester will have a 50% ethnic minority population making it the first UK city not to have a white majority; it seems that even today most of the country’s reggae production is happening there at the hands of Steve Vibronics. Of the three new 10” plates from his Scoops the Madu Messenger and Echo Ranks is top of the pack. Madu Messenger started off with the Aba-Shanti crew before moving over to Vibronics, his relaxed vocals over an equally reclined rhythm quietly define the latest tendencies in nu roots, less strident, more meditative and subtly played, underpinned here by the roots percussion of I-Mitri and brass section by the ever present Vibronics brass section Splitz Horns. Echo Ranks gets messianic on the flip with honeyed harmonies rising against the dreadwise vocal in a fitting contrast. The dubs are taken at a convenient spliff rolling pace.

Fear No One / Hear Youts
Due to his genre-free suspension its almost entirely believable that Texan Jason Mundo lists Coldplay and Travis amongst his voluminous MySpace ‘musical interests’, but in the live sets he played recently in the UK it was Meatbeat Manifesto’s “Radio Babylon”, Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” and Cutty Ranks “The Stopper” that came in for the Dub Assembly remix action. This is his seventh dubplate in just around twelve months and by stamping his dub credentials across the first two of those he continues to defy expectations with every release, although bass is the key. The rebel stances in these new tunes are heightened by what sound like crackling old school techno samples and what lifts the tunes above revisionist criticism is that they are built purely for the dance. Along with Disrupt (see above) Mundo is responsible for breathing new life into the dub scene whilst making regular inroads into dubstep’s refreshingly open frameworks and kicking over the traces of any hint of a strict 2step/UK garage background.

Brenda Ray
Reissued from two years ago when this set made a brief appearance on Roy Cousin’s Tamoki Wambesi label, the album is now picked up and given a deserved presentational makeover by the Japanese reissue specialists EM. The cover photo still has Brenda in a pose between Pharoah Sanders’ ‘Thembi’ and Pablo’s ‘East of the River Nile’ and the tracklist is identical, but the packaging has extensive notes and lyric transcriptions in Japanese and English. Brenda is one half of NAAFI, recently celebrated on Soul Jazz’s DIY compilation, the other half being Sir Freddie Viadukt, aka the Minister of Noise. For many years Freddie was the key to remastering the Tamoki Wambesi catalogue and its many of those rhythms that are recycled here with Brenda’s breathy nuevo doo-wop stylings wrapped around the likes of Prince Far I on “Sweet Sweet Wine” and Knowledge on “Lend A Helping Hand”, whilst “Love to Share” starts and ends with a phantom John Lee Hooker; top track is “Swirlin’ Hearts” the version to Roy Cousins’ “Hearts Entwine” where Scientist is found in the mix. With the Japanese prediliction for Lovers Rock Brenda is set cult stardom in downtown Tokyo.

Summer Records Anthology 1974 - 1988
Now established as a major reissue imprint across a number of genres whatever Light In The Attic have released to date has just been in preparation for this revelation of a disc. The JA ex-pat scene has been referenced in this column many times before highlighting Jackie Mittoo’s influence on the scene, the Wackie’s read across from NYC and Oswald McCreary’s Half Moon label, but this compilation lifted from the vaults of Jerry Brown's Ontario-based Summer Sound Studios is a real treasure trove containing crucial catalogue tracks, unreleased masters, and debut alternate takes. The revelation is the studio band
Earth Roots & Water who lay down the loosest of funkified nyabinghi grooves on five straight tracks for singers Johnny Osbourne and Jerry Brown before coming up with the stunning dubstrumental “Awakening”; other highlights are the digital tunes from Willi Williams, “Run Them A Run” with horn riff stolen from “Armagideon Time” and “Call Me Nobody” from Unique Madoo, and a couple of mandatory Perryesque cuts from Jerry Brown himself and Adrian “Homer” Miller.
But what makes this set unmissable is the Dual Disc component featuring over 20-minutes of unseen archival film footage of Jerry Brown, Jackie Mittoo, Willi Williams the whole Summer Records family shot during the late seventies and early eighties

Bunny Wailer
Rock ‘n’ Groove
1981 was Bunny Wailer’s most prolific year with four albums released in Jamaica, including tributes to Jah Bob and the Wailers, the second volume of his Dubd’sco series and his crowning achievement Rock ‘n’ Groove, an album of supreme and justified confidence riding the crest of the then ruling rub a dub wave. Difficult then to believe that this Tafari edition is its first appearance since then and debut on CD; the bad news is that although the original seven tracks have been remastered they have also been edited down from their original extended lengths to make room for ten bonus tracks. So an example of the damage is when the glorious “Jammins”, celebrating the sheer delight of hearing Jah Bob’s “Jamming” on a local sound system, is rudely truncated to less than three minutes by an inexplicable fade. Some of the bonus tracks have Bunny in that corny faux rap style he can’t resist, but there’s also top drawer cuts with “Don Dada” delivered on the old Studio One “African Beat” riddim and “Rule Dance Hall” – back in ’81 you would not choose an argument on that with Jah Bunny. A reprogramming job to run the original order is as near as you can get to sheer musical ebullience of the artist at his highest heights.