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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Dub Review - June 2008

Cedric 'Im' Brooks & the Divine Light Band
From Mento to Reggae to Third World Music
Launched in 2007 by VP Records, the 17 North Parade imprint refers to the location of Randy's Record Mart, at one time the premier recording studio and record shop in Kingston and a mecca for reggae music lovers for much of the late 60s through the 70's. So let's hope they continue to revive albums of the quality we have here as the Count Ossie sideman presents an upful historical review of Jamaican music through to the time this was recorded in 1973. Starting with the mento of "Nobody's Business" and "Sly Mongoose" through the rambunctious "Hop Merry Hop" sounding like a Caribbean batacuda with Barrington Sadler's penny whistle surfing the waves of percussion, through into ska, rocksteady, reggae, the deep roots of a thunderous "Satta" version,
the slowing stepping binghi of "Salt Lane Gal" culminating in the afrobeat of "Third World" and slow gospel jazz groove of "Djambala". Pure education.

Junior Delgado
Not at all being dismissive but this is a collection of odds and sods from the time the late Junior "Jux" Delgado spent recording for Dennis Brown and UK partner Castro Brown on their joint venture DEB label; any set featuring the work of this great singer must be worthy of consideration, and so it is here when Delgado smoky and sometimes croaky melisma wraps itself around Dennis Brown's classic low-key
protest tune "The Half (that's Never Been Told)", Leroy 'Heptone' Sibbles' "Love Won't Come Easy" and Derrick Harriott's "Tonight'. Recorded at Joe Gibb's Studio, Channel One and Harry J's and mixed by Errol Thompson, Sylvan Morris and Jammy, the tunes here all catch Junior in his prime – especially on his 'Armed Robbery' hit from the , and a couple of the tracks "Don't Study Wrong" and an alternate cut to
"Tonight" also feature producer Dennis Brown on vocals.

Disrupt with Mikey Murka
Empress / Second Hand Man / Dub Version
Mikey Murka started his career back in 1983 with the legendary Unity Sound System in London coming back to notice a couple of year's ago when Honest Jon's released the collection Watch How the People Dancing, featuring alongside Kenny Knots and others. Following the digital tsunami Unity rocked the dancehall with riddims created from
casio keyboards and drum prototype drum machines, a style now picked up and sunk deeper by the likes Disrupt and Rootah of the Leipzig's Jahtari Riddim Force, mainly operating on the basis on a net label. Now Jahtari link with Glasgow's Mungo's Hi Fi for a vinyl release on that sounds' Scotch Bonnet (apparently an elite line of Caribbean hot pepper!) imprint. Mikey's easy rhythm riding singjay style has matured
a lot over the years now residing in a much lower register used to great effect on the jaunty 'Empress' moving from a smooth croon to faster chat as the dub splatter around the mix. 'Second Hand Man' carries a more upbeat swing as Disrupt gets into the wooden percussion thing but mixed with the customary blips and bleeps.

Dub Terror feat Echo Ranks
Shinobi Warrior E.P.

Present Dubbin' the Cave
That's 'jahno' as in the street slang for 'seriously', a French dub-crazed musician locked away in the studio cellar in the 4 track Number One Foundation Studio to reproduce some dubwise old school roots. Which is, of course, not the way to do it no matter how much respect one may profess for the legendary dubmasters of yore. This
lesson is one seemingly re-learned regularly by each new generation that becomes besotted by dub, and all its attendant exotic baggage. So no matter how faithfully the drum sound replicates Sly's revolutionary double drumming militant rockers style down at Channel One, you end up asking: why would anyone choose to listen to this new stuff as against a Revolutionaries or Aggrovators album? In fact, this set ends up
sounding a lot like a tribute to the likes of Dougie Wardrop or Gussie P rather than Jammy or Tubby, as in the jump-up tune 'Champion Bobela'. Perhaps the best advice is to cut singles then first few times out, whatever format, rather than 'put all your dubs in one basket'

Jah Wobble
Chinese Dub EP
Over at his website (www.30hertzrecords.com) Jah Wobble is previewing tracks from a work commissioned recorded for Liverpool 2008 European Capital of Culture due to be premiered in July of this year. A lot more down-home and less glossy that Damon Albarn's Monkey, this is a natural move for Wobble as his wife, Zi Lan Liao, is a classically trained Gu Zheng (Chinese zither) artist and his father-in-law, a long
time Liverpool resident, invented the first Chinese bass – the Da Hu – an instrument that provides the low end that's remarkably missing from that country's astonishing musical scope. This Anglo-Chinese dub band is Wobble's usual collaborators plus the Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra bringing the yang chin (hammered dulcimer), pipa (four
stringed lute), zhong hu (Chinese viola) and a full array of other instrument to the party. The full album will be put later in the year, in the meantime there's a tour this summer complete with singers from Tibet and Yunnan Province, dancers from Hangzhou and Sichuan Opera Mask Changers.

Sugar Minott
Dance Hall Showcase Vol.2
From 1983 this Wackie's reissue finds Lincoln 'Sugar' Minott in top rub-a-dub form with this showcase style release, where the dub follows the vocal, displaying an outrageous confidence in the delivery of the lyrics. At the time he had conquered the UK Lovers Rock scene and was on the verge of crossover success with his "Good Thing Going" chart hit, but his refusal to abandon the young talent under the wing of his
Youthman Promotion organisation virtually ended that career path. Although this is most a spartan drum and bass framework the pre-digital mix gives the sound a warm, rich impact that complements Sugar instantly recognisable style. "Informer" is the main track here and there are two bonus cuts on the rhythm with Jah Batta's DJ version and Little John's singjay effort "Tear down the Dancehall".

Hugh Mundell
The Blessed Youth
Best known for his Augustus Pablo produced album Africa Must Be Free by 1983, the short life and inexplicable death of Hugh Mundell sadly captures the contradictions inherent in the lot of most of Jamaican's reggae musicians. Coached as a youth by some of the genre's primer movers, notably Pablo, coming to bloom early with a series of achingly righteous recordings, going on to self-produce roots music of the highest order only to be senselessly murdered, aged 20, at the hands of an unknown assailant. French label Makasound have done a really excellent job in compiling tracks from the self-produced sets Time & Place and Blackman's Foundation with some of the cuts being rare extended or DJ versions cuts of the album tracks and "Rastafari Tradition", the album opener, co-produced with Augustus Pablo is taken from the melodica king's Earth's Rightful Ruler. There are so many noteworthy tracks here, but highlighting a couple of the lesser know tunes emphasises the point: extended in the version "Stop 'em Jah" has a dubwise rhythm track right out of the textbook that is King Tubby
Meets Rockers Uptown with a plaintive but impassioned vocal whereas "Feeling Alright" is an early entry into a dancehall rub-a-dub style with a few, for the time, modern efx thrown into the mix. Mixed by Pablo and Sylvan Morris at King Tubby's, an unmissable release.

Junior Murvin
Muggers in the Street
Lee 'Scratch' Perry knew a good rhythm after he created one and versioned 'Police and Thieves' many times; who then could criticise Junior Murvin, the singer with whom the rhythm is most associated, for a 1984 re-visit to the title track for his update on the theme 'Muggers in the Street'. Murvin's 'almost falsetto' is one of the most
distinctive vocal sounds in all of reggae, but strangely given the Perry connect also one of the most under-recorded. This set followed one cut for Mikey Dread a couple of years earlier and, although not approaching the heights of his debut, contains a few top notch tunes – especially those where Murvin is joined by Al Campbell and Tony Tuff on harmonies. The lover's cut 'Think Twice' creates a feel more like
Chicago or Philly rather than Kingston and the earlier 'Jahoviah's Children' has a horn section to mellow out the Roots Radics insistent trademark thud.

Prince Allah
Bosrah Dub Plate Mix / Dub
There's a slew of Tapper Zukie produced seven inch single re-presses around at the moment, in fact this one actually appeared briefly on Yabby U's Prophets label in 1975 before its later release on Stars. Of course the tune 'Bosrah' and its version are classics but this one is a different mix and so justifies the 'dub plate' i.e. special, tag, with Pat Kelly, from the school of King Tubby, on the hornless mix
squeezing out all the reverbed and echoed efx until the sonics are totally separated from their originating instrumentation. Short, sweet and a one-off, a good dub stands by itself.

Judge Sympathy: The Birth of Trojan
Hopefully a sign of things to come, the mighty Trojan stirs once more with this really quite beautiful box set release celebrating the original Trojan – producer and 'hard man' Duke Reid who took the name from the truck he used to ferry his sound system to gigs in the Jamaica of the early sixties. All singles here are replicas of eleven singles that originally appeared on the label back in 1967, classic rocksteady sides produced by the man himself and including tunes that have attained an immortal status amongst reggae fans such as 'Why Birds Follow Spring' by Alton Ellis & The Flames, 'Love Is A Treasure' by Freddie McKay and '(I'm A) Loving Pauper' from Dobby Dobson. There are also plenty of 'b' sides from the Supersonics, the label house
band led by Tommy McCook on sojourn from Studio One.

Various Artists
Lead with the Bass – Volume 3
The boys from Zion Train have demonstrated that not only can a dub-based operation prove successful over a long period but also that it can be achieved by an unstinting support for fellow artists along the way; their recent award of a Jamaican Reggae Grammy for their last album Live As One was well deserved. The tunes here are selected by Neil Perch from his DJ sets for the Abassi Hi Power Sound System, the
criteria being 'heavy'. Japan, Italy, Germany are represented as well as the UK. Moa Anbessa from Venice, said to be the centre of roots reggae in Italy maybe because of the number of roots reggae bands from the area or may because Haile Selassie visited twice, are a collective but represented by the light skipping vocals of Prince David on 'Evil Fi Burn' dubbed as 'Forward Dub'; its always good to hear the Ital
Horns here on 'Purification' and its dubplate version; other contributions from Abassi Allstars, Vibronics, Dubdadda, Dub Terror and from Tokyo, the University of Roots and Culture Sound System.