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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dub Review - March 2009

Bloom 1
Kindred Spirits 12”/mp3
Mike Kivits aka DJ Aardvarck has been plugging away across ‘x’ amount of dance sub-genres over the past few years, it’s advisable not to research these things too deeply as the exponential growth of less than average variants of still available music is too depressing a prospect, that includes so-called ‘breaks’. Good then that his latest incarnation he at last has found his home. Last year’s Pig Style on
Nod Navigators rescued him from house anonymity with a set of rampaging beats from all over the place; on this one he stays slowed down juggling classic dubwise loops and roots acapellas into juicily repetitious beats. Tracks titled 1, 2, 3 and 4 tend not to generate a frenzy of anticipation and it’s a smart tracking choice to have 3 and 4 after 1 and 2, if you follow, as these fall back into lazier generics. Bloom is the title of a promised series of dubstyle experiments with a woozier low-end pegging it as a dubstep deviation its will no doubt generate a little DJ heat

The Bass Has Left the Building
Jahtari CD/LP

The follow-up to 2007’s monumental Foundation Bit; appearing on London’s Werk Records that album rose monster-like from the depths to create a stir amongst the nu dub crowd, like more rough-hewn version from a Chain Reaction lineage but closer to the origin of dub with rips of Tubby’s, Wackie’s, Joe Gibbs and the Upsetter. This sequel distils Jan Gleichmar’s other more nerdy influences of 8bit games, bad
sci-fi, heavyweight first generation keyboards and squeaky voiced retro robots into the bouncing bass of early digi reggae. "Bruce Lee" is an old Commodore C64 soundtrack that will have dubheads scouring charity shop bins, the visual equivalent of “21st Century Planet Smashas” and “its More Fun to Dubpute” lays somewhere between Captain Scarlet and Terminator III. The album comes with a sumo collage by
Jimmy Cauty and the vinyl version becomes more desirable with different artwork and the ‘bass city landscape" cover from the CD replicated as a huge fold-out. 8Bit-ChipHop meets digital roots in a dub vortex. Mastering is by Berlin’s Dubplates & Mastering

Universal Egg 12”
Following last year’s album So Many Reverbs to Cross, out on Polish reggae label Karrot Kommando, Ragana have this splendidly titled EP out via friends Zion Train. Formed from the musicians of Paprika Korps with the addition of Lion Vibrations’ lead singer their sound is a late eighties roots remnant with a analogue dubbed mix capturing the band’s live set; the four female vocal tracks here are reminiscent of
the Trebunia Family’s work with Adrian Sherwood and Norman Grant of the Twinkle Brothers but with the UK’s Crispy Horns replacing the hill country violins!. Vocalist Jagha utilises the “a-a-a-a” refrain from a thousand reggae tunes as the title and chorus to the opening lovers tune, “Where this love goes” has a more spongy rhythm with lingering reverbs on the vocal lines. Produced and mixed by Jarek "Smok" Smak at the Studio As One in Warsaw it could be described as old fashioned,
but more positively old school.

Cornell Campbell
Rock My Soul – Sip a Cup Showcase Vol.7
Sip a Cup LP
For those who can’t get enough of the mature, sweet vocal sounds of roots veteran Cornell Campbell his new set in Gussie P.’s showcase series has him in fine form with four tunes and five dubs. Mafia and Fluxy provide the rhythms, Buttons is on the bone and there’s a Sip a Cup choir for harmonies with Mike Brooks, Robbie V and Campbell himself. Included amongst three originals is a fine re-cut of one of
Campbell’s classic sides for Bunny Lee, backed by Soul Syndicate and dubbed by Tubby, the moody and peculiarly titled “Jah Jah Mi Horn Yah”, its dubbed out twice by Gussie P with the bass getting deeper on “Horn Yah Dub 33” – maybe there were thirty three takes. Danny Red, Matic Horns, Johnny Clarke, Earl 16 and Robbie V also have showcases in the series whose artwork is designed in semi pre-release style with
an open sleeve for the centres but labelled up with information and credits on stickers.

Glenmore Brown
Dub from the South East
Pantomine LP
The excellent trilogy of Glen Brown side issued by Greensleeves is long gone and Steve Barrow’s Rhythm Master series for Hot Pot seems to have stalled; so to the rescue is the recent series of legitimate 7” vinyl revives pressed up and cut deep in London, also the re-appearance of this peerless set last seen in the late eighties. A clutch of Tubby mixed dubstrumental versions to some of the producer’s
best loved tunes, pressed in limited runs between 1972 and 1976 these are now much sought after by collectors. All the cuts are outstanding and King Tubby is clearly enjoying himself on the mix, especially on the nyahbinghi rolling “Barro Street Drums” (from Glen Brown’s “High Holborn St. Song), the splendidly titled “Meditating or Own Way of Life” (from Roman Stewart’s “Never too Young to Learn” and on “Natty
Lead the Way (version)” sometimes known as “Rhythm of the Rebels” where Glen Brown blows sweet melodica whilst Tubby side swipes the echo spring with one hand and disciplines the reverb with the other. Don’t miss this whilst it’s around.

Various Artists
100% Dynamite – Dancehall Reggae Meets Rap in New York City
Soul Jazz Records CD/2LP
This new compilation from the Soul Jazz boys and girls opens up all sorts of new possibilities. Certainly these tunes from the early to mid nineties have a lot more happening in the mix than the home-grown Jamaican product of the time with samples crowding the raps and vocal. Most the artists represented here were “born foreign” back in Jamaica but imbued with the culture and language of their adopted land. Edley
Shine from Born Jamericans delivers a solo cut of "Informer Fe Dead" dating from a 1994 Delicious Vinyl piece, Super C whoops up like in a minimal Zebra (a Jazzbo digital protégé) style on fuzzy “Sleng Teng” with a metronomic “word up” vocal sample ticking through the tune, Wackies’ in house DJ Jah Batta expounds a “Style and Fashion” approach to life and Ugly Man’s “DJ de Yah” delivers a UK style fast chat name check on the “Peanie Peanie” rhythm. The Roots Radics work over “Cuss
Cuss” with the Malcolm X sample "no such thing as a non-violent revolution" that must have come from drummer style Scott’s association with Keith le Blanc and On U Sound. Maybe the next in the series could be Rap Meets Dancehall Reggae in New York City because Jah know the tunes are there.

Peter Tosh
Legalize it / Equal Rights
EMI Records CD
Following the demise of the original Wailers line-up Peter Tosh threw himself into a frenzy of recording as much of personal creativity had to find outlet only through release via his Jamaican label Intel-Diplo (derived from “intelligent diplomat”). His deal with Richard Branson’s Virgin label, at the time gorging on an abundance of reggae talent in the search for another Marley, brought forth two albums; in 1976
Legalise It and the following year Equal Rights. Whereas the first displayed Tosh’s scope, mixing political (anti-“Shitstem”) tunes with affecting lovers tunes, Equal Rights was a more militant affair with its featuring of “Get Up Stand Up” laying claim to the song that many thought to be Marley’s own from the Wailer’s Burnin’ album, plus the title track, perhaps his best tune “Stepping Razor” an adaptation of
earlier folk-based lyric, “Apartheid” and “Downpressor Man” – the mood was unrelenting. Tosh retained the Wailers’ rhythm section of the Barrett brothers and all tunes were engineered by Karl Pitterson, so the sound was squeakily shiny and modern at the time with Al Anderson restrained wah-wah a signature sound. Unfortunately the later mega-corp acquisition of these tunes has meant that the dubs have been largely consigned to the attention of collectors in the singles

The Mohawks
The Champ
Vampi Soul CD
A lovingly crafted re-issue of the only album created under the name of the Mohawks, a session band led by KPM Sound Library king Alan Hawkshaw on Hammond, guitarist Alan Parker, bassist Keith Mansfield and on holiday from the Shadows drummer Brian Bennett. Out in 1968 it was an early release from North London’s Pama label, launched by the three Palmer brothers – Carl, Harry and Jeff – to showcase bluebeat
and rock-steady to a UK audience. An early example of proto-funk at a time when pre-reggae Jamaican music was played out in clubs alongside soul sides from the States. Title track “The Champ” has since become a hip-hop sample staple (De la Soul, Erik B, Big Daddy Kane etc), although obviously rooted in Lowell Fulsom’s “Tramp” as immortalised by Carla Thomas, but with Hawkshaw’s organ grinding out an
irresistible vamp improv the tune is made his own. The line-up is basically a UK home-grown version of Booker T & the MGs or the Meters tightly wound and let rip with no apology.

Tommy McCook & the Supersonics
Top Secret
Techniques LP
A Winston Riley produced set of early instrumental reggae re-issued on vinyl for the first time. Good news for admirers of Tommy McCook and his work as the album sleeve art is a stone classic with McCook and band captured in full swing resplendent in vintage monochrome tint. The album appeared with four extra tracks for a short time ten years ago on Beatville Records out of Holland, but in these days of financial uncertainty vinyl is always the best investment reggae wise and the key tunes are here; standouts being “Jungle Skank” with swooning brass harmonies over a lazily chugging rhythm, the far east sound of “Wild Bunch” with an Upsetter-like rhythm punch and “Beirut” sounding like Booker T at Studio One. As sax man for the Skatalites McCook was able to assemble ska greats Lloyd Knibbs, Lloyd Brevett,
Lynn Tate, Jackie Mittoo and trumpet legend Bobby Ellis for this incarnation of the Supersonics, the one time house band at Duke Reid's Treasure Isle Studio where this fine LP was recorded.