ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION
FORTRESS EUROPE - REMIXES
RINSE IT OUT VISA7107
Plenty of observation and question, but short on solution. That's the style over time for most agitprop lyrics and there's no change here. Sonically ADF are a much more interesting proposition, on top of the original AMS mix comes Moabit's broken, blistered beats and Bollywood samples chopping up the chant, DJ Mehdi's swirling technorai jump up and, most striking, Jazzwad's bass-heavy wired remix reducing the vocal chant to a minimum whilst upping the doom levels to max - despite the over-used siren and middle-east wailing effects.
DIFFERENT RECORDS 7" VINYL DIFF001
Adrian Sherwood's remix of 3Head's Warning was the standout track on Chainstore Massacre - last year's round-up of future On U Sound material. This new single, limited to a thousand 12" copies has Black Star Liner stepping up for remix duties, stripping the original vocal mainly to the repeated title - no bad thing as the original mix has the drama and structure of an deservedly obscure prog rock anthem - what emerges is firmly in the mould of the nu dub dance style veering neatly out of the thudding orbit of trance, shiny, crisp beats under a righteous vocal line.
ORIGINAL BLUE RECORDINGS 1970 - 1979
Though there may be many claimants to the title of reggae's sweetest vocalist few have the pedigree and output of Cornel Campbell whose catalogue runs from Studio One, through the 70's patronage of Bunny Lee up to his recent startling collaboration with Rhythm & Sound. Here Moll-Selekta return to the high standards created by their Joseph Cotton and Alton Ellis sets with a quality compilation of the singer's tunes from the seventies, mostly self-penned but with a few Jamaican classics thrown in such as Greg Isaacs' Once Ago, John Holt's I am Your Man and Ernest Wilson's Undying Love in addition to covers of soul originals from Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Cornel's role model, Sam Cooke.
METEOSOUND/SELECT CUTS 12" VINYL METEO 007
Berlin labels Shitkatapult and Meteosound share an office so its convenient for Lars Fenin to cross the room, shed the techno straightjacket, don a shiny new d&b suit and knock out this crackling slice of modern dub. Of the four cuts here the title track provides the key with a rapid halfbeat bassdrum kicking the jerking chord progression into shape, the two versions of Woods include a Meteo remix on this slippery, sliding dub skip and a jump, whereas Tube-Dub reverts to more anonymous downtempo fare. This release begins a new series of twelve inch specials wherein dub will be rediscovered in different styles.
DUB PLATES FROM THE ELEPHANT HOUSE VOLUME 2
DIFFERENT DRUMMER DIFCD/LP23
Rapidly climbing the European premier division of desirable remix artists, Birmingham's G Corp continue to step up the pace with this new set. The uptempo opener, Clever Kid, adopts some Timbaland nuances with the plucked strings and gypsy synths; All Night Baby follows on in a sexy steppers mode - two words not often seen together! Scatter seems to utilise the vocal opening of Wailing Souls' Row Fisherman Row, before settling into a Dub Syndicate influence sample-led skank. Accomplished and confident in turning away from the stricter reggae-based forms, this is G Corp's strongest set to date.
JA-MAN ALL STARS
IN THE DUB ZONE
BLOOD AND FIRE BAFCD041
To their credit Blood and Fire have never solely concentrated on "easy shots" in the reissue market, indeed Steve Barrow has often claimed some of the label's less commercially successful releases as his personal favourites, such as the Impact All Stars album. Good then to see the backing for this one from Dudley "Manzie" Swaby, Pablo's brother and sometimes known as Ja-Man. The set is made up from two separate albums 1977's Ja-Man Dub and 1980's King's Dub with four b-side mixes from 7" releases as a bonus. The mood of the music is heavy with a number of versions of popular rhythms from the time, it's largely a drum and bass thing with the odd stabs of keyboard, horn or guitar in the mix, and as the tunes move from the seventies to the eighties the style becomes dancehall rub'a'dub - rawer and tougher for the times. DJ vocals were cut on many of these rhythms by General Echo on his Rocking & Swing album - watch out for its reissue on Steve's DJ only label Microphonic due to launch this year.
THE RHYTHM KING
MAXIMUM PRESSURE MPCD/LP003
After setting the standards with their Bobby Digital and Xterminator sets, Maximum Pressure establishes itself as the premier dancehall reissue label with this immaculate selection from the massive vaults of the once Prince, and now King, Jammy. Whilst the feel of Digital B was shiny and modern, Xterminator classy and tuneful, Jammy comes across as undisputed ruler of the dancehall. Any cribbing at the selection would be churlish as classic rhythms follow undiscovered or rare gems. Two acapella paeans lifted from dubplates, one from Brian and Tony Gold and the other from Little John, both hailing Jammy as the don are a real treat. If pushed, the standouts tracks have got to be Eccleton Jarrett's instruction to his selector Rock Them One by One and the excellent roots outing from the (unusually for a reggae artist) under-recorded Little Twitch Devil Send You Come.
MOSSMAN vs. MR.TSUNAMI
MOSSMAN vs. MR.TSUNAMI AT DUB CORNER
Montreal's Moss Raxlen returns from his heavyweight match with the World Bank from the year 2000 for a friendlier studio-based tussle with a Mr.Tsunami. Clearly a possessor of a large and unruly collection of Jamaican 7"s, disparate channels of influence run deep into Mossman's studio processes with an early Perry style impinging on Churros Dub and a later strain of Perry taking over for the following track So Good! Moon Blues and its dub version stop this side of crossover and locate the sound more along the sweeter lines recently occupied by Japan's Dry & Heavy. Avoiding the kind of vacuous experimentation sometimes associated with nu dub, Mossman elects to go for tunes - it never fails!
RHYTHM & SOUND w/ LOVE JOY
BURIAL MIX BM10
The rumour that Markus and Moritz had been using some of the old Wackies artists to voice a bunch of new rhythms thankfully turns out to be correct with the arrival of this beautifully taut, slowed-down steppers tune showcasing Claudette Brown of the Love Joys with an all too common tale of domestic despair and betrayal. Is that bass sound a guitar or a drum? Even more physical than their customary deep vinyl cuts, this is a sound as compelling as anything R&S have produced and ranks alongside their Cornel Campbell outing, King in my Empire, as their best work to date.
TALL AND THE TOUCHERS / I ROY / BONGO HERMAN
POWER VERSION 71
FLASHFORWARD RECORDS 10" VINYL EP001
Early 70s stone killer production from Lloyd Charmers not seen around in many a day now receiving a quality repress in 10" vinyl format. The rhythm is the kind of prime funky skank that plays so well these days, with the main vocal Touching the President happening to be an organ-driven impenetrable rap with irresistible whistling followed by its equally wacky dub, whilst Vice President, the Bongo Herman rumbling instru-dub of I Roy's Prime Minister, concludes yet another essential reissue in the current torrent of 10"s.
UP, BUSTLE AND OUT
500 CC REVOLUTIONARY 7" VINYL (NO MATRIX NUMBER)
For the majority of their 10 year musical journey U, B & O have cruised around the Caribbean with a preference for Spanish landings. Now they have moved on to Kingston to explore fresh directions with this first single on their own label, now independent from their long time Ninja Tune home. The warm, dense, live percussion-based sound of their previous output is put to good use as Ras Jabulani, from Black Roots, slow chants a message of roots positivity on top of a viscous Rockers' style tune with melodica weaving in and out the mix and anchored by the live double bass of Portishead's Jim Barr. Prefacing Urban Evacuation, a new album of similar material due early this year, this is a brave step away from easier and hipper latin grooves towards the altogether more challenging prospect of the sonic minefield of reggae.
U ROY & VARIOUS ARTISTS
A milestone in popular music, transcending genre, at once joyful and revolutionary, setting standards that few since have been able to emulate. In the late sixties U Roy was the toaster of choice for Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi and was on the mic as Tubbs split the musical atom with his creation of dub in the dance. U Roy went on to chat over a series of hugely popular Duke Reid sides thereby defining the art of the modern DJ, at one time holding five places in the Jamaican top ten. This set is revamped from the original Trojan UK releases with the bonus of a second CD with the original vocal sources plus a few prime instrumental versions. Everybody knows Tide is High but here's another 28 sides of equal quality, with Tommy McCook's Supersonics in charge of the rhythms and the sweet vocals of the Paragons, the Melodians, the Silvertones, the Techniques, Alton Ellis, Ken Parker - to name a few - providing admirable foils for the number one DJ.
HI-FIDELITY DUB SESSIONS 4
This series is central to the whole philosophy at Guidance, the label which has bravely and steadfastly maintained its dubwise trajectory since its inception. What's more this volume is probably the strongest in the series with the mix of reggae big names Cutty Ranks and Horace Andy in amongst doyens of the downbeat Richard Dorfmeister, Groove Armada and Smith & Mighty and queue more recent head noddin' arrivals, most promising being Boozoo Bajou. Maybe not designed to shake the walls of Babylon but should insinuate its many fissures with ease - a guaranteed introduction to the smoother sides of modern dub.
ROCK ME IN VAIN
WHITE LABEL 12" PRE-RELEASE
R'n'B plus hip hop acapellas cut and splices on top of classic reggae rhythms new and old, this kind of stuff is driving the dance crazy these days and its not hard to see why. Top track is Michael Jackson's Rock Me licked over a dub of the Wailer's lusciously lugubrious Waiting in Vain. There's other pieces floating right now such as a Whitney in Vain EP, utilising the lost one's It's Not Right on the same rhythm, and a new fix on Tweet's delicious Oops!. These kind of cuts may blow out like roman candles, but then are good to stash and bring out again when the fuss has died down.