BULLWACKIES ALL STARS w/ NEW BREED BAND
JAMAICAN SUPER DUB
The Reckless Breed in Jamaica become the New Breed in New York City for this sought after piece reissued in all the glory of its original tacky packaging, but this time on CD too. With Clive Hunt's intricate flute cut of the Studio One cornerstone rhythm Rockfort Rock and a strident steppers version of Junior Delgado's Upsetter classic Sons of Slaves, it would be too easy to miss the quality of the other five tracks on this slight but unmissable early eighties reissue. The musicians on "Jamaican Super Dub" are Itopia augmented by Leroy Sibbles and Jackie Mittoo, with the legendary Ras Menelik on percussion, Annette Brissette takes credits on drums - with her solo album providing three of the outstanding cuts here. Discos from Barrington Spence and Lloyd Hemmings supply more dubbing material for the Wackies mixing desk. Other versions are generated from Sugar Minott, and Leroy Sibbles' version of Lionel Richie's Truly, plus rhythms behind yet-unissued vocal tracks by Milton Henry and The Shades.
CARLTON & THE SHOES
LOVE ME FORVER
STUDIO ONE PSOCD003
The debut appearance on CD for this all-time vocal classic cannot go unremarked. Over the years the pitted and bumped surface on countless Jamaican vinyl pressings has done nothing to diminish the sublime harmonies, the wonderfully crafted lyrics and the timeless rhythms that occupy its grooves. Not only this, but the new silvery version comes with two bonus songs including Never Let Go, one of the most versioned rhythm in all reggae and original Skatalite Johnny "Dizzy" Moore's instrumental takes on two tracks including the title.
ON U SOUND ONUCD/LP1005
Just as the entire catalogue of the On U Master Recordings is about to be deleted comes this selection of rare recordings by nu dub's foundation band or, to be more accurate these days, the touring vehicle for Style Scott. For although new albums still appear from Dub Syndicate the templates largely conform to the radical pattern created from the late eighties onwards. Most of these tracks appeared between "Stoned Immaculate" and "Echomania" when Scotty and Sherwood were playing out with tunes literally whacked out the day before, in other words its classic Dub Syndicate. The well-loved Night Train occupying centre stage, two versions of tracks from the sadly departed and always underrated Andy Fairley point us back to his overlooked "System Vertigo" album and the bonus is an unreleased dub on Bim Sherman's Across The Red Sea.
LENKY w/ VARIOUS ARTISTS
Steve "Lenky" Marsden's Diwali was 2002's supreme rhythm by a clear distance and will be recognised as such by the dance mafia external to dancehall when they finally catch up. This follow-up lacks Diwali's urgency, shock and handclaps, but retains a clear Lenky pedigree with a drive and direction of its own - like a monster wind-up mouse on a hard wood floor, which way is this thing going to go next? Like so many of reggae's old school digital innovators Lenky is a riddim auteur and masterminds the subjugation of a series of class JA acts to the domination of his beats. If you cannot take the ruff with the smooth then best to avoid the nineteen vocal and DJ takes which veer wildly from the preposterously raw - Elephant Man's Give it Her Good and Spragga Benz' Dat She Like - through the purely physical and mind-numbingly dumb Shake It from Zumjay to the clear champion Buccaneer whose Price Tag I would settle for on 7" vinyl with the version on the flip.
BSI RECORDS BSI 029-2
As Bryn "Muslimgauze" Jones opens up this album with a virtually straight mix of the Stalag rhythm a blissful groove state is induced for those unaware of what is inevitably about to arrive - crunching proto-glitch as practiced by the natural possessor of the nasty beat. And so it is duly delivered with Nommos Descending and four more Systemwide tunes fed through the underground machines of darkest Swinton. His latter-day emergence as a textural don no doubt amuses his friends as much as it would Bryn himself, who in his early days carried his entire catalogue in a carrier bag. These tracks were originally released a long time ago - in the last century, 1999 - on a series of 12" singles. Sound Secretion as the spore of Mark Stewart before he discovered rave and the continent and Systemwide resolutely occupying the dub territories of the Pacific North West.
NINEY THE OBSERVER
AT KING TUBBY'S - DUB PLATE SPECIALS 1973-1975
JAMAICAN RECORDINGS JRCD011
The output of the Jamaican Recordings label has been at best patchy, promising a lot but disappointing in the delivery. The quality control function in the reggae business is largely distinguished by its absence and very little is usually left unissued. But this album seems like the real deal claiming to feature dubplates that Tubby cut for playing out on his own Home Town Hi-Fi, mainly as beds for DJs to stretch out on. For sure there are fourteen recognisable Niney rhythms all mixed down with nuances varying from the original version. Most outstanding amongst these are the rhythms originally created for Dennis Brown, many coming in raw drum and bass versions with maximum tweakage on EFX - notably No More Dub (No More Will I Roam) which comes with a different bassline and Dub With Tubby a slowed down take Westbound Train on which Tubbs gives the hi-hat his signature slicing effect. A real treat is the early dubwise version of a rhythm that was to become internationally known as The Right Time when the Mighty Diamonds gave it the lyrics it deserved, here titled Swallow Field & Dub.
UP, BUSTLE AND OUT
With this new set UBO fully deliver on the promise of the two earlier singles that signalled their change in direction away from previous Hispanic excursions and direct into the heart of Jamaica. Both Runaway Hague and Wild Majesty are on the album, the former a reference to trumpeter Andy whose upbeat showcase track is one of the many highlights. UBO increase the ratio of vocals with the introduction of guests Ras Jabulani from Black Roots, Jamaican DJ Mexican (who logged into Wire's Best of 2002 Dub chart alongside The Bug and Rootsman) and Roni Size's sidekick MC Nicky Blaze. Also new is the addition of warm effects built into the studio from scratch Tubby's electronic engineering style which, together with flamenco guitar, double bass, percussion and trumpet, takes the feeling back to early Studio One acoustics - circa Juks Incorporated - but denser and dubbier. Disembodies wisps and ghostly snatches of familiar basslines, melodies and lyrics float through most of the tracks. The title tune picks up Scratch's City Too Hot theme with what sounds like A Darker Shade of Black sunk six feet down in the mix. The central cut though is the scary Hooded Hordes linked with its dub version, which globalises the context of the Specials' Ghost Town for serious times.
AFTER THE DUB
This set's so slinky it slipped through the net in 2002. That Portugal is a European outpost becoming known for its love of reggae is a fact happily beyond logic but Última label boss José Gueddes proves as fine a selector as stalks the dancehall in this collection of contemporary dub dancers. The long-lost Big Bud reappear with 2000's Runaway, dzihan & Kamien's Smile is remixed by Aromabar, there's a stomping West Coast jig from Migs & Jelly and a liquid flute version by Butch Cassidy Sound System of the Red Hook label - is this named after the great beer? But pride of place is a throbbing disco mix of Prophecy Reveal by the Ballistic Brothers' where the vocal sample is lifted from Mr.Bojangles' DJ version of Culture's Two Sevens Clash - a cut found on the recent Pressure Sounds' Mighty Two dub set.
FUNKY KINGSTON - REGGAE DANCEFLOOR GROOVES 1968 - 1974
IMPACT! - REGGAE, FUNK & SOUL FROM IMPACT
UNIVERSAL SOUNDS USCD/LP18
A tale of two labels both flourishing in reggae's perplexing ecology. Whereas Trojan feeds on itself, and some would say with liberal sides of take-away, Soul Jazz and its sister label Universal Sounds have become deeper feeders. Vincent Chin and son Clive are now untouchable as owners of VP, the New York label and largest reggae distributor of reggae in the US. But thirty years ago they founded one of the most influential of Jamaican labels, Impact!, and were pivotal in fostering the career of the young Augustus Pablo. Back then though most money was made tracking the US market and so here we get a stack of back in fashion skanky funk, fuzz and wah wah evoking memories of when just walking down the street became an art form. Inevitably the instrumentals come out the rockingest with Skin, Flesh & Bones' Do It Til You're Satisfied, the wonderfully arch Guns In The Ghetto from Broadway & Randy's All Stars with the MC coming on like clapped out social worker and Jackie Mittoo's take on Soul and Inspiration. But for sheer class check Donovan Carless' version of William de Vaughn's Be Thankful (For What You've Got), it takes some nerve to cover such a great tune but it's carried off in true JA style.
"Funky Kingston" starts off with ..(as J.B. might say)..you got it! Toots' Funky Kingston! So this set struggles a lot more to chunk up the funk and there's some all too slack shots that must always remain close to the top of a big pile of tunes down at Trojan HQ, a shame when there's such a massive catalogue to trawl. If education is paid for - then demand quality, if the appeal is to reggae newcomers then the obvious thought must be "what's the fuss?" Nevertheless the Chosen Few were well named and their covers of Funky Stuff, as Reggae Stuff, and Isaac Hayes' Do Your Thing raise the temperature at either end of the set, and if anyone discovers Lee "Scratch" Perry through the inclusion of Jungle Lion then this collection will be fondly remembered.
WE ARE GETTING BAD - THE SOUND OF PHASE ONE
MOTION RECORDS FASTCD/LP013
The work of producer Roy Francis has been poorly represented in the reggae reissue market with the notable exception of Blood and Fire's booming discomix selection from a few years ago ("Children of Jah - The Chantells & Friends 1977-1979"). As if by rare design the two sets do not share any tracks. Also, a couple of Phase One dub albums tend to appear occasionally and promptly disappear with little promotion and, more crucially, no background notes or information about the origin of the music. This album fills another gap in documenting more of the remaining output from this great little roots label. Roy Francis started out as a freelance producer and used the mixing talents of Jo Jo Hookim at Channel One and Errol Thompson at Joe Gibbs' studio. The output of Phase One more closely traced the templates punched out by the all-conquering Hookim brothers' imprint from which its name was derived in tribute. First time on CD for many of these cuts with a couple of unreleased DJ cuts as a tease for the collectors. The Chantells, Heptones, Jah Berry, Dean Fraser and Tabby are spread into a sprinkling of versions alternately thunderous and sweet - just the way it should be - with Steve Boswell's wickedly brooding I Am Getting Bad and its fierce dub guaranteeing a well-deserved "essential" tag.