100% OF DUB
SELECT CUTS EFA33405 CD/LP
These twenty tracks are licensed from Fatman and the inevitable Bunny Lee - just how much of his day does he devote to doing deals and signing contracts? - or maybe these were sourced from Blood & Fire for whom Select Cuts provides the remix albums. In any case the set is a fine selection of Tubby mixes dating through to the early eighties, the latter marked by the appearance of our old favourite, the syndrum!. But the real good news is that the set's also cut on double vinyl. As I have argued in the past there will never be a Tubbys Primer so the advice is look for good places to start, and this is one. Invasion has the legendary acid intro leading to massive horn blast and as cavernous echo and spacey a chopping guitar as Tubby ever twisted out of the board, a version of Little Roy's Tribal War is dubbed alongside Skylarking, Crazy Baldhead and a host of other classics. But the real treats here are Crime Wave, a killer nyabinghi led dub that leads to "King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grassroots of Dub" and Lambs' Bread Herb whose warbling flute-led intro betrays the presence of Tommy McCook and his storming steppers instrumental cut to Yabby You's Death Trap that in turn leads back to Blood & Fire's impeccable double CD set "Jesus Dread" (BAFCD021) where more of this magnificent music can be found.
BOOK OF EXIT - DUB CHAMBER 4
The presence of Ethiopian chanteuse Ejigayehu Shibabaw a.k.a. GiGi seems to have instilled a lyrical and much mellower overall approach in Bill Laswell for this continuation of the Dub Chamber/Sacred System series split between Axiom and ROIR. A departure from previous rumbling bass workouts, especially where GiGi's voice is present as on the stunning opening vocal Ethiopia, where she displays a pure quality like some of the great UK female folk singers. This soon gives way to the album's more dominant mood of stretched meditative instrumental dub jams amongst Laswell, Karsh Kale on drums and tablas and oldtime sidekick Aiyb Dieng filling other percussion duties. Credit for melodica is unassigned but its there to denote another Ethiopian location on the wandering Shashamani, the following track, Bati, kicks in with a more insistent beat with a layer of dubbed vocals but rather than jump up the feel is hypnotic. The rambling final cut, Jerusalem weighs in at nearly thirteen minutes, comes as something of a disappointment as it would have been good to get through the album without being forced to consider the issues raised here.
THE ROOTSMAN: SHOWCASE
METEOSOUND METEO 009 12" VINYL
The Rootsman finally synthesises the varying strands of all his previous work with this his finest release to date. One side has Horace Andy, recovered from his latest Massive Attack nightmare, with beautifully delivered, self-penned My World is Spinning. Opening with sampled Indian mouth music, as taught to us by Sheila Chandra, this brooding cut has Horace in his well-developed pleading and confused lover role, delivering a restrained vocal until his desperation get too much to bear. The rhythm fits into the current fascination with the most mysterious of sub-continents with tabla propelling the insistent beat over sub-patterns and spectral vocal wails. Shines and glistens like a bowl of fresh fruit. Not far behind is the flip, also with dub, where Bobby Blue faithfully versions Dennis Brown's Blood, Sweat and Tears on an urgent but doomy new rhythm.
NEVER TRUST A HIPPY
REAL WORLD CDRWDJ110
In typically perverse style, just as On U Sound is set for resuscitation, its founder releases his debut album after 25 years in the business on another label - and true to form, bites the hand that feeds with an insulting titling. Originally conceived as a remix project, the idea had to be rejected due to the sacred and devotional nature of the source material. What survived emerge as two of the set's standout tracks. Keith Le Blanc's live drums set up Dead Man Smoking and drive the shambling drunken master sampled vocals and palm wine guitar licks of S.E.Rogie. The shimmering remix of Temple of Sound's Paradise of Nada finds Harry Beckett's trumpet compressing time. Sherwood has managed to fast forward his rhythms by ten years with the absorption of all that's happened in dancehall. Young gun Lenky squeezes into the comfort of the pod-sized On U studio to crank out Hari Up Hari and Processed World. A couple of listens and its got to be Sly and Robbie providing the rhythms for both Haunted by Love - a jazzy Latin beat with languid guitar that deserves a minimal dub remix paring away the unnecessary jarring vocal samples and Strange Turn - a more frenetic affair where On U clearly clashes with Taxi. Bubblers and Jazzwad are also helping out on rhythm duties. On this evidence there's argument that Sherwood should look more to his own career development as an artist than spread his concentrations too thin.
SIR COXSONE SOUND
KING OF THE DUB ROCK
An independent ex-pat Jamaican sound system operator from the late sixties, Lloyd Coxsone ran London's predominant sound system through the seventies. His successful residency at Carnaby Street's Roaring Twenties Club provided the base for a record labels Tribesman and Outernational, and the launch of UK Lovers Rock with his production of Louisa Marks' Caught You in a Lie - a dub cut is included here. This set dates from 1975 and was an essential dub album of the time. It wears well, with sharp Tubbys mixes on a few Gussie Clarke tunes, some with unidentified melodica - an essential prerequisite of the era. For reasons unknown a few of the mixes on this reissue differ from the original release, the good news is no detriment results. Watch out for a CD occasionally appearing collected with the Part Two follow-up from a few years later - this one has the original track listings.
GUNS OF NAVARONE - THE BEST OF THE SKATALITES
Totally and absolutely essential for anyone who claims to care about music. And, remarkably, the first time Trojan have devoted a collection to this unparalleled group of musicians - and re-mastered too! The Skatalites came together to create the first truly indigenous music of Jamaica, albeit one that in the soloing of its individual musicians betrayed a deep understanding of jazz and the entire gamut of popular music. Only over the last few years have the talents of Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond et begun to be recognised as having any worth at all amongst non-reggae fans - let alone stand alongside some of the greats. This is as a result of ska being created for dancing on an island that was part of the then British Empire - at around the same time Coltrane and other foundations players were on the chitlin' circuit with the likes of Illinois Jacquet, Earl Bostic and other r'n'b bands. So by all means go out and but this excellent record, but more specifically I would urge that if any of the remaining original Skatalites are orbiting near you then give the support and respect that is due.
THE SMALL AXE PEOPLE
SMALL AXE PEOPLE SAP002
JAZZBO T AT THE CONTROLS
ORIGINAL VERSION IN DUB
SMALL AXE PEOPLE SAP003
Titles such as Wall Crawler, Skank the Plank and Bubble and Squeak give away the game straight away that this has got to be an Englishman at work. In fact its none other than Ray Hurford of Small Axe reggaezine and reggaefiles fame, who now contain his fandom to the excellent website bearing the same name. The two homemade how lo can you go lo-fi albums here reflect Ray's riddim obsession. "Version Wise" starts off where Andy Cap's Pop a Top left off and continues to band at the nail, an idea initiated by Ray in the first Small Axe People release and developed here with more melodic inflections. Daniel Miller's Silicon Teens once seemed to be the nearest comparison, but they only dared to make album whilst Ray ain't letting this bone go. I have failed to detect any distinctions between the actual Small Axe People and the approach of the Jazzbo T set, with the exception of track 11 - dangerously experimental in a quiet Japanese way and track 12 which eschews any reggae rhythm and then just stops! When I say lo-fi dub I do not mean space, glitch, clicks and cuts and texture - I mean the Stardust Cowboy of version. If I were to capture Ray as First Generation Casio and Rolf Harris' Stylophone meets Fisher Price at the ZX81 of Dub then that would not imply in any way that I do not love these CDs, to the contrary they display a knowledge and warmth missing in most straight nu roots. Version on El Rayos!
!K7 RECORDS !K7140CDx2/LPx2
As Tosca Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber's outings usually receive an airing in this column as they define the smoother end of the Viennese dub scene. Their last effort Honey was versioning taken to alchemical lengths over a whole CD. Here they come up with a whole bunch of tunes all floating along on the classically lush Tosca sound. As former members of the band from which this album takes its name the duo proved their capabilities of generating the tracks from two years worth of live sessions, these are augmented by a series of guest vocalists including the ersatz beat Earl Zinger from London, Different Drummer's MC Tweed, inimitable hometown MC Sugar B and most striking of all Anna Clementi. Like a manifesto issued by Chicago's Guidance re-interpreted through new European ears, everything slows - there's no such thing as a working lunch. For a change a second CD can rightly be titled "bonus" as Huber's solo piano sketches for a future work are hi-jacked by Dorfmeister who cross-references common tonalities from the vocal album and layers in loops and samples under dubbed and processed efx to create an entirely new work that can only be described as spliffed-up Satie. Chilled, charming and champion!
BLOOD LINES - JAMAICAN DUB & ROOTS
ONE STOP RECORDS ROXS8CD
Continuing to dip into the Trojan pool for the sourcing of the selections surely cannot last much longer for One Stop, despite the excellent selection offered up here and the educative sleeve notes from long-time Trojan devotee and supporter Chris Prete of reggazine Catch The Beat. Having said that there's not a dud track here, although a number have been regularly rolled out before and their roots pedigree is the only logic for their compilation. Johnny Osbourne's immaculate Purify Your Heart and Jammy's radical dub mix of Greg Issacs' Black a Kill Black (Leaving from the album "Slum Dub") are worth the price of this budget album for those who have not checked for these landmark tracks. Note for Scratch fans - the Silvertones' African Dub is not the Upsetter version but a later 1977 rockers' style production by ex-Maytal Jerry McArthur.
JAMAICAN REVOLUTION - VOLUMEN ONE
REVELDE DISCOS CD1515
An excellent example of the international nature of the nu roots, dub and reggae sound system connection, this compilation links Jamaica through the UK through to Spain and the Basque country and on to Japan - "Music is vibration. Word is message"! Inspiration comes from Iñaki Yarritu who formed the Basque Dub Foundation (B.D.F.) in London in the early nineties and recruited Dougie Wardrop and Mad Professor for the production of the first homegrown dub album to appear in Spain. Rightly then this set picks up tracks originating from all three locations and Jamaican contribution is pure heavyweight business with Freddie McGregor, Junior Murvin and Admiral Tibet and the UK are not far behind with Martin Campbell, Chuckie Starr, Zion Train and Hydroponics. The Spanish and Basque efforts are worth their place as proven by Morodo's version of Junior Byles' Not Fade Away and BDF's Give Thanks and Praises. Given the potential restrictions of the concept this turns out to be a respectable selection by Kurando Shoji of RootsSeeker.