LOOK OUT FOR THE DEVIL / VERSION
HONEST JON'S RECORDS 10" VINYL HJP11
Reminiscent, and probably under the spell, of Scratch's monstrous 'Disco Devil' discomix, 'Look Out for the Devil' was actually recorded down at the Black Ark by a grouping known as the Solid Foundation, consisting of Junior Dan aka Sydney Gussine aka Left Hand Bassie, the great Studio One keyboardist Pablove Black, plus a sprinkling of assorted JA talent such as Benbow, Sowell and Scully. The track was taken to Tubby's studio for voicing and mixing and the result is this prime serving of late seventies atmospheric roots. The flip has a joint writing effort with Fred Locks with its superior dub cut also appearing on the recently reissued 'KTW Dub'.
FLESH OF MY SKIN
BASIC REPLAY BRATRALP/CD1005
The album that was largely responsible for generating the mystique of that most charismatic of reggae artists, the late Keith Hudson, is back on the racks after an inexplicably long absence. Issued first in the UK on Mamba in 1975 and then re-appearing not long later on the late Brent Clarke's Atra imprint, the album is unique in the whole of reggae, always placed within but seemingly estranged from the genre even as Hudson's masterpiece. Bookended by two glowering, dense and steamy instrumentals, the opener 'Hunting' is dragged into to life by Count Ossie's Mystic Revelation and closer 'Stabiliser' comes as a short, slow-burning, spaced-out reggae funk affair, and in between there's the tortured voice of Hudson bringing his own pre-cathartic sensibility to an interpretation to Dylan's 'I Shall Be Released' and the painfully moving matriarchal recognition of the title track. Its by no means an easy listen and the album was never released in Jamaica where it was generally disliked by those who heard it at the time.
THE MIGHTY THREES
AFRICA SHALL STRETCH FORTH HER HANDS
The short-lived harmony group the Mighty Threes were made up of Carlton Gregory, Bernard Brown and Noel ‘Bunny’ Brown of Chosen Few and Studio One fame, recording at the little known Concert Studios in Kingston, Jamaica and cutting a single vocal album that spawned a dubwise companion. The opening track of that set 'Rasta Business' is a genuine roots classic delivered on a semi-dubbed backing and with harmonies redolent of a hybrid between Israel Vibration and the Meditations. 'Backyard Movement' and a reworking of the 'Sata' (sic) them are other tracks that have also deservedly built in reputation over time. Both the vocal and dub sets are collated back to back here on the French label that continues to source an impressive catalogue from roots' lesser know hinterlands.
UNRELEASED DUBS 94-96
PLANET MU ZIQ085CD
WIRED FOR SOUND
VIOLENT TURD TURD06
Just for proof, if it were needed, that this columnist can detect the difference between old new school and new old school, here's the master and servant lined up once more. Back in the early 90s Marc Forrester, aka Remarc, was part of a small but elite group who over a period of eighteen months or so produced the defining chapter of what was known as 'jungle' on UK labels such as Suburban Base, Kemet, Street Tuff, Dollar and White House. On this set of unreleased dubs MC Eksman intros the 'recreation' of era that moves into 'Bad No Bloodclart', reprised with vox later on, a tune that has the feel of that digi-junglist crossover hot that never happened for the clear reason that its just a sucka punch for the assault that follows. 'Darkaworld' comes just like it sounds, a template for the darkcore d&b that spun out from 94 onwards with the No U Turn boyz, Doc Scott & co. Don't feel bad about missing it all, almost everybody else did, including Todd Osborne, who makes up for it with his unmissable 'Wired for Sound' mix album with three cuts sharing sixty tracks of the era selecting in junglist and ragga remix cuts including plenty of deadly blasts from Shy FX, Kemet Crew, and the great Krome & Time.
LINVAL THOMPSON AND FRIENDS
WHIP THEM KING TUBBY!
A fact that should not go unrecognised is that reggae historian Dave Katz is among those responsible for this new quality reissue label along with Dave Hill of Nuphonic, so the imprint come with an expectation of high quality output. No disappointments with the first release that is made up from a collection of dubplate style outings lifter straight from the originating master tapes. Nine unreleased tunes from Thompson, plus Horace Andy, Jacob Miller and Johnnie Clarke followed by dubs to each and everyone. The title is to the rhythm of 'King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown', whilst 'Whe the Wicked' uses another Pablo rhythm 'Rockers Dub' - better known perhaps as the Heptones' 'Love Won't Come Easy'. Linval Thompson may have suffered from over-exposure of late, certainly for an artist/producer not counted in the 'premier league', but this set goes a long way in firming up his production pedigree and the dubs are Tubby in fine style all the way.
DREAD MEETS DISCO PUNK ROCKER DOWNTOWN - MODERN WILD DUB
ECHO BEACH EBCD045
With Mark Stewart tempted out to daub new collections of slogans as sleeve notes for this follow up to the label's more mainstream 'Wild Dub' release it’s a tempting little package, especially as he gets together with Sherwood for a 80's style dub remix of Radio 4's 'Struggle'. But whether the sounds emanate from times gone by or just yesterday, here or there, it’s the London/New York connect as the Twitch inna Optimo remix of the James White spazz-dance classic 'Contort Yourself' sounds almost half Normal i.e. as in Daniel Miller. But it’s the stripped down post-Public Image Limited dub style of 'Hominid Hump' from !!!'s sister group New York's Outhud that best represents today's understanding of the real spaces to be explored within dub's over-used, or at least over-quoted, aesthetic. Other stuff comes from Colder, Chicken Lips, G.Rizo, LCD Sound System and Chicks On Speed in not only a sound clash but drugs clash style, in that the eternal question always remains 'is it weed or is it speed?'.
VERSION CITY ROCKERS
DISCOS ANTIFAZ ATFZ01
Version City Rockers is a loose collective of musicians focussed King Django's Version City Studio. Originally located in the East Village of New York City, where it became the centre of New York's ska and dub scenes the studio is now located in New Brunswick, NJ. King Django started dubbing as a member of the NYC ska/reggae band The Boilers in the mid 1980's and over the years has built a rep as a singer, MC, writer, arranger, instrumentalist, producer, studio engineer and label owner. On this set Django collaborates with Alfredo de Matteis in launching Puerto Rico's first roots label and pulls in heavyweight assistance for the studio band from no less than Cedric Brooks and Glen Brown, and then secures highlight tracks from Ronnie Davis, Yabby You & the Prophets and Congo Ashanti Roy. Their website manifesto bears the legend "pure consciousness with guagancó in a world where moderation has become the latest hustle, no side stepping here folks"!
BARCELONA IN DUB
DECODER MUZIQUE DECCD002
An album that opens with a dubwise accordion sound (Hey's "Good Luck") has a lot going for it as far as I am concerned. Unfortunately this collection, despite best intentions, gets a little a little soft in the middle and most impact is delivered by slick high-end packaging that adopts a dub aesthetic with the manipulation of images within double digipack with four sleeves representing the cardinal points of Barcelona. The associated DVD complements the heavy design focus with a dub soundtrack to a virtual tour of the city. Javier Verdes music selection veers largely to the smooth side and it's only towards the close with Roots Manuva's remix of Nightmares On Wax "'70s '80s" that we start to get energised.
UNIVERSAL EGG WWCD037
Over the past couple of years Leicester's Stevie Vibronics has forced himself through to UK's major dub league through a succession of leading edge nu roots sides built for maximum sound system damage, many inna that speedy steppers' style that leads one to wonder if new substances are being abused on the dancefloor or is it a super strain of weed. On this new one, the follow-up to their debut 'Dub Italizer', Vibronics (Steve, Richi Rootz and vocalist Madu) are supplemented by Mark Iration, Wayne McArthur, on militant horns Stevie Splitz and melodica Vitamin M. The mix is tough as might be expected but there are constant flourishes, the opening acapella horns on 'Only One Dub', the dubbed Spanish guitar on 'Dub Forever' and the harmonised vocal intro on 'Mount Zion I'. Watch out for supporting 7" singles and 10" dubplates on the Deeproot and Scoops labels.
NIGHTY>NIGHT - DEEP SOUL IN DUB
STOIC RECORDS STC1001
A stab at an aurally organic Xanax substitute from ex-MC Weevie applying assorted dub efx to what sounds like an old mix tape of joints he slapped together on a lazy rainy afternoon. Triple dubbed and layered down into the mix are an aggrieved neighbour, Chuck Jackson, the Reverend Al Green, Donovan, the JBs, Derek Jacobi's I Claudius, Grover Washington, LA airport departure lounge and Las Vegas casino ambience, Steve Reich's 'Come Out', Zap Mama, Bugs Bunny, the Meters - and all not so much chilled as truly zonked, this jam is enough to give fully paid-up soul and r'n'b fans a righteous seizure and keep the label on the move avoiding copyright searchers.
SMALL AXE SMALL028
It took two years for this album to make the cross-channel passage, perhaps as a result of the bass being adjudged too heavy by those newly-zealous Customs chaps. That the French carry on regardless running away with that funny-shaped recently-formed European dub ball and having the gall to sing in English without a trace of sarcasm showing through - its all the more endearing. Picking up from where the Ruts left off Zenzile are symptomatic of the kind of unselfconsciously rampant political dub reggae so reviled back in the UK these days as belonging to past ages of poverty and change. The rumbling lower vibrations on this set are enough to scam a freebie lower back massage rubbing up against the sub-bass stack. A couple of sultry vocals by the gleefully indeterminate Jamika Ajalon inna Annie Bandez style attempt to light up the lower depths in vain. Another recommended bass-bound album out of the same stable is 'Lô Bâ' from Lyon's Meï Teï Shô who stray more into afrobeat and space jazz zones.