DUST MY BROOM
It’s a couple of years since the duo of Nuremberg producers Florian Seyberth and Peter Heider, aka Boozoo Bajou, put together the exemplary compilation ‘Juke Joint’ – a seamless meld of low end dub and southern soul and blues sounds. Since that time they have been perfecting that feel in the studio both from their own resources and an inspired series of guests mixing old and new school soul into the deepest of grooves. Tony Joe White, recently spotlighted on the excellent ‘Country Got Soul’ series, makes for perfect dub foil swamp-style, Joe Dukie from Fat Freddie’s Drop, who could easily be a Memphis drop-out, duets with U Brown, the blaxploitation soundtrack specialist Willie Hutch makes an overdue comeback and Top Cat takes a lick for the track lifted as a single ‘Killer’.
DEB MUSIC PLAYERS
DEB PLAYERS IN DUB
HOUSE OF DEB
In I1978 just at point his career was showing signs of international crossover, after productive spells with both Joe Gibbs and Niney the Observer in Jamaican, Dennis Brown linked up with old spar Castro Brown in London to launch the DEB label (Dennis Emmanuel Brown). Rather than stretching or diluting his output or involvement the adventure yielded Dennis’ greatest album in ‘Wolf and Leopards’ and great sets from another old pal, Junior Delgado – amongst others. In 1979 a follow-up to the acclaimed ‘20th Century Dubwise’ was finished and due to be released but never appeared due to the premature folding of the label. Another instrumental the dub set, ‘House of Deb’, is a collection of DEB’s now classic rhythms including Black Uhuru’s ‘Rent Man’ and ‘Wood For My Fire’ plus the awesome ‘Shaka The Warrior’ a cut to Dennis’ ‘Slave Driver’ and a favourite dubplate Jah Shaka aired at his dances in the late seventies. All the tracks were likely recorded at studios like Joe Gibb's, Channel One and Harry J’s and mixed at King Tubbys by then Prince Jammy.
Just after "House of DEB" was recorded in 1979, "DJ Tracking" was produced and actually hit the streets. The album ran versions by DJ superstars like Trinity, Jah Thomas and Big Joe alongside the lesser known Ras Bug and Buckers, performing rough and righteous in turn on favourite DEB rhythms of the day like Junior Delgado’s ‘Famine’, ‘Trickster’ and ‘Warrior’ and Black Uhuru’s ever-popular ‘Rent Man’. Sat posing on the Honda scooter on the album’s front cover is the label co-owner Castro Brown. Taken together this pair constitutes the rarest of DEB albums, the first having never been officially released and the second never repressed since its first brief appearance.
DIGIDUB & FAIRSHARE UNITY SOUND SYSTEM
I SCREAM / VERSION / NO WAY / VERSION
DAVID 10" VINYL SINGLE
Lee Digidub has been a dubplate provider for Julian Fairshare’s Unity Sound System for some years now so it’s seemed logical that a studio collaboration was more than feasible. And so it proves with this their doubleheader debut on David, a subsidiary of the Dubwise label. Shunting horns, could it be those Crispy boys?, give a relaxed old school vibe to the no-way primal ‘I Scream’ where Julian Fairshare goes some way to inventing a new DJ scat style. On the flip the vocal is minimal whilst Dave Katz, better known as Scratch’s biographer and Auralux mainman, steps forward to resume his old musician’s cloak and toot spiritually edged Pabloesque melodica lines on the moody ‘No Way’. New nu UK roots without the usual righteousness by numbers shtick.
GLEN BROWN & FRIENDS
RHYTHM MASTER VOLUME 2
HOT POT CD/LP
The voice of Prince Jazzbo introduces this album with: "Tune into the king of sounds and blues ……" as the preface to ‘2 Wedden Skank’, the Joe White melodica tune that many first heard on Dave Hendley’s ‘Rebel Music’ compilation for Trojan, a tune that runs into Glen’ take on Isaac Hayes’ ‘Do Your Thing’ and its off-centre skanking guitar version ‘Pantomine Rock’ – enough of a creative span for one album one would have thought but the next track is bizarre ‘mockney’ intro of I Roy’s surreal ‘Brother Toby is a Movie from London’ followed by three versions of ‘Merry Up’ and James and Bobby Purify’s ‘I’m your Puppet’ on the classic ‘Slaving’ rhythm followed by an extended version ‘No More Slavery’ with a piano coda fooling the listener into the expectation of a restrained chamber jazz piece. That’s just half this album of pure rhythm invention from Glenmore ‘The Godson’ Brown and there’s another set yet to come from Steve Barrow’s new Hot Pot label at last under full steam. Indispensable to any serious students of rhythm - and on vinyl too.
GUSSIE P AND THE SIP A CUP FAMILY
BOOK OF DUB VOL.2
DUB WAX LP
Taken some time to catch up with this celebratory release marking twenty years for the Sip A Cup label in what passes for business out there, it doesn’t seem that long for Gussie P who is one of the few to have kept his sights focused down on the traditional art of dub. His irregular series of Sip A Cup 10 inch vinyl releases are well worth keeping track of and its this source from where many of these dubs originate, all of which are old time roots classics, and some rarities, re-versioned by Gussie with the assistance of Mafia & Fluxy. In there as ‘Dub From The Longest Time’ is Sylford Walker’s ‘Burn Babylon’, Trevor Byfield’s ‘Burning Bush’ not long ago reissued by Rootical Dubber comes as ‘Bloodshot Eyes Dub’, Rockers label Asher & Trimble’s ‘Humble Yourself’ is ‘Jah Commands In Dub’, Prince Alla’s ‘Stone’ becomes ‘Dub Of Stone’, Bim Sherman’s ‘10,000 Careless Ethiopians’ appears as ‘The Dub Go Round’ and Junior Delgado’s monstrous ‘Son’s Of Slaves’ originally cut for Scratch is born again as ‘DNA Dub’. The identities of remaining rhythms are more elusive but what matters is that this original drum and bass is cut deep and plays heavy.
In 1977 the original release of ‘Extra Classic’ brought the ascension to reggae superstardom for the Cool Ruler and forward to the edge of crossover success and its this set, together with the same year’s ‘Mr.Isaacs’, that constitutes the core of his finest work. His voice was at its most mellow and languid, best evidenced on the title track of the album where his delivery of the most vacuous lyric is simply divine! At the time he was earning a living as a panel beater rather than a singer. Opening with signature Black Ark sound of ‘Mr. Cop’ may probably provoke an unsustained frisson for Scratch fans as the rest of the set is self-produced by Gregory. A mix of lovers and roots topped by the great ‘Black a Kill Black’, a unique observation of the nature of Kingston’s violence of the time, still unabated. But what really makes this release essential is the accompanying dubs for the album tracks, largely a collection of singles from 1976 and 1977. Perversely ‘Thief a Man’ although not included on the original album is here in its dub form, the chest-pounding lurch that is theTubby mix of ‘Cry Tuff Dub’ (as taxed by Dr. Alimontado for his ‘Gimme Mi Gun’ on ‘Best Dressed Chicken in Town’).
MERE MORTALZ FEATURING U BROWN
DIS-A-BOOM / INSTRUMENTAL VERSION
THUNDERTONE 10" VINYL SINGLE
This debut release on the Thundertone label, presented as the new ‘reggae-tronica’ imprint, is a wild dancer and a joyful, unashamedly self-referential paean to riddim. Production team the Mere Mortalz are reggae buff and label owner Casey together with breakbeat DJ Kevin Beber who engineer the meeting of reggae with electronica, but there’s nuff old school sounds in the mix with a jabbing trombone and vintage Hammond squiggling around the fast-paced rhythm. No problem for U Brown though as he digs out a string of quotes from the sound system handbook of guaranteed DJ exhortations, but there is surprise ending with some short payback acapellas for use on a later occasion. Fascinating to check what might be delivered with the next release due from these boys - ‘Haul & Pull’ a shot with Earl 16.
NINEY & FRIENDS
BLOOD & FIRE – HIT SOUNDS FROM THE OBSERVER STATION 1970 – 1978
SUFFERATION: THE DEEP ROOTS REGGAE OF NINEY THE OBSERVER
Two Niney compilations, one heading in a different direction to the other. Trojan attempt an overview of the seventies whilst Auralux aims at lesser known rootical material from later in the decade. Of the forty eight tracks collected on the Trojan set there are many stone classics from one of reggae’s most creative producers and if there were to be a genuine criticism here it would be that this should really be the first of three or four volumes, as it is it really has no appeal for the more serious collector who will have all these tunes. Far better to compile singles like Cornell Campbell’s ‘I Heart is Clean’ with its unmissable Tubby’s version ‘Zinc Fence’, and how could Junior Byles’ ‘Weeping’ be forced to appear once more without it’s essential version, the beautifully plaintive horns-led ‘East African Herbs Vendor’ from the Ethiopian Eunuchs (I kid you not!). So, a missed opportunity to pay proper obeisance to the mighty Observer – but theirs is a great set of detailed, informative and opinionated sleeve notes from Tony Rounce, on loan from Ace.
Over at Auralux Dave Katz continues his fine job of selecting compilations and gracing them with his authorative notes. Nine of the fourteen tracks are extended versions with either DJ or dub version segued into the vocal, so maybe it would be a little churlish to question why I Roy’s ‘Wicked Eat Dirt’ does not follow its vocal lead in Leroy Smart’s take on the ‘Satta’ rhythm ‘Jah is my Light’ or that the dubs are missing from the Rockstones’ tracks – the set does clock in at seventy two minutes plus as it stands. If you can make it past the disco length version Tyrone Taylor’s doom-laden ‘Sufferation’, one of reggae’s bleakest moments, then you are clear with prime period but rare Dennis Brown including his mutation of ‘Here I Come’ as ‘Jah is Watching You’ followed by an unusual trombone version of Dillinger’s DJ piece on the rhythm ‘Flat Foot Hustling’ plus two visits to Gregory Isaacs’ ‘Rock On’, one with Vin Gordon ‘boning the dub, ‘Murder Observer Style’. Newcomers to Niney can take the Trojan whilst aficionados will head for the Auralux.
PRESSURE SOUNDS 2xCD/2xLP
The history of the One Love Peace Concert held in Kingston on Saturday, April 23 1978, has been forever captured by the image of Jah Bob joining the hands of the uncomfortable political rivals Seaga and Manley in a gesture of enforced reconciliation. Here's the real story. Peter Tosh's revolutionary set included incendiary, confrontational speeches delivered in a no-sell out style before versions of ‘Burial’, ‘Equal Rights’, ‘Legalise It’ and ‘Get Up Stand Up’ respectively. It’s around five years or so since this was last available on JAD Records out of France, but this new edition comes with remarkable acoustic sessions dated the year after from American radio where the late Wailer proves himself an accomplished and compelling solo performer.
STUDIO ONE LOVERS
SOUL JAZZ RECORDS CD/2XLP
The vocal styles of the first waves of great Jamaican vocalists owed not a little to song stylists Nat King Cole, Brook Benton and later Sam Cooke, Thurston Harris, Jackie Wilson, not forgetting all those great doo-wop groups from New Jersey to LA. So it’s no surprise that the singers supported by Studio One tend to ooze class. This selection from Dub Vendor’s Oxman, himself an MC and selector of repute, retrofits a sweet selection into what was strictly a UK sub-genre of reggae that now extends as a useful marketing definition if it means we can have access to material such as this. Although eternal favourites are there such as Ernest Wilson’s always aching ‘Undying Love’, The Mad Lads’ enthusiastic reading of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Ten To One’ and Larry and Alvin’s ‘Your Love’ its some of the lesser know tracks that pull, for instance the Shark’s are mournful but magisterial on ‘How Could I Live’, recently redistributed on a clean seven inch pressing, and the cover versions - Doreen Schaefer’s adaptation of Boz Scagg’s ‘We’re All Alone’ and Myrna Hague’s version of Johnny Bristol’s ‘Touch Me Baby’ – all of which may seduce roots fans into the deeper worlds of reggae.