Lee Perry, King Tubby, Scientist and King Jammy are the producers and engineers most often associated with dub, but there are of course other musicians – sometimes overlooked in the course of reggae history – that helped to create, develop and vitalize the genre.
Clive Chin is one of those people. He is probably best known for producing Augustus Pablo’s immortal and much versioned Java as well as being the mastermind behind Java Java Java Java, one of the first dub albums ever released.
But he was also responsible for another legendary dub album – Randy’s Dub. It was originally released in 1975, but less than 200 copies were pressed. It was one of those holy grails until Blood & Fire reissued it in 1998 as Forward the Bass (Dub From Randy’s 1972-1975) with six bonus cuts.
The original version with ten tracks has now been reissued by the heroes over at France’s Onlyroots Records. This edition comes with its original cover sleeve and collects ten tracks produced Clive Chin and mixed by Karl Pitterson. The Wailers and Skin, Flesh & Bones Band are responsible for the rhythms and they are certainly in full swing on this set.
Randy’s Dub collects dub versions of a few instrumentals as well as vocal cuts by the likes of Carlos Malcolm, Sweeny and Winston Morris, who later renamed himself Tony Tuff. The set is rather conservatively mixed and Karl Pitterson hasn’t drenched the cuts with the usual dub wizardry using delay, reverb and sound effects.
The superb rhythms are stripped with added bass and occasional vocal snippets dropping in and out of the mix. Sometimes less is more.
VP Records follow-up on their Channel One 7” box set released earlier this year with a set dedicated to another legendary Jamaican studio and label – Randy’s, probably the most important studio of the early 70’s. It was for example here Augustus Pablo recorded several of his early masterpieces.
Roots Rock Randy’s collects seven rootsy 7” from the Randy’s catalogue produced by Clive Chin with engineering wizard Errol “ET” Thompson – later of the Mighty Two with Joe Gibbs – at the controls in Randy’s Recording Studio, located above Randy’s Record Mart on 17 North Parade in Kingston.
The music included is classic roots – vocals, instrumentals and dubs. Some of the tracks have previously been reissued on 7”, whereas others haven’t been on wax since their original released almost 40 years ago. A bunch of the tracks are also available on compilations such as 17 North Parade on Pressure Sounds, including The Gladiators’ The Race, The African Brothers’ Hold Tight and Broadway’s funky harmonica-lead Guns in the Ghetto, on the 7″ it’s the flipside to Hortense Ellis’ version of Marlena Shaw’s Woman of the Ghetto.
The most worthwhile 7”s are probably Ansel Collins’ haunting instrumental Spanish Town Road with its sparse dub version S-Corner Dub and Augustus Pablo’s Java Passion, his next cut to the original Java. Its flipside Woodpecker is just as tasty.
If the 7” format and quality roots music is your thing, then this rockin’ box set is well-worth investigating further.
Java Java Java Java is a legendary and extremely rare dub album released in 1973 on the Impact label. It’s considered to be the very first dub album in competition with Lee Perry’s Blackboard Jungle Dub and Herman Chin-Loy’s Aquarius Dub released the same year.
Now Java Java Java Java is reissued through VP Records, and it’s essential to any fan of dub or reggae.
The man responsible for the basic – compared to techniques used only a few years later – mixing is Errol Thompson, who later moved on to form the Mighty Two with producer Joe Gibbs.
These ten tracks contain a minimum of studio trickery or effects. It is more or less an instrumental album with stripped vocals and the bass turned up loud. But that works fine when the riddims are as strong as these. Less is more as they say.
It kicks off in fine style with Guiding Dub, a version of the Heptones’ Guiding Star, originally recorded at Studio One. Other vocalists that drop in and out are Dennis Brown, Max Romeo and Junior Byles.
This is a brilliant album from start to finish, but two tunes deserve a special mention. E.T. Special is a cut of the rock steady instrumental Swing Easy with saxophonist Tommy McCook in great shape, and Java Dub is an adventurous version of Augusts Pablo’s epic Java. It starts off like the original version, but after 30 seconds it’s stripped to the bare essentials – bass line, hi-hat and bass drum.
Java Java Java Java is presented in digital clarity on LP, CD and digital download. Don’t miss out on this one.