There are loads rare dub albums out there. Many were originally only pressed in a just a few hundred copies. One of those is Errol Brown’s Orthodox Dub. A set recorded and mixed at Treasure Isle studios in Kingston and released only in the U.S in the mid to late 70s.
This obscure and killer set has now been reissued by Dub Store Records. Errol Brown was resident engineer at Treasure Isle at the time when BB Seaton recorded the original vocal versions and then Errol Brown dubbed them with perfection.
This is not dubs of smooth rocksteady. These are tough roots scorchers dubbed with brimstone and fire mashing down the walls of Babylon. Not what one would expect from Errol Brown at Treasure Isle.
Yabby You’s dub album Beware has been unavailable for about 25 years, but has thanks to Pressure Sounds been restored and reissued complete with no less than six superb bonus cuts.
Beware – which collects version sides from various singles – was originally released in 1978 and reissued in 1981 and 1991. The new version is greatly expanded with two fascinating and previously unreleased dubplate cuts, one is the eerie Conquering Lion, which is even more dread in its dubplate disguise, and the other one God is Watching You. This version is haunting with deep harmonies and nyabinghi drumming.
Other stellar cuts include Tommy McCook’s beautiful Sensimena and the powerful Peace with its smattering percussion, relentless bass line and bright saxophone.
King Tubby and Prince Jammy handled mixing duties and as expected it’s clever and innovative spotlighting the bass and drums, yet highlighting other prominent instruments, such as horns and keys.
A key dub album that still sounds powerful.
Forward-thinking Scottish outfit Mungo’s Hi Fi has put out their first compilation featuring some of the key musicians and producers that have influenced them. And it’s a bass heavy bunch of people working out of Europe.
Puffer’s Choice comes with material that has previously appeared on singles along with in-demand dubplates played in dances and a few brand new cuts.
Prince Fatty kicks things off with a chilling and atmospheric version of Kraftwerk’s The Model – with an uncredited vocalist sounding a lot like Hollie Cook – and from then and there it’s a ground-shaking journey with wobbling bass lines, smattering drums and lethal chatting from Danny T, Parly B, Solo Banton, Daddy Freddy, Macka B and Mr. Williamz along with a few more.
A flavorful compilation for those aiming to annoy neighbors.
A while ago Japan’s Dub Store Records reissued Two Big Bull In A One Pen, a devastating King Kong and Red Rose combination set produced by King Tubby and originally released via his Firehouse imprint in the mid-80s.
And now comes the reissue of its dub counterpart – Two Big Bull In A One Pen Dubwise. It has previously been available on digital platforms, but is now also widely available on both CD and vinyl.
This is early digital dancehall dubs of the highest caliber where King Tubby’s two young protégés Peego and Fatman turn knob, push buttons and blow fuses. They have deconstructed this classic album into a digital scorcher with no sign of neither Red Rose or King Kong. It’s completely free from vocal snippets.
Instead the musicians are highlighted. Especially the superb guitar work. Listen to the superb deconstructions of Riddle Me This, Don’t Touch Me Choo Choo and Monkey Sample. Excellent stuff.
Iconic reggae label Greensleeves – nowdays owned by VP Records – was key in putting dub on the musical map through releasing a number of classic albums. The ones mixed by mixing engineer extraordinaire Scientist have never been officially reissued before. I guess it has had something to do with copyright laws, or the lack of it in Jamaica in the early days of reggae and dancehall.
The label has now however managed to come around these issues by not crediting Scientist as the artist. Instead the albums are centred on the producers – Henry “Junjo” Lawes and Linval Thompson. Very clever.
The albums finally reissued are based on recordings that heralded the hit making start for Henry Lawes and the Roots Radics, a band often described as the main architects behind dancehall, a genre that represented a shift and big leap forward for reggae. Many of these dangerous recordings also marked the start for several long and successful careers. Barrington Levy is one the artists that started his career together with Henry Lawes and the Roots Radics.
And two of the dub albums are almost solely based on two of his sets – Englishman and Robin Hood. These two albums form the foundation for Big Showdown – where Scientist goes head to head with Prince Jammy – and Heavyweight Dub Champion. The other three sets – The Evil Course of the Vampires, Wins the World Cup and Space Invaders – have riddims taken from a large number of different artists.
But these five reissues offer more than just dub. Each album include the vocal counteractions on a different disc. It’s the first time the sets are presented in this fashion. Again, very clever.
These eye-catching comic book style albums are some of the best dub sets ever put out and they marked a change history of dub. The riddims provided by the Roots Radics are some of the rawest and heaviest ever to be put on wax. Scientist demolishes the riddims and then he builds them up piece by piece creating a completely new sonic landscape with emphasis on bass and drums.
These selections are crucial to say the least. Roots Radics riddims produced by Henry Lawes and Linval Thompson recorded at Channel One and then mixed by Scientist at King Tubby’s. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Well-renowned reggae reissue label Blood & Fire closed its business in 2007 and a number of its best and most important sets are no longer available. Now, however, VP’s subsidiary 17 North Parade has started reissuing a number of classic items from the Blood & Fire catalogue. It started earlier this year with Horace Andy’s In the Light and its dub counterpart In the Light Dub.
Now it’s time for another three other crucial releases to see the light of day again and 17 North Parade has collected Dub Gone Crazy, Dub Gone 2 Crazy and Dub Like Dirt on a double disc CD or two double LPs titled Dubbing at King Tubby’s. These three albums were originally released in 1994, 1996 and 1999 respectively and all tracks were derived from rare 7” singles released in the 70s.
This is classic Bunny “Striker” Lee and King Tubby business with dubwise workouts of songs sung by the likes of Johnny Clarke, Horace Andy, Cornell Campbell and Leroy Smart. All cuts were dubbed at King Tubby’s small home studio by the King himself along with apprentices like Prince Jammy, Scientist and Phillip Smart.
This is as good as dub gets and the 44 tracks are the blueprint of dub with odd sound effects, echo, delay, reverb and vocal fragments dropping in and out of the mix. These skilled mixing wizards showcase Jamaican studio techniques and they were among the first to use the mixing board as their musical instrument. They strip the songs to their bare essentials – drum and bass – and then adding instrumentation and vocals along the way. The results were game changing. As shown on this excellent set.
Acclaimed U.S. production trio Zion I Kings is behind several of the finest reggae releases in recent years, including beautiful sets by Jahdan Blakkamoore, Lloyd Brown and Pressure.
Now comes the first album under their own name. Dub in Style is a tribute to the late drummer extraordinaire Lincoln “Style” Scott, who started playing drums in the early 70s and went on to record for many of Jamaica’s top producers as part of the Roots Radics band. He and Roots Radics are closely associated with rub-a-dub, a sound that defined the early dancehall era and together they recorded some of the deadliest riddims and records of all time.
Bassist Jah David, keyboard player Tippy I and guitarist Moon Bain are collectively known as Zion I Kings and for each production they work with a number of different musicians. In 2014 they had the opportunity to work with Style Scott and all riddims on Dub in Style were tracked in one day at the Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, Jamaica. The tracks recorded that day appear on releases from Midnite, Akae Beka, Pressure, Ziggi Recado, Jahdan Blakkamoore and Glen Washington.
And a number of those cuts – plus a few others – have now been given an excellent dub treatment by Digital Ancient and Jah David. They use some of the key dub ingredients, but they also focus on the strength of the rhythms and the real heroes on Dub in Style are the instruments, which are given plenty of space to shine.
Highlights include the playful Spare Change Dub with its beautiful horns and rolling bass line, the sombre Snow Hill Dub with vocals courtesy of pop/folk singer Sara Azriel and the militant Cold War Dub with its lingering Spanish guitar and fanfare like horns.
Dub in Style is melodious and graceful dub of the highest calibre.
On Soul Jazz Records’ third installment of Studio One dubs the crew have culled cuts from a number of different sources, mainly from Studio One dub albums released in the 70s, but also from 45s released during the same period.
As usual with the warm and organic recordings coming from Studio One the riddims are immaculate and the musicianship superb with several well-known riddims, including Every Tongue Shall Tell and Darker Shade of Black.
However, Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s mixing style is rather simple and non-imaginative and most cuts are rather instrumentals than dub versions. But the sheer quality of the music makes this a very worthwhile compilation, and more melancholic tracks are the strongest.
Dub Creation – a version of Dennis Brown’s monumental Created by the Father – puts forward the haunting organ and a lingering guitar, while Libra Dub makes excellent use of the clavinet. Dakar is a spellbinding version of the melancholic Gates of Zion riddim, where Clement Dodd lifts the simple and hypnotic bass line ot higher heights.
Clement Dodd wasn’t as adventorous as King Tubby or Scientist behind the mixing desk, but he always had an ace up his sleeve – the riddims created at Studio One in the 60s.
French producer Ackboo – who is heavily inspired UK roots acts like Zion Train and Jah Shaka along with France’s own electro-dub maestro Kanka – is back with a new album, three years after his heavy-hitting debut Turn Up the Amplifier.
Invincible is in the same vein as its predecessor with a mix of mostly dub, reggae and electro. The amplifiers are turned up to unhealthy levels, the bass lines are muscular and the sonic landscape is frighteningly dark.
Brother Culture lends his tongue twisting skills to the grim title track, a cut that is said to be inspired by the progressive Mike Oldfield and comes with vicious keys, and the instrumental Caledon is pure evil with what sounds like Frankenstein’s carillon.
Ackboo has for this militant album assembled a number of well-known vocalists – Linval Thompson, Solo Banton, Horace Andy – but also lesser known talents like Maïcee and S’Kaya. This is warrior-style roots with conscious messages and calls for action. Acboo aims to unite and engage.
Band names in reggae history. That could easily be an interesting chapter in any thorough book about the reggae scene. The Aggrovators, The Revolutionaries, Roots Radics, Soul Syndicate are a handful of creative ones.
You also have Skin, Flesh & Bones. And their scarce Dub in Blood aka The Best Dub Album in the World from the mid-70s is the first release of 2016 on Pressure Sounds. It’s produced by Phil Pratt, recorded at Channel One and mixed by Ernest Hoo Kim and Ossie Hibbert and collects dub to vocal cuts by Al Campbell and Earl George aka George Faith.
It comes with the original ten cuts adding two bonus tracks to the LP version and another two on the CD edition. One of the bonus cuts is a dub of Al Campbell’s eerie Natty Band Wagon recorded at Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio.
Dub in Blood is naked and not loaded with studio wizardry. The tough riddims speak for themselves. And it’s definitely a solid and strong album, but naming it The Best Dub Album in the World might be exaggerating it a bit.