Reggae powerhouse VP and its vintage imprint 17 North Parade continue their excellent Augustus “Gussie” Clarke reissue program. After the powerful 40 track compilation Gussie Presenting the Right Tracks came a 7” collection titled Gussie Presenting the Right Sevens. Now comes another album with Clarke productions.
Born to Dub You collects ten rare and in-demand instrumental cuts from melodica maestro Augustus Pablo. Eight of the ten tracks were recently made available on the aforementioned Gussie Presenting the Right Tracks, but No Entry and Classical Illusion (Micron 7”) are fresh additions.
Some of songs on this superb collection might sound odd to an untrained reggae ear, especially the interplay between a screeching and metallic violin and Pablo’s dreamy melodica on Classical Illusion (Dub Vendor 12″), which comes with an extra haunting dub version by Prince Jammy.
Augustus Pablo’s melodica snakes in and out of the mix and this set offers the usual dark and meditative ambiance found on many of Pablo’s songs and productions. Please note though that the title of this set might be misleading, since it collects instrumentals rather than dub versions.
A few years ago I cried on Twitter about the need for a thorough Augustus “Gussie” Clarke anthology, and maybe someone heard my plea, because reggae powerhouse VP’s vintage imprint 17 North Parade can proudly present Gussie Presenting The Right Tracks.
This double disc features the original eleven track album of the same name complemented by no less than 29 more songs, including unreleased material from the same period, i.e. mid 70s. The set collects instrumentals, dub versions and vocal cuts from a plethora of talented singers and deejays, for example Leroy Sibbles, Gregory Isaacs, Horace Andy, Jacob Miller, Delroy Wilson, Dennis Brown, I Roy and Mikey Dread.
Augustus Clarke was born in 1954 and was only in his late teens when he started in the music industry. He was only 19 years old when he cut the original and exceptional debut albums Screaming Target (Big Youth) and Presenting I Roy (I Roy). He was one of the first so called rebel producers and has always managed to break new ground – check the use of violin on I Roy’s classical Black Man Time or Simplicity People’s K.G.’s Halfway Tree – and stay one step ahead of the current scene.
The sounds collected on these two discs are at times uplifting and joyous, but also haunting, ethereal and eerie. Augustus Clarke certainly had a great ear for arrangements and moods.
He has had an extremely successful career and today he’s one of the biggest music publishers in Jamaica, working largely behind the scenes. And Gussie Presenting The Right Tracks only tells one side of his career. In the 80s he scored a massive hit with Mighty Diamonds’ Pass the Kouchie and re-invented reggae with Gregory Isaacs’ monster smash Rumours. But that’s two other stories, and hopefully two more anthologies.
Gussie Presenting The Right Tracks is available as double disc CD (with excellent liner notes by Harry Wise), single LP and digital download.