Earlier this year reissue giants Pressure Sounds released the much sought after dub album The War is On – Dub Style, a set produced by Phil Pratt, recorded in Jamaica and mixed at Easy Street Studios in London by rock man Stuart Breed.
The original album was released sometime in the mid to late 70s and included eight tracks. The vinyl edition comes only with those cuts, but the CD is expanded by another four songs, all presented in extended versions.
And the real gem on this release is actually one of the bonus tracks – Owen Grey’s haunting Hear We Them A Say. The dub version – Dancing Kid – is included on the vinyl release, and luckily Owen Grey’s vocal is also released as a separate 12”.
The War is On is an ambient journey and the first four tracks comes with a prominent melodica played skilfully by keys man Bobby Kalphat. Then there is the lingering piano on the slow and meditative The Good The Bad and The Brave.
A superb album that is finally available again.
Delroy Wilson and producer Bunny Lee. That’s always a welcome combination. On the by Pressure Sounds recently reissued album Go Away Dream these two musical giants team up with The Agrovators for a romantic reggae affair with rough and tough bass lines, much in the Roots Radics vein.
As usual when it comes to former child star Delroy Wilson it’s a mix of originals and covers. And he does a great job versioning No More Heartaches – originally voiced by The Beltones in the late 60s – and the extended version on the CD and digital version of the album also features an uncredited deejay.
Delroy Wilson has a golden voice and he shines throughout the album. He doesn’t rely much on backing vocals and his soulful and expressive voice is what you get on this excellent set from 1982.
Dubbing in the Backyard is the latest release from UK’s reggae reissue giant Pressure Sounds. It’s a slice of early 80s dub with riddims mostly laid by members of the High Times Band and mixed expertly by Prince Jammy at King Tubby’s studio in Kingston.
The dubs are crisp, tight and sometimes viciously heavy and are versions of vocal cuts originally voiced by some of Jamaica’s finest singers – Delroy Wilson, Cornell Campbell, Jackie Edwards and Johnny Clarke. However, traces of the vocals cannot be found.
The sleevenotes is partly a journey of the making of the reggae documentary Deep Roots and Bunny Lee reveals anecdotes from recording sessions as well as the making of this album. It’s a detailed and fascinating story.
The King, the Prince and the Gorgon have always been a great combination. And this set is no exception.
The latest album coming from reissue giant Pressure Sounds is another great one. And it’s not dedicated to Yabby You, Bunny Lee or Lee Perry. This one is all about bass maestro and soulful vocalist Lloyd Parks, probably best known for being an in-demand session musician.
Lloyd Parks started his career as one half of rocksteady duo The Termites and later he became a solo singer as well as a prominent guitar player and bass virtuoso. Back in the 70s he was part of no less than six different powerful musical forces – The Professionals, The Aggrovators, The Upsetters, The Revolutionaries, Skin Flesh & Bones and We The People Band.
As a session musician he has over the years played on countless of classics, including major hits such as Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own, Max Romeo’s War Inna Babylon, Dave & Ansel’s Double Barrel and The Wailers’ Soul Rebel. Lloyd Parks is also the mastermind behind the Slaving riddim, often miscredited to Glen Brown.
This hefty set comes with 22 track, including Slaving and its version. And the remaining 20 cuts are just as great and demonstrate Lloyd Parks’ gift for writing socially conscious lyrics and catchy melodies.
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.
About a year ago reissue giants Pressure Sounds issued a killer Bunny Lee compilation titled Next Cut!. Now comes another one collecting more of the same, i.e. unreleased versions, alternate takes and hard to find gems from the Bunny Lee vaults.
Tape Rolling! is however focused on an earlier part of Bunny Lee’s insanely long career. The collection spans 1971-1974, a period when Bunny Lee worked with the hottest musicians on the island and managed to put out loads of hits, including Eric Donaldson’s festival winner Cherry Oh Baby and John Holt’s Stick By Me, both tracks included, but not the original versions.
This is a fascinating album with lots of excitement – check Big Joe’s excellent take on Count Prince Miller’s Mule Train – and creativity – listen to I Roy’s mystic chant on Noisy Place, a version of The Paragons’ Man Next Door.
The tracks collected were recorded at a time when smaller and up and coming producers were taking over from the more established ones, like Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and Duke Reid. These producers were not afraid of experimenting and had lots of imagination. No musical boundaries, just great music.
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.
After a large number of Lee Perry and Bunny Lee compilations on UK reissue giant Pressure Sounds one might think that the vaults would be more or less empty by now. But no. That wasn’t the case on Pressure Sounds’ mighty Bunny Lee compilation Next Cut! released a few months ago, and that’s not the issue with yet another set shining light on Lee Perry – one of the most innovative producers in popular music.
Mr Perry I Presume collects rare tracks and exclusive mixes, mixes that were only ever heard by those that went to particular sound system dances. The tracks range from remixes and existing classics to obscure cuts that never reached the shelves. Included are recordings from the period before and during Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio.
Out of the 16 songs 14 are previously unreleased. Particularly interesting is Joy White’s Lay Besides You, the original vocal to Susan Cadogan’s famous Hurst so Good, but also Susan Cadogan’s duet with Bunny Rugs on the same riddim.
An exciting version of The Gatherers’ haunting Words of My Mouth is also included. It’s described as an acapella version, but it’s not. It’s a very different version though. It’s captivating and even more dread than the original.
Pressure Sounds continue to plug the gaps in reggae history and Lee Perry’s unreleased catalogue is obviously not exhausted and this collection of dubplates, alternate mixes and unreleased cuts is essential and consistent.
There’s a ton of Bunny Lee compilations out on the market and there are several new released each year, which makes it hard to know which ones to get and which ones to leave in the bin.
You can however always rely on UK reissue giant Pressure Sounds. Their latest album collects 18 tracks – 16 on the vinyl version – produced by Bunny Lee and comprises rare sides, one-off dubplate specials and alternate takes of classics. Several being previously unreleased and transferred from their original 10” acetates.
Most of the tracks on Next Cut are raw, especially the dubplates, and most of these unique mixes are heavy, sparse and militant. You can hear the mixing engineer try and test delay and echo effects on a classic like Blood Dunza from Johnny Clarke. This version also comes complete with vocal interjections from an unknown deejay, possibly U Brown according to the excellent and thorough liner notes.
Two of the brightest highlights are however carefully arranged horn instrumentals. Vin Gordon’s bright Enforcement is a true masterpiece and so is Tommy McCook’s Middle Eastern Death Trap. But let’s not forget Barry Biggs & Tommy McCook’s Taptone Special or Wayne Jarrett’s minimalistic masterpiece Satta Dread, both followed by a lethal dub version. Murder style!
But this compilation is more than music. It’s also kind of a historical document since it gives snapshots of the recording process. You can hear false starts, shouting and studio chatter. And all this paints a vivid picture of what was happening in the studio.
In late June premier UK reissue label Pressure Sounds unleashes yet another compilation with Bunny Lee produced material.
This 19 track set (17 on the vinyl version) collects a mix of alternate takes on a number of well-known tracks along with dub plates and few “overlooked” gems. Artists represented on Next Cut are, among others, Johnny Clarke, Tommy McCook and Cornell Campbell.
A 10” with four previously unreleased dub versions, produced by Bunny Lee, will accompany the release.