Jamaican deejay Tippa Lee – currently based in the U.S – has collaborated with talented producer and mixing engineer Tom Chasteen, who is also running Dub Club in Los Angeles.
Now the pair has an album out on Stones Throw Records and it’s a bona fide killer with its tasty and excellent relicks of a number of immortal riddims, including a murderous cut of the lethal Drum Song riddim.
Cultural Ambassador and its dub version Dub Them With Reality are all about culture, consciousness and sound system skills. Tippa Lee started deejaying at the tender age of twelve and dropped his first single in the early 80s. He hasn’t been particularly prolific and this is actually his solo debut following combination sets with Rappa Robert and Toyan in the 80s and early 90s.
And when listening to this stunning set it’s a pity he hasn’t spent more time in the studio because he has a majestic flow and is also a gifted lyricist paying respect to his peers from the early days.
Judging by the artists joining Tippa Lee on this album it’s clear that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Cornell Campbell, Tony Tuff, Bionic Clarke and Sister Nancy all grace this album with their skills.
“Kill them with reality, a with reality, teach them reality… and all slackness deejay them have to run away” states Tippa Lee on the title track and that’s the essence of this set.
Cultural Ambassador (Deluxe Version) is currently available as digital download. It collects both albums mentioned above. A vinyl edition of Dub Them With Reality has also been released, while the vocal part will be put out on May 20.
The second album from U.S. reggae producer and mixing engineer Tom Chasteen’s Natural Numbers continues to reflect the inspiration of classic Jamaican dub.
Field Reality Dub is mostly vintage-styled, organic and raw dub influenced by reggae luminaries like King Tubby. Yet the second part of this ten track set breaks a bit of new ground. In a press release from the label Tom Chasteen describes it vividly when he explains that some new dark light has poured in.
The riddims are heavy and have been laid down by a band including legendary bass man George “Fully” Fullwood from Soul Syndicate. He and the band pound out original cuts as well as versions of classic riddims. Vocal guests joining in this time includes the stylish Lone Ranger, Ranking Joe, Trinity and slick singers Tony Tuff and Edi Fitzroy.
This album is available on vinyl and side A offers thumping rub a dub-tinged dub with a few unexpected influences, such as slide guitar on National Version and a gritty guitar on the melodic and ethereal Rastaman.
Side B is more experimental and psychedelic with an unusual amount of guitar thrown in the mix. Dub of Shadows sounds like a dub version of Led Zeppelin and Seven Times Rise and Stars No Moon are both fiercely haunting with devilish percussion and squeaking guitars.
And on closing track Dawn Observation Tom Chasteen leaves the dub terrain altogether for a journey into something even more avant-garde. This cut is almost hallucinogenic with its abstract synths and sounds like a darker version of the intro from The Who’s classic Baba O’Riley.
Field Reality Dub is an inspired dub excursion and it sounds like Tom Chasteen was in an evil and passionate mood when putting this together.
Natural Numbers is the latest project from Los Angeles-based producer and mixing engineer Tom Chasteen, who is primarily best known for being co-founder of Dub Club, an acclaimed reggae club in Los Angeles as well as one of his musical projects.
Natural Numbers is rooted in the dubbier side of reggae, but also loans elements from the Middle East, country and surf rock. The riddims on Natural Numbers in Dub are original recordings of an all-star band led by heavyweight bass man George “Fully” Fullwood along with members from rock band Wilco and psychedelic pop rockers Mazzy Star.
Cornell Campbell is also on board the project and lends his falsetto to Unconditional Dub, Dub in the City and the superb Dub and Blind. The latter is a cut where Tom Chasteen shows his dance music roots and this five minute masterpiece just keeps building up layer after layer.
The set has a full sound and is not a dub album per se, since a number of the songs are rather instrumentals with added effects. Others, however, are more deconstructed and pulled back together with echo and reverb.
Highlights include the militant Pressurizer along with Theme for King Richard and Ride the High Dub with their haunting organ and lingering surf guitar respectively. Best of the ten tracks is however Dubble Trouble with its rocking percussion, driving bass line and swinging guitar picking.
Natural Numbers in Dub is yet another solid effort from Tom Chasteen and shows that California has more reggae to offer than ska-punk and surf rock reggae.
U.S. reggae producer and mixing engineer Tom Chasteen has via his Dub Club project recently released his first one riddim album, where multiple of mostly veteran artists have brought their own flavour to a dubby and dark instrumental. Artists include Josey Wales, Tippa Irie, Trinity, Tippa Lee, Blackout JA, Ranking Joe and Cornell Campbell.
”UK legend Tippa Irie leads off with the title cut, name checking some dub warriors like Jah Shaka and Lee Perry in the process. Jamaican sound system veterans Trinity, Josey Wales, and Tippa Lee bring some rasta vibes on their respective turns, as the musical track is flipped a little different each time,” explains Tom Chasteen in a press release, and continues:
“Golden voiced singer Cornell Campbell starts side two with a message to all, followed by up and comer Blackout JA and his paean to Dancehall Everlasting. Up next is possibly the stand-out cut out on the record, transforming the deeply swinging instrumental into a percussive runaway train. Finally Ranking Joe adds his two cents to Cornell Campbell’s words of wisdom. We conclude with a clean instrumental for DJs and MCs to make their own.”
Meaning of Dub is yet another fine addition to Stones Throw Records’ growing reggae catalogue.
Dub Club’s Tom Chasteen has dubbed the hell out of The Lions’ excellent This Generation, a set released last year. He has twisted and turned the knobs and the remixed version has a brand new sound, where the bass has been turned up to the max and the percussion plays a more central part.
This Generation in Dub is not a fully accurate title though since album opener Picture on the Wall is a full-blown vocal cut, however in a new shape since Ranking Joe and Leroy Sibbles take turns on the microphone on this version. The other seven cuts are more or less straight dubs with lots of imaginative mixing.
The original album was beautifully arranged with stunning harmonies, tough bass lines and sweet horns, so Tom Chasteen had much to deconstruct and build up again, though with added echo and reverb.
The album title track has been dubbed beyond belief and has something of rock feeling to it now, while New Dub sounds like it has been sent to outer space and back. And not to mention Dub It Tonight. It’s razor sharp and sounds like two ninjas sword fighting.
Another nugget from Stones Throw Records, a label that now has several excellent reggae albums under their belt.
Four of last year’s best releases were The Lions’ This Generation and Dub Club’s Foundation Come Again and its dub counterparts Signs and Wonders in Dub and Bubble Dub. The man behind the three latter is Tom Chasteen, a Los Angeles based producer and DJ with taste for early dancehall.
He has now taken eight tracks from The Lions’ This Generation album for a dub workout.
“The mixing was done rapid fire, bringing up each track on the mixing board, dialing in the sounds and then dubbing it live in real time while it’s fresh. This record is not ‘remixed’ in the modern sense, but ‘dubbed’ in the classic Jamaican manner: adding some percussion and vocals, but basically leaving the tracks as they are and deconstructing them with echo and reverb,” explains Tom Chasteen in a press release.
This Generation in Dub drops on June 10th and is a journey through classic 70s reggae and soul. And the 14-man ensemble The Lions have a distinct style with bright brass and pulsating bass lines with sweet falsetto from Malik Moore and the DJ stylings of Robbie Shakespeare’s cousin Black Shakespeare.
“The Los Angeles reggae scene is really lively right now and this record is a cool meeting of the minds between artists who love the golden era of 70s Reggae. It was a blast dubbing The Lions record because there was so much to work with: beautiful harmony vocals, tough bass lines, sweet horn arrangements, and musical vibes that you can’t get out of a laptop,” concludes Tom Chasteen.
A while ago I wrote about two exciting dub releases from LA’s Dub Club, aka producers Tom Chasteen and Tippa Lee. The vocal counterpart has just hit the shelves and it’s even better than the initially released dub albums.
Foundation Come Again collects 20 tracks voiced by 21 Jamaican sound system legends and one newcomer, Natty King. The album is solely based on relicks of a number of immortal and scorching riddims, including gems such as Heavenless and Drum Song, both originally recorded at Studio One in the 60s, and versioned abundantly in the days of early dancehall, when some of the icons on this album had their heydays.
But it’s not only the music that gets a relick, some of the artists reuses lyrics originally sung in the 70s and 80s. Lone Ranger, for example, uses some of the lyrics from his Sat Upon the Rock, and Welton Irie, checks lyrics from his dark and grim Jah Come.
The musicians – especially the riddim section – involved in this project take a relentless taking-no-prisoners-approach to executing the pulsating and thumping riddims into deadly sonic punches. And there are so many highlights on this album I really don’t know where to begin or to end.
You have the ghostly chanting from Dillinger on Around the World, Little Harry’s fiercely aggressive Revolution or Brigadier Jerry & Ranking Joe’s hypnotic head-nodder Meditation Trance. Then there’s 17 other almost equally as great tracks by icons such as Big Youth, Trinity, Jim Brown, the late Ranking Trevor and the sadly under-recorded Tullo T.
Foundation Come Again is definately not your ordinary album of relicks. This one is something else.
In 2000 music producer and reggae aficionado Tom Chasteen started LA’s Dub Club, where he every week invites Jamaican veteran singers and deejays to perform alongside the club’s DJ’s. The essence of the club can be seen and heard in the excellent documentary and album Rub A Dub Style released a few years ago.
Tom Chasteen has now a new project. This time he has teamed up with Tippa Lee for an album titled Foundation Come Again, set for release in mid July. Prior to that tasty album are two limited edition LP’s with dub versions – Signs and Wonders in Dub and Bubble Dub.
The recordings were done in Jamaica and LA with several foundation deejays, including Big Youth, Lone Ranger, Prince Jazzbo, Dillinger, Josey Wales and Trinity. They ride a number of classic and relicked riddims, such as Death in the Arena, Zion Gate and many more.
All dub versions are made old-school style – mixed live on tape in one take by Tom Chasteen. He improvised and tried and tested the sounds by twisting knobs, pushing faders, reshaping song structures and adding echo and reverb going head to head with space and time.
Signs and Wonders in Dub and Bubble Dub are two deadly dub albums. They’re pulsating and smooth, yet heavy and dread in a rub a dub style and fashion.