Earlier this year Japan’s Dub Store Records reissued the rare Concrete Jungle Dub originally released in 1976 in tiny quantities. The set is produced by Winston Riley and superbly mixed by King Tubby and collects versions of rhythms issued via Riley’s Techniques label.
The selection is a strictly dubwise effort with no vocals. Although several rhythms can be identified, for example Stepping Stone Dub, a version of Johnny Osbourne’s cover of Delfonics’ Ready or Not, and Staga Dub, a version of the immortal Stalag 17 rhythm, probably best known through Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam or Tenor Saw’s Ring the Alarm.
The original album came in a white plain sleeve, but the reissue comes with a shot of Winston and brother Buster in a recording studio. A long-overdue reissue showcasing two of pivotal figures in the history of reggae and dub.
A new 15 track compilation from Dub Store Records spotlights one of the giants on the Jamaican music scene – Winston Riley. He’s probably best known for producing Sister Nancy’s groundbreaking single Bam Bam, originally released in the early 80s, or Dave and Ansell Collins’ funky Double Barrell, a cut that probed its way into the UK national pop charts in May, 1971.
But Winston Riley was active way before the 80s and he started in the music industry as a singer as early as 1962 when he formed The Techniques, one of Jamaica’s finest vocal groups. Two years later he and his group scored a hit song with the excellent Little Did You Know.
But when the rhythm changed from ska and rock steady to reggae Winston Riley turned to production and formed his own Techniques label, a label that put out a whole heap of quality releases, as showcased on the mighty fine compilation Winston Riley’s Rock Steady & Early Reggae 1968-1969 – The Techniques & Friends.
In Jamaica in the 60s vocal groups was the order of the day. And this becomes obvious when checking the track list of this album. Only one track is credited to a solo singer. Dave Barker in this case. But he’s featured on other cuts as well since he was also part of The Techniques ever-changing line-up, a line-up that over a few years also included talents such as Winston Riley, Slim Smith, Pat Kelly, Lloyd Parks and Bruce Ruffin. All of them continued to pursue successful solo careers as singers, producers and engineers.
The period covered on the compilation is one of the best in Jamaica’s musical history. It’s upbeat with beautiful singing and harmonizing. And the influence from U.S. soul is deep-rooted.
The well written U.S music magazine Wax Poetics dedicates the latest issue to reggae and it includes articles on melodica pioneer and producer Augustus Pablo, music entrepreneur Chris Blackwell – most known for making Bob Marley world famous – and legendary singer Gregory Isaacs.
Wax Poetics is usually concerned with jazz and soul, but has sometimes included reggae related articles. For example a great piece on Winston Riley by journalist and photographer David Katz, responsible for the acclaimed People Funny Boy, a biography of Lee Perry.
Thanks to Jahkob for sharing this on the Blood and Fire forum.