Dub. The first time I walked into a dance and literally felt the sound hit me is an experience I will never forget. Much can, and has been, written about the significance of this music genre but it is my intention to let you feel the sound here too. Dub has established itself as one of the most popular forms of Reggae, so it's an honour for me to compile these records for DeepSoul3 radio; especially being only young myself when most of these tracks were originally played out live and direct in their entirety.
My love of music has always been deeply rooted to the underground, I've shopped for all sorts of records ever since I earned pocket money to reflect that. The past couple of weekends I've had dusty fingers sorting through dozens of cherished 12", 10" and 7" vinyl in an effort to squeeze in a selection of dub cuts from some of my favourite artists. This selection comes from the heart, which I believe was the only pre-requisite when asked to compile this selection.
It is well documented that Dub music originally came to fruit in Jamaica around 1969 when a number of Kingston based producers began issuing singles with instrumental versions on the flipside of vocal releases. These 'versions' were originally instrumental backing tracks, the B side of Jamaican singles often used for sound checks and toasted over the top of by deejays. At a time when Jamaicans were dancing to Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae sounds, it was King Tubby who embellished these tracks using custom built sound effects in and out of the mix. With fragments of vocals, amplified cymbal shots and thundering drum crashes together with effects such as reverb, echo and phasing, he made history in the process by turning these simple tracks into experiments of contemporary dance music.
As with most forms of music, Dub has naturally evolved into many different forms, from Dubroots to Dancehall and more recently from Digital to Dubstep, but I have tried to keep this selection strictly Reggaedub! Many of the artists featured over the next hour or so have sadly passed on leaving behind them a legacy that is often imitated, but never duplicated.
Produced with 2 Technics SL 1200 MK2 turntables, Pioneer DJM 800 mixer, Allen & Heath Zone VF1 filter unit and a siren box from Russ Disciples.
I would like to thank one special person for opening the door and showing the light, Jah Trevedi
Horace Andy - Let Love Live (1982)
I’m throwing you straight in the deep end here with a heavy 12'' dub from the wonderful Horace Andy. A haunting melody with a delicate, emotive delivery intertwines beautifully with an intricate Roots Reggae riddim. It was recorded in the late seventies but not released until 1982 on the Wackie's label, with Lloyd Barnes, Junior Delahaye and 'Prince' Douglas Levy on mixing duties. Dance Hall style.
Prince Douglas - Tongue Shall Tell Dub (1980)
A dear friend of mine bought me this fabulous album, originally recorded in the Bronx, New York and simply entitled ‘Dub Roots’. Engineer Douglas Levy was part of the original Wackie’s label line up of 1974-5. Again, assisted by the very capable Lloyd Barnes, Prince Douglas has put everything and more into this production. Wicked and a while me say well versatile…
Errol Holt - Fly Your Dreads (1978)
This tune creeps up on me each time I hear it. Errol ‘Flabba’ Holt has conjured up a soft and subtle sounding dub here, produced by Dread & Dread with Prince Jammy. Errol was better known as base player with the Roots Radics band, but cut some stunning vocals in his own right. This is from the classic Roots Reggae album ‘Vision of Africa’.
Jah Whoosh - I'm Alright (1975)
An original Roots deejay from the seventies, Woosh was inspired by his Rastafarian faith at an early age having witnessed the procession of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassi through Kingston on his visit to Jamaica in 1966. Heavy dub here on the Original Music label from influential producer Keith Hudson, mixed at Tubby’s with vocals courtesy of someone called Horace Andy.
Johnny Clarke – Stop Them Jah (1975)
Johnny Clarke's prolific career began by winning a singing talent contest when only just seventeen, allowing him to cut his first ever record. He then established himself recording most of his best work throughout the seventies under the legendary producer Bunny 'Striker' Lee. As Bunny Lee had to make do without a studio of his own, he always required the very best of musicians that wouldn't waste expensive studio rental time. This version is courtesy of The Aggravators, one of Jamaica's finest session bands of the era.
Yabby You - Chanting Dub (1976)
This is the dub version of Yabby You's (born Vivian Jackson) seminal ‘Chant Down Babylon’. An alternative Rastafarian of Christian faith, Yabby You is known as both spiritual singer and producer a like. His slightly brooding, chanting sound can be felt in most of his productions from his self entitled label - this cut here being one of my very favourites.
Soul Syndicate - Ghetto Living Dub (2005)
The Soul Syndicate were the band of choice for popular producer Niney ‘The Observer’, who often worked closely with King Tubby by re-working the band's original material for dubplate specials. This track, mixed at Tubby's is a perfect example of how the versions worked on would suit the band's heavy rhythm style, hence making them Sound System favourites back in the day. Nice up the dance.
Prince Jammy - Late Night Blues (1995)
Originally released in 1980 by Al Campbell, this tune celebrates the house parties that had been Reggae's lifeblood since the 1950's. The cut is re-engineered here by Lloyd ‘Jammy’ James, prodigy of the King Tubby hall of fame. He produced dub almost exclusively until later championing the digital dancehall sound with his 1985 smash ‘Under Me Sleng Teng’. Check out all manner of effects used here in the mix from the ‘Prince’, eventually being promoted to ‘King’, and rightly so.
Don Carlos - Plantation (1984)
Don Carlos was born in Waterhouse, Kingston in the early fifties, a dangerous part of Jamaica known as ‘The Trench’ where he still lives to this day. This is the title track taken from an album which makes the connection between land and politics, suggesting the roots of Jamaica’s ghetto existence lay in the exploitive plantation system that had historically dominated the island. A passionate singer, song writer and performer alike, his career started way back in 1965 then moved on to become one of the original band members of roots vocal group Black Uhuru in 1973. Pursuing a solo career soon thereafter, Don Carlos still finds his inspiration through touring world wide today, with a quality collection of albums to his name. Tribulation.
Barrington Levy – Black Roses (1985)
So many massive dance hall hits to choose from the wonderfully charismatic Mr Barrington Levy - check out his performances of ‘Under Me Sensi’ and ‘Here I Come’ on Utube to see what I mean. Despite being one of the most requested Reggae vocalists in the world today, it’s great to hear he spends most the time on his humble farm raising animals. A great live act full of energy, this man is larger than life and most certainly Broader Than Broadway.
Twinkle Brothers - Faith Can Move Mountains (1983)
Roots conscious and deeply spiritual, I saw the Twinkle’s mash up fe dance with Jah Shaka some years ago, an experience that blew me away. Norman and Ralston Grant learned to sing and make their own musical instruments at an early age through growing up in poverty in the north coast ghettos of Jamaica. Having released 60+ albums to date and still going strong today, their soulful harmonies and devout righteous message remain timeless throughout their work. Strictly roots & culture.
Royals - If You Want Good (1979)
Roy Cousins originally formed the Royals way back in 1966. Although the set up of the group has changed many times since, he has remained the constant element - writing, arranging and eventually responsible for producing the band as well. Although relocating to the UK and opening up a record shop in Liverpool, Roy's music has always told of the social reality in Jamaica. When interviewed recently he stated “If you listen to Reggae music, you don’t need to buy the paper. Reggae music tell you everything what happen in Jamaica”.
Rising Fire - Free Blackman (1980)
Killer Roots! I haven’t stopped singing this in the shower since hearing Jah Shaka drop it at a festival on The Isle of Wight this summer. Originally released back in 1980, this heavy dancehall re-work hits the spot with a tight studio production.
King Tubby - Blessed Dub (2001)
Osborne Ruddock aka King Tubby is widely regarded as the originator of this music form. He was not a musician as such, but an innovative studio engineer and sound system operator extraordinaire. Electronically educated and working from a small studio at the back of his house in Kingston, Tubby was articulate in constructing specially customised equipment to pioneer post mix productions. People flocked from all over to check out his Home Town Hi-Fi Sound System, which was louder and clearer than any around and notorious for dropping heavy dubplate sounds that continue to resonate, and indeed reverberate to this day.
Overnight Players - Shaka The Great (2004)
A thundering instrumental here from the Channel One studio. Situated along Maxfield Avenue, a dangerous area of Kingston, the session musicians would often lock themselves in after nightfall for their safety, hence their given name. This is a version of the first track from the album ‘Babylon Destruction’, produced by Crucial Bunny in 1981. What I love about this acoustic cut is the live and punchy feel it delivers every time.
Sly & The Revolutionaries – Sensi Dub (1989)
With Sly Dunbar on drums and Robbie Shakespeare on bass, The Revolutionaries helped create the ‘Rockers’ style that changed the whole Jamaican sound from Roots Reggae to Dub. This track was released in support of the 'Legalize It' ganja campaign. It proudly claims to promote “the herb of wisdom which was found on The Tomb of Solomon is for the healing of the nation”.
Scientist – Kosovo (1999)
This is the flipside version to ‘Mr Babylon’, produced by Thomas Morgan and featuring lesser known Robert French on vocals. Scientist (real name Overton Brown) was the protégé and leading engineer of King Tubby throughout the seventies. He eventually took over the reigns to become one of the most prominent producers of dub music to date. The first dub album I ever bought was by Scientist, his extensive discography has literally defined an era. Mix up.
Augustus Pablo – Tubb’s Dub
Known to many for his deeply spiritual beliefs, Pablo (real name Horace Swabi) was famed for his intrinsic use of the melodica as an instrument. To me, he was both a fantastic musician and producer, with vision, depth and clarity. His record shop and label ‘Rockers International’ virtually shaped the reggae sound of the seventies. Although a tad crackly here, this rare production is bass heavy yet retains an earthy, organic feel to the sound.
Burning Spear - Black Wa-Da-Da (1976)
Legend has it that Winston Rodney's career began when he bumped into Bob Marley whilst walking through a field - the two began talking about music and Marley encouraged him to visit Jamaica's infamous Studio One, and never looked back from then on. Watching him sing ‘Jah No Dead’ acapella on a rock with a spliff in the acclaimed film ‘Rockers’, is truly inspirational and simply takes your breath away. This track is taken from ‘Garvey's Ghost’, the follow up to the poignant 'Marcus Garvey' album released a year earlier. The drum pattern, courtesy of co-star Lee ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace baffles me each and every time.
Mad Professor - Tumbledown (1982)
I love this tune. Taken from the series of acclaimed ‘Dub Me Crazy’ albums, this was the Professor's very first LP. Growing up in Guyana and relocating to Peckham, he eventually opened up the mighty Ariwa Studios. It was from here that this track was mixed and produced - establishing the UK as the first hotbed for Dub outside of Jamaica. Today, he still holds down a world wide touring schedule that knackers me out just reading it. Besides collaborating with renowned artists such as Johnny Clarke, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Scientist, his whirlwind personality and a fascination of electronics might explain the diversity of his productions, having remixed the likes of The Orb, Massive Attack and even The Beastie Boys.
Pablo Gad - Hard Times (1981)
“Do you really want to know... about hard times?” Strictly rub-a-dub style here from a personal UK favourite, Mr Pablo Gad. He sang, deejayed and produced his own work throughout the eighties, featuring socially charged lyrics that are still relevant today more than a quarter of a century later. Riddim from the ghetto, lyrics from the streets.
Jah Shaka - Verse 5 (1982)
It is hard to find the words to explain how much of an inspiration Shaka has been to me. I first witnessed his Sound System in a field in Brighton many misty moons ago, hearing him chant conscious lyrics over a rumbling bass line that shook both my ear lobes. King of the Sound System as we know it, his award winning dances and numerous productions over the years have been a revelation to so many and for so long. This is my favourite track from The Commandments of Dub album series - pure Shaka in a session style! Use of syndrum and siren effects mixed over heavy bass and drum-led rhythms, Shaka rule.
Aswad - Warrior Charge (1980)
Finally, a tune to sum it all up. Aswad, meaning black in Arabic, are widely regarded as the UK's finest Reggae band. This track is featured in the final scene or Franco Rosso's seminal cult film ‘Babylon’. It epitomised the anti-establishment culture, aiming to bring awareness and understanding of the social situation in Britain at that time. The thunders claps, echoes, delays, horns and sirens combine perfectly to mash up any dance hall north east or south west.
One Love and Jah Guidance