Thursday, 18 April 2019

Dread Meets Punk Rockers Uptown

Rush I some dub....

  

This is an excellent compilation, curated by Don Letts, that presents some of most atmospheric roots/dub reggae numbers from the period 1975-1977 that were very much a part of the punk/roots reggae crossover that broke big in 1978. Punk band like the Clash, The Slits, The Ruts, Stiff Little Fingers, The Police and many more were influenced by the deep, bassy sounds of dub and roots reggae. The music is dripping with nostalgia for anyone, like myself, who was around, attending gigs during that incredibly exciting period. The p.a. systems before punk gigs regularly played this material non-stop. Before your favourite punk band took to the stage, there would often have been half an hour or more of solid roots/dub reggae blasting out of the venues speakers. Then, of course, there was Notting Hill carnival - cans of cold Red Stripe, plates of curry goat with rice and peas and enormous sound systems pumping out Big Youth, U-Roy, King Tubby and Culture.

It is a shame that the compilation couldn't be interspersed with some punky white reggae classics like The Clash's Armagideon Time or The Ruts' Jah Wars, but, then again, you can make a seriously good playlist yourself by doing just that, as I have. Otherwise, just play the sumptuous, ranking fare on offer here.

TRACK LISTING

1. Bag A Wire Dub - King Tubby
2. Marcus Garvey - Big Youth
3. Fade Away - Junior Byles
4. M.P.L.A. Dub - Tappa Zukie
5. Black Harmony Killer - Jah Stitch
6. Fisherman - The Congos
7. Wear You To The Ball - U-Roy
8. Rush I Some Dub - Tappa Zukie
9. Pure Ranking - Horace Andy
10. I Need A Roof - The Mighty Diamonds
11. King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown - King Tubby & Augustus Pablo
12. Train To Zion - U Brown
13. Two Sevens Clash - Culture
14. Deuteronomy - Sylford Walker
15. Police And Thieves - Junior Murvin
16. The Tackro - Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters

The stand out and well known classics on here are Junior Murvin's iconic Police And Thieves (also covered by The Clash), Culture's crucial groove Two Sevens Clash, King Tubby and Augustus Pablo's ground-breaking dub King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown and The Congos' melodic Fisherman.

There are also several examples of "toasting", the semi-spoken vocal accompaniment to a dubby beat in U-Roy's take on John Holt's Wear You To The Ball, Jah Stitch's beautifully bassy Black Harmony Killer and U Brown's Train To Zion. Dub is here with, amongst others, King Tubby's Bag A Wire Dub and Tappa Zukie's thumping M.P.L.A. Dub. The same artist's Rush I Some Dub is a pile-driving bassy dub too. Nice to hear the more melodious roots of The Mighty Diamonds' I Need A Roof.

The sound is pretty good, but some of the tracks still have that crackling sound that they always had. That just seems to add to the atmosphere. You would almost think Letts put them on there deliberately, as they are not on other issues of Two Sevens Clash, for example. Put this on, turn the bass up to full and imagine its 1978 again.

B+

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