Monday, 22 April 2019

The Best Of King Tubby (Trojan)

Bass and drum version....

  

This is an excellent compilation in the equally impressive series from the legendary Trojan label. As on all the releases, the sound quality is excellent, as indeed it needs to be on the deep bass-heavy dub from iconic dub master King Tubby (Osbourne Ruddock).

The music is so redolent of the punk/dub/roots reggae crossover era of 1977-80 when sound systems before punk gigs blasted out this solid, dense dub material endlessly. No punk gig was complete without these pounding bass lines filling the expectant pre-gig air. Similarly, no Notting Hill Carnival after dark in that era was complete without them.

To the uninitiated, King Tubby took the instrumental backing tracks from songs and tinkered with them, adding occasional repeated vocal lines, similar brass breaks, intoxicating crystal clear cymbal work and, of course, big, booming bass lines all over them, shaking your speakers almost out of service. That was dub reggae, and Tubby was one of its pioneering exponents, starting around 1970-71 to experiment with creating new rhythms. It became a whole genre in itself and many dubs were soon being made in their own right, simply instrumental tracks as opposed to the backing track of a well-known song (which is how the very first dub versions came about).

King Tubby released countless dubs in his own name over the years, but this collection concentrates on dubs which are credited the the music's original artists, but engineered into a dub with the help of Tubby. Only three of the album's impressive forty tracks are credited to Tubby alone. The artists involved are Rupie Edwards, Horace Andy, Dennis Brown, Augustus Pablo, Jackie Edwards, Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Crystalites, The Aggrovators, Johnny Clarke, Dillinger, The Upsetters, Max Romeo, Cornell Campbell, The Observers and Big Joe. Some veritable roots reggae names in there.

The sounds are all very atmospheric - Augustus Pablo's strange melodica sound hauntingly enhancing many of them, the typical "chicka chicka" guitar sounds very prevalent and the bass invariably thumping. Echo and reverb are all over them too. The cuts are not without melody, however, although, to be honest, more than half an hour or so of dub is probably pushing it a bit before you start to crave a bit of vocal. a good thing to do is stick several of these tracks in a playlist of roots reggae from artists such as The Congos, The Mighty Diamonds, The Gladiators, Israel Vibration, The Abyssinians, Prince Far I, Big Youth, U-Roy and I-Roy and you have a great playlist. Stick a few reggae-influenced track from The Clash, The Ruts and The Slits and you have one heck of a punky reggae party!

TRACK LISTING

1. Buckshot Dub - Rupie Edwards All Stars
2. Straight To The Capitalist Head - Horace Andy
3. Kingston Town Dub - King Tubby & The Dynamites
4. No Conscience - Dennis Brown & The Soul Syndicate
5. The Big Rip Off - Augustus Pablo
6. African Roots - Jackie Edwards
7. Panta Rock - Lee "Scratch" Perry
8. Dubbing with The Observer - The Observer All-Stars
9. Stalag 17 - The Techniques All-Stars
10. More Warning - Augustus Pablo & The Aggrovators
11. Blacula (Version) - The Crystalites
12. Coming Home - Dennis Brown & The Observers
13. Dr. Satan's Echo Chamber - King Tubby
14. I Trim The Barber - Jackie Edwards
15. Red Moon - King Tubby & The Dynamites
16. Casanova Dub - The Observer All-Stars
17. Curly Dub - Augustus Pablo
18. A Harder Version - Johnny Clarke & The Aggrovators
19. Bass And Drum Version - The Crystalites
20. Dub Organiser - Dillinger & The Upsetters
21. A Noisy Place - Horace Andy
22. My Time Version Observer Style - The Observer All-Stars
23. Spangy Dub - Rupie Edwards All Stars
24. Three Times Three - Max Romeo & The Upsetters
25. Dancing Roots - Cornell Campbell & The Aggrovators
26. Dub 68 - Horace Andy & The Observers
27. King Tubby's City Dub - King Tubby & The Dynamites
28. Tangle Locks - The Groovemaster
29. Roots Of Dub - The Aggrovators
30. Straight To Bunny Lee Head - Dennis Brown & The Observers
31. House Raid - Augustus Pablo
32. Drum Rock - The Upsetters
33. A Ruffer Dub - Johnny Clarke & The Aggrovators
34. Rebel Dance - The Observers
35. Nothing Is Impossible - King Tubby
36. Concentration (Version 3) - Dennis Brown
37. A Social Version - Johnny Clarke & The Aggrovators
38. Fire From The Observer - The Observers
39. Dub Star - King Tubby
40. Tubby At The Controls - Big Joe

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