Kanka is one of my favorites. A preference of mine, for which I have often had to justify myself. After all, Kanka stands for a very hard stepper sound, which is often dismissed as "soulless" in the scene. I see it differently and appreciate Kanka for knowing how to code this highly energetic music out of bits and bytes. I also admire his mixing virtuosity, which is absolutely impressive, especially live. Normally the Frenchman acts alone. I imagine like that Dub-Nerd sits alone in his studio at night and tweaks beats until his fingers are sore or his ears fall off. But now he puts his music in the service of the melodica player Art-X. And suddenly sounds on "Daydream(ODGPROD) all so gentle and cultivated. Where has "my" Kanka gone? And let's be honest, it's actually quite clear why the melodica is considered a children's instrument. Their sound spectrum is really extremely small, which inevitably means that you quickly get fed up with their sound. That's why I can't get much out of the less concise melodies Art-X. In short: I would have preferred a "normal" Kanka album.
Yes, let's continue with Oldies but Goldies. After the murder of Donald "Tabby" Shaw in March of this year and Fitzroy "Bunny" Simpson, who died of natural causes a few days later, the singing trio The Mighty Diamonds is unfortunately only history. Formed in Trenchtown in 1969, the group has played to tens of thousands of people around the world for more than 50 years of their career. The sudden death of the two protagonists strengthened my will again to deal more intensively with The Mighty Diamonds and their early Dub-Albums to deal with. After I'm in Dubblog already "Deeper Roots (Back to the Channel)' about the green clover, this time I pounced on 'The Icebreakers with the Diamonds: Planet Mars Dub' (Virgin Records) from 1978. Yes, I know, 'Tabby' and many others found the song album 'Planet Earth', the very first album recorded at the newly completed Compass Point Studio, to be quite overproduced. Ok, I don't know the original tapes and I don't know what else Virgin Records did to the recordings. What I do know is: “Planet Earth” and its Dub-pendant "Planet Mars Dub’ were pretty easy to find in well-stocked record stores back then – even without pre-ordering. That may be one of the reasons why both albums were often on my turntable and why I still know every note on them very well to this day. The album gave many reggae fans the "Dub-Access" facilitated.
As I said, Chris Blackwell's Compass Point Studio had just started up in the Bahamas. The Icebreakers - basically an offshoot of the Revolutionaries - provided the backing band, Karl Pitterson produced and sat at the mixing desk. Karl Pitterson is also one of my heroes who has received far too little attention. After all, he's been on albums like: Rico: Man From Wareika; "Bob Marley & Wailers: Exodus"; "IJahman: Are We A Warrior"; "The Abyssinians: Declaration Of Dub"; "Sly & Robbie: Raiders Of The Lost Dub' and many other albums.
Pitterson's Mixings are always refreshing. Listening back to the “Planet Mars Dubs” reflects the same relaxed style attributed to the Mighty Diamonds. Here, however, with a different approach, because the main drivers of any mix are reverb, echo, and delay. Pittersons Dub-Versions show not only the vocal talents of the Mighty Diamonds trio, but also the strong instrumental virtuosity of the Icebreakers. The album flows at a perfect tempo from song to song and the vocal snippets constantly floating through the room once again make it clear to both eyes and ears how incredibly dense the harmony singing of the Mighty Diamonds was at the height of their career in the late 1970s.
The overall sound of the album is unmistakably shaped by Karl Pitterson, who would soon be appreciated for his refined and richly produced style. Perhaps the atmosphere at Compass Point Studios was an oasis of relaxation compared to the political powder keg of Kingston at the time. Anyway: “Planet Mars Dub” manages it quite successfully, tight vocal harmonies and strong musical accompaniment with (at the time) cutting-edge Dub- technology to combine.
One more note: “Planet Earth” and “Planet Mars Dub' are pretty odd chapters in the history of the Mighty Diamonds. The Icebreakers will be on the “Planet Mars Dub” is mentioned first and “The Mighty Diamonds” are listed simply as “Diamonds”. One speaks of legal reasons.
Let's continue with: Melodica! Yes, the British reggae producer I David also has a fondness for this instrument. That's why his new album "Dub Lockdown' (Idavid Productions), which he recorded with Dougie Conscious, also with a melodicaDub. But fortunately track 2 already offers another lead instrument: the synth keyboard. "Oh my god", you inevitably think, "what kind of album is this going to be?" In fact, the album isn't going to be that bad. There are always melodicas and synths to be heard, but in between there are other pieces with good bass lines and nice arrangements. I wonder if the two producers just combined their solo productions here, because that's the only way to explain why about 50 percent of the album is good, while the other half...
Although the first months of 2022 me in terms of Dub left quite at a loss, if not downright disappointed, there seems to have been a real boost of very good releases in the last few weeks: At first they were convincing JonQuan & Associates at full length, then delivered Dub Vallila a fine album and now Youthie & Macca Dread's latest set "The Roots Explorers' out of the speakers. What an eclectic mix of reggae, jazz, Dub and world music in the broadest sense, which corresponds to the predecessor "Nomad Skank“ is in no way inferior.
Ras Vorbei's apt review of "Nomad Skank" could be reproduced here 1:1, especially since the protagonists are the same as back then: Youthie - a gifted musical craftswoman - works on trumpet, flute and accordion, producer Macca Dread takes care of the congenial sound . All in all, it's like an acoustic journey around the world, with rough stays in various francophone countries, with the Celts and with the - how do you say politically correct these days? – well, with the “Mobile Ethnic Minorities”. In any case, there is no boredom here, the compositions, arrangements and musical ideas are far too sophisticated for that. Thanks to the dynamics that are well preserved in the mixdown, "The Roots Explorers" doesn't sound tiring even after repeated listening: decent bass and punch on the drums - what more could spoiled ears want?
And yet you have to consciously get involved with this album - it's one of the (more or less) intellectual kind. Lovers of bare bones riddims of the classic kind could be a little overwhelmed by the musical opulence and ask the legitimate question what all this has to do with Dub had to do. Not much, dear readers, not much. Rather, "The Roots Explorers" is one of the best and most diverse instrumental albums in the reggae genre, hands down.
What does Addis Pablo stand for – the son of Augusts Pablo? That's right: melodica! Which brings us back to the topic. A few weeks ago his album “Melodies from the House of Levi“ (Jahsolidrock) and it ties in seamlessly with its predecessor. Years after "In My Father's House" it's about a house again, the album is again adorned with a beautiful cover artwork by Abbayahudah, it was again recorded in the Tuff Gong Studio and Addis Pablo plays melodica again - and again it's a inverted showcase album. "Inverted"? As a matter of fact! The label Jahsolidrock from Amsterdam had a clever idea here: Knowing that no one would survive an album with non-stop melodica play, producer Marc Baronner decided to follow each malodica track with the original vocal version - i.e. in "inverted" order . This makes it possible to elevate Addis Pablo to the title hero and still use the best tracks from the back catalogue. Good marketing, but also a good decision from an aesthetic point of view, because the album benefits enormously from this mix. Pablo pales in comparison to the originals, but the overall work is extremely entertaining.
A few months ago, while searching for Sly & Robbie albums, I came across the classic "Carl Campbell: Zion Dub“ excavated. The album is extremely rare and was previously only released on LP in a limited edition on Carl's Records in 1978. For a short time it was again available on CD in 2017. Carl's Records was apparently quite short-lived. Only one more album was released, "357 Magnum Dub", which Winston Riley of the Technics co-produced and published with Carl Campbell.
The recordings for “Zion Dub' emerged on Channel One in the late '70s and the list of musicians making up the Revolutionaries incarnation reads like the champions league of Jamaican session musicians of the time. Sly & Robbie formed the backbone of the band, joined by Chinna Smith, Tony Chin, Keith Sterling, Augustus Pablo, Winston Wright, Sticky, Skully & Tommy McCook. The result is an excellent, heavyweight RootsDub-Album that sounds like an early issue of the Roots Radics with Scientist at the Controls. All tracks begin with a toast from Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-raised DeeJay Mikey Jarrett. The comments on: "Darker Shade Of Black", "Ten To One" and "Hot Milk" etc. are all entertaining and lighten up the whole album.
DeeJay Mikey Jarrett is a reggae legend. As the A&R man for the well-known Channel One Studio, he gave artists like Lone Ranger and others the opportunity to record their first records there. His first own single "Ku Bly Klan', made in New York in 1974 by Lloyd Barnes for the legendary Bullwackies label, was a hit and now fetches very high prices on the collectors' market.
Michael Sandler is a Los Angeles-based house producer who occasionally Dub-Albums released. just now isIn Dub Flight. 3' (Tierra Sounds) was released. I usually find the productions of musicians from other genres quite exciting, as they often break out of the well-known canon (thanks to ignorance) and consequently often produce unconventional music. This could also be the case with SAAND, although his Dubs are not really original. But they are fluffy and put you in a good mood. Five tracks on one EP for quick consumption in between, a snack for the little ones Dub-Hunger.
The first thing that struck me about "Bass It Up(Roar Like a Bass) on Arky Starch's new album was its tight sound. The bass player from Belgium seems to have outstanding mastering skills! Respect. But then I saw that exactly this part is nobody else's responsibility than Mr. Dubmatrix. But the super Dubber from Toronto only gild what already has decent substance. Arky Starch gave him eleven solid Dubs delivered. Beautifully melodic compositions, enriched with varied samples, arranged and mixed, all very uplifting and in a good mood. Good this way.
There are albums with a long history. "El Michels Affair meets Liam Bailey – Ekundayo Inversions (Instrumentals)(Big Crown Records) is one such. Soul musician Liam Bailey released his debut album Ekundayo on Big Crown Records in late 2020. In the summer of 2021, another of the label's artists, El Michels Affair, grabbed the tapes and produced an exciting one, Ekundayo Inversions Dubversion of the album. Chapter 3 follows: The Ekundayo Inversions (Instrumentals). So this is the third edition of the "Ekundayo" tracks, because the basis are both instrumental versions from the Ekundayo album and the Ekundayo Inversions album, but now as instrumental versions. If you compare all three incarnations, it is noticeable that they do not differ that much from each other. The original always sets the tone - but that's anything but negative, because the Ekundayo productions are simply great. Small, innovative masterpieces in the no man's land between retro gimmick and experiment, between reggae and soul, between aha and oh! In any case, I can listen to them again and again with great pleasure. Sounds like that clear my ears when too much bass babble has accumulated there. And while in reggae the instrumentals are usually the most boring version, in this case they might even be the most exciting.
Hip Hip Hurray, what a happy day. Burning Spear, the "Master of Roots" is back. His last studio album, Jah is Real, was released in 2008. After that, things got pretty quiet about the “Master of Wailing” because he withdrew to his old age and “retired”. The 77-year-old has finally changed his mind and is touring again. Hopefully many more people will have the opportunity to experience a Burning Spear concert live. Most concerts I've seen with Burning Spear have been mystical events. Burning Spear and his virtuoso Burning Band have never disappointed me live.
Due to the joyful occasion, I have spent the last few days reading Burning Spears works once again - and for the Dubblog naturally prefers the “Living Dubs” – listen very carefully.
Burning Spear released his first self-produced Marcus' Children in Jamaica in 1978. Iceland released the LP entitled "Social Living" and was promptly hailed by many as a roots masterpiece. The album is still rightly considered one of the best reggae works from this era.
Shortly after the release of Marcus' Children, Winston Rodney released Living Dub Vol. 1", mixed by Silvan Morris, among the people. This original mix is also what the 2003 release "Burning Spear: Original Living Dub Flight. 1“ (Nocturne), which can actually still be found on the streaming services. "Living Dub Volume 1” in its original version is undoubtedly Spear's Dub-Explosion. The riddims and grooves presented are the purest essence of hypnotic music from the Burning Spear brand. These incredible Dubs transcend the human spirit into the other dimension of musical experience. There they are, those immortal bass and drum rhythms, those echoes and reverbs, with Spear's vocal track fading in and out of the mix, and most importantly, that unique vibe that only Burning Spear can deliver. "(Original) Living Dub Volume 1” is definitely one of those albums that I would take with me to the desert island. Let yourself be enchanted and keep the Spear burning!
Quick note on the Barry O'Hare remixed version: The 1992s "Living Dub volume one' has a slightly different track list than the original mix and of all things the Rasta song 'Irie Nyah Keith' - my favorite song from the original album - which Spear previously sang in Studio One entitled 'Zion Higher' - is missing and replaced by 'Run Come Dub“ replaced. We also find an additional title on the release: “Hill Street Dub“. Ok, of course collectors also need this completely remixed album released by Heartbeat. O'Hare's interpretation is by no means bad, but sounds different due to its digital purity. That's why reggae purists tend to call it "Original Living Dub Vol. 1”.