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Five Star Reggae Review

Joe Yorke: Noise and Emptiness

Of course, falsetto isn't for everyone. That's why there isn't a single Cedric Myton track in my playlists, let alone one of his albums. The situation is different with falsetto backing vocals in the style of the early Aswad, Steel Pulse or Tamlins recordings - it just fits there, harmonic and tonally reliable head voice singing was delivered. See "Baltimore" - what would the track be without those harmonies?

Also Joe Yorke's debut "Noise and Emptiness' (Rhythm Steady) delivers flawless, accurate falsetto at times - both on lead and wonderfully accomplished backing vocals. But now that's us dubblog.de and voices interest us only peripherally; therefore it should be pointed out that the album with dubis interspersed with big instrumentals. It's all in the mix; it frees the release prophylactically from the dreaded falsetto overdose. Undoubtedly, Yorke's diverse responsibilities as singer, producer and composer contribute to the production's success; one or the other collaboration with mid-range vocalists will also play their part.

So there's a fresh wind blowing from England towards the international reggae community, which is particularly evident in the excellent production - everything is clean and, above all, not excessively arranged. This gives the sometimes fart already sparse instrumentation room to breathe - similar to what we saw in the bone-dry Rub-a-Dub of the early 1980s. And yes, you can hear some fat bass here too:

Of course, “Noise and Emptiness” is an offer that values Dub-Connoisseur has to let in first - it wasn't love at first sight for me either. But: The tunes have enormous potential for growth and have clung to the reviewer's ear canal. And so it is that the album is one of my personal favorites of the year and deserves a big recommendation.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

Horace Andy: Midnight Scorchers

Adrian Sherwood.

…and done! Sometimes it really only takes two words and a meaningful review has practically written itself - at least for the well-informed dubblog.de community. About Mr. Sherwood, his On-U Sound label and the oeuvre he produces - from Creation Rebel, New Age Steppers to African Headcharge, Singers & Players to the Dub syndicates; to Lee Perry, Bim Sherman and many others – there is probably no longer any need to waste big words. It's On-U Sound, man!

Doyen Sherwood himself has never lost relevance in his more than 30-year history as a producer - well, sometimes he has ventured into somewhat more obscure areas (such as his Collaboration with Pinch), but alone his productions with the Dub Syndicate and/or Lee Perry showed how much he works on the cutting edge and beyond. Who doesn't remember Perry's epochal "Rainford"-Release and its no less valuable counterpart "Heavy Rain"?

Now we have another fine double pack in front of us: The Horace Andy album "Midnight rockers' and its just-released counterpart 'Midnight Scorchers". The former surprises with a fairly classic sound by Sherwood standards, with Horace Andy at his best; the latter with, well, reinterpretations. A real Sherwood treatment goes far beyond that Dub-Borders, turns the innermost outside, lets shine in the vocal mix that has been buried, adds instruments and vocals (Daddy Freddy, Lone Ranger), fades out tracks in return and fattens up the whole sound compared to the original. All reasons why the term "Dub Album" doesn't go far enough and I think the more comprehensive "Counterpart" is more appropriate.

Finally, just the hard facts: "Midnight Scorchers" contains seven alternative versions of "Midnight Rocker" tracks plus three new tracks, all bearing the multi-ton On-U Sound seal of approval. Adrian Sherwood just... and done!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Five Star Review

Death by Dub: Abundance

I don't know what it is, but instrumentals or Dubs led by brass instruments seem to be absolutely trendy in 2022. I'm very happy about it, because I've always liked the brass sections in reggae. So good that I always regretted that the productions often give the horn sections so little space in the pieces. The fact that they then fell victim to keyboard fake brass instruments in the course of increasing commercialization is one of the dark chapters in reggae history. But now the time for compensation seems to have come: Youthie, Dub Vallila, The Super 20 and now: Death by Dub with the album "abundance" (Color Red). It's blowing from all directions at the moment. Influenced by the usual suspects, Perry and Tubby, and of course Tommy McCook and Rico Rodriguez, Dan Africano and Scott Flynn have formed a band that's completely different Dub and has dedicated brass. Dan Africano and Scott Flynn are veteran reggae musicians and (like Lee Hamilton and Craig Welsch of The Super 20) received their reggae apprenticeship from John Brown's Body. Around 2018 the two struck out on their own, moving to Denver, Colorado and forming Death By Dub. Now they present their debut album "Abundance". As with the "Whinds of Wareika" a variety of musicians have their hands in the game here. The arrangements are correspondingly opulent. But unlike the "Whinds", we are dealing with "Abundance" with real ones Dubs to do. The sound is tighter and the beats are heavier. I'm absolutely delighted with this album. It strikes the perfect balance between focus and openness. The rhythms are excellently produced and the brass melodies are composed with inspiration. Actually everything is correct here. In addition, the vibe of the whole album is so wonderfully positive and uplifting that it's just a pleasure to float through the summer with this music.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

Israel Vibration: The Same Song Dub

"And you don't know what tomorrow's gonna bring... Life is one big road..." - Cecil "Skelly" Spence.
The next mainstay of classic roots reggae has broken away and headed to its ancestors towards Mount Zion. Cecil "Skelly" Spence from Israel Vibration died on August 26th in a New York clinic at the age of almost 70. For this sad occasion I have for the umpteenth time the "Israel Vibration: The Same Song Dub“ belongs. I'll say it right away: A fascinatingly beautiful record that has accompanied me almost my entire "reggae life". Skelly's death hit me all the harder. This fragile man, to whom we owe such glorious songs as "The Same Song", "Why Worry", "I'll Go Through", "Prophet Has Arise" and many other beautiful songs, has died of complications from an untreatable cancer.

Kingston, Jamaica was the birthplace of reggae harmony group Israel Vibration. After a polio epidemic swept the island in the early 1950s, many children contracted polio. Polio vaccines were still in their infancy, and many children around the world were still contracting this insidious disease. Cecil "Skelly" Spence, Lascelle "Wiss" Bulgin and Albert "Apple Gabriel" Craig met as children when they met at the Mona Rehabilitation Clinic. In the 1970s they formed the roots reggae ensemble Israel Vibration.
After hearing the three men sing in a wooded area outside of Kingston, Hugh Booth, a member of the Twelve Tribes Of Israel, raised funds for the three boys and gave them the opportunity to record their first album. Their first release was the single Why Worry, recorded at Treasure Isle Studios in 1976 and released later that year on the Twelve Tribes label. Due to the popularity the group gained with the release of the single, many Jamaican artists such as Dennis Brown, Inner Circle and even Bob Marley asked them to open for one of their concerts.
Israel Vibration then began collaborating with producer Tommy Cowan, releasing the single "The Same Song" on his top-ranked label in 1977. The following year, 1978, they released the album of the same name. On "The Same Song" they were joined by members of the Inner Circle Band. The plate and you Dub- counterpart "The Same Song Dub' were internationally successful, leading to a partnership with EMI label Harvest to release the album in the UK.
Now for the Dub-Album: The relatively unknown Jamaican singer/songwriter Paul Donaldson sat at the mixing desk, of whom very little exists. But with the albums The Same Song and The Same Song Dub“ he has set a monument to himself, because both albums are great moments of reggae/Dub. For example, listen to my favorite song “Ball Of Fire” from the Dubalbum, you might hear that an opus like this doesn't show up in reggae heaven every day. Simply a masterpiece full of sadness and fragility. Skelly's voice fragments whizzing through the room make me humbly get on my knees again and again.
Note: There is a second, completely different mix of the album: "Fatman Riddim Section: Israel Tafari', also produced by Tommy Cowan and released on his top-ranked label. Both albums deserve the title "particularly valuable".

RIP Cecil "Skelly" Spence, your live performances will never be forgotten.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

Burning Spear: Original Living Dub Flight. 1

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”.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

Paul Fox: Dub B

Winchester UK based singer and producer Paul Fox is here at Dubblog a wrongly almost blank slate. The Roots, Reggae and Dub Artist has been releasing music under his own name since 1992 and has worked with many well-known artists and producers. The list of artists who have been in the studio with Paul Fox includes such illustrious names as: Nick Manasseh, Robert Tribulation, Michael Rose, Rod Taylor, Fullness, Dubheart, Jonah Dan, Brother Culture and Alpha & Omega, with whom Paul Fox also toured Europe in 2008. His sound was heavily influenced by Jah Shaka, Nick Manasseh, Jah Observer and Aba Shanti. He was so impressed by their music and vibes that in the late 1980s he began experimenting with a four-track recorder at home in private. It was with Julian Ryan, a friend and musician who introduced him to Jonah Dan, that he first tried his hand at reggae and Dub. Percussionist Jonah Dan had a small studio in west London and the three met regularly every week to record roots reggae and related Dubs from it. After releasing recordings together under the project name "Shades of Black" for a few years, they parted ways in the early 2000s and each went into business for himself by founding his own studio. In the meantime, more than 50 albums have been released on which Paul Fox appeared, be it as a producer, sound engineer or singer.

I haven't mentioned it yet, but I've been paying more attention to Paul Fox for a long time - also because of his immensely pleasant voice. I was all the more amazed that I was able to see the release of his two current albums "SameBlood"And"Dub B“ I literally overslept from last December. From everything I've heard from Paul Fox so far, "Dub Blood" can undoubtedly be counted among his best recordings. Paul's soft voice floats again and again through the room and evaporates in melodic, dubbig soundscapes. The sound is vaguely reminiscent of Jah Shaka, but also Mad Professor - so more English Dub par excellence. I don't want to mention every track explicitly, because each one has its own special appeal. I would just like to highlight my very personal favorite as Primus inter Pares. "Living in a Dub Zone", the counterpart to "Warzone Part Two Refugees" from the song album "Same Blood". Starting with the fine sound of an Arabic oud or Turkish saz and really rich binghi drums, the lyric leads us throughout the song: "Still wondering if all of these wars gonna cease - still wondering if I'm ever gonna live to see peace". and explosive sounds of war in the middle of the current situation in Eastern Europe, ie Ukraine. Of course, the theater of war could rather reflect the fatal situation in Syria, because arabesque sounds can be found at several points on the album. It doesn't matter, the song grabs me with full force every time.
I would like to mention one more thing, the attentive listener will also appreciate the wonderful binghi drumming on “Burning Dub' and 'Soon is the Dub“ not to be missed. In general, I really like the percussions on all the tracks on the album. "Dub Blood" takes a musical turning point in the middle of the album, because the rest of the tracks sound slightly symphonic from there.

Conclusion: It has been a long time since such a nice, up-to-date “RootsDub-Album". In my opinion the best album of 2022 so far.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

Soul Sugar: Excursions in Dub

When the “Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk & Dub' by Soul Sugar, it was love at first sight. I was enthusiastic about the velvety retro sound, the sounds of the Hammond organ reminiscent of Jackie Mittoo and the very unorthodox arrangements for reggae - and of course the sounds from the other genres mentioned in the title. However, I refrained from writing a review at the time. But now it is mandatory, because (since December) there is an official one Dub-version of the great album before, Soul Sugar: "Excursions in Dub" (Gee Recordings).

I have to backtrack a little. Behind Soul Sugar is a "collaborative collective" at the center of which is the Frenchman Guillaume Metenier. He studied with jazz organ legend Dr. Lonny Smith and dedicated his first steps entirely to the Hammond funk of the 1960s and 70s. In the meantime he has drifted more and more towards reggae and now produces a mix & match sound between Studio One and Jackie Mittoo on the one hand and Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, i.e. jazz, funk and soul, on the other. Just how close Guillaume Metenier is to reggae can be seen from the cast list for the two albums mentioned. There Sly & Robbie, Blundetto and Roberto Sanchez are part of the party - and in addition to Slikk Tim and Thomas Naim, of course, Metenier himself, who is responsible for the organ solos under his now familiar alias Booker Gee. A fantastic album, now in its reincarnation as Dubversion is increased again. And that even in a very tangible sense, because it contains two more titles than the original. One of them is Jahno's "Peace Treaty", a brilliant reworking of the Jackie Mittoo version he recorded for Bunny Lee in the mid-1970s. the DubBy the way, s were mixed by the musicians themselves - which is obvious, because Sanchez, Blundetto and Janho are experienced Dub-Producers. In terms of sound, the original and Dubversion, by the way, close to each other. the Dub-Masters didn't reinvent their own templates at all. The mixes are more classically restrained. Usually only the solos are a bit shortened. Only the "Matumbee" remix by Blundetto differs significantly from the original due to its reduction. For me that's absolutely okay, since the original can hardly be topped anyway.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

Ambient Warrior: Dub Journey's

Now we have further proof that our fine little sub-genre Dub is timeless and limitless. The Australian Isle of Jura label has proved this with the official new edition of an extremely unusual DubAlbums by Ambient Warrior: Dub Journey's, which was originally released in 1995 on the English label Lion Inc. The album is basically deep in the Dub rooted, but uses a much broader spectrum, which equally absorbs the most diverse musical influences and styles from all over the world and combines them into these wonderful soundscapes. The concept for Ambient Warrior was created as a side project for Ronnie Lion and Andreas Terrano. Ronnie Lion, who is not entirely unknown, noticed pretty quickly during the recording that Andreas Terrano is a very talented guitarist and keyboardist, and so the two quickly agreed to create an oeuvre that reflects the diverse musical influences of both protagonists. Andrew is z. B. Italian, Armenian and Russian descent what on Dub Journey's is unmistakably expressed. Insiders know Ronnie Lion from Brixton as the label owner from the beginnings of the British neo-Dub.

Since the earliest Dubtry from King Tubby, Lee Scratch Perry, Augustus Pablo, Prince Jammy and whatever their names are, we know that good one Dub must touch you deep down. That's why Ronnie Lion's slogan: "This is Ambient Warrior...coming to You from the Heart", presented in a distinctive voice (Dennis Rootical) reminiscent of Prince Far I, takes me from the start on (m)an unforgettable pilgrimage to Kailash. (Kailash: The Tibetans regard it as the holiest mountain, it is worshiped by Hindus, Buddhists and Bon, it is the headwaters of the four largest rivers of the Indian subcontinent.) Excuse me, Kailash? Yes, because these typical sounds of the Tibetan prayer bells are omnipresent and ring out again and again. The album is cast in one piece and gives me a pleasantly warm, meditative mood. Andreas Terrano weaves very soft guitar solos and synthesizer/keyboard sounds together into wonderful soundscapes. What was very good for the album's versatility is also due to the fact that many musicians of different genres and instruments were involved in the recordings. In addition to South American elements such as tango and bossa nova (Eastern Dub; cajun Dub); we also hear harp (Cajun Dub), Russian accordion (Bayan; Southern Dub), vibraphone and jaw harp (The Good, the Bad and the Dub).

My quintessence of the album is: Great Dub-Albums creep up on you very slowly. You can play them once and they're "quite nice". Play it umpteen times and very slowly a picture forms: small details emerge, the spirit of the Dub and the bliss of repetition make their way into your soul.

It's nice that there are still labels that make it their business to make such extremely rare, unique ones Dub-To save sounds from oblivion. Therefore, for the Ambient Warrior re-release, Isle of Jura gets: Dub Journey's albums six stars out of five from me.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

Root Makers: DubAbout EP

The Roots Makers got me before with their eponymous debut – an instrumental plus related Dub-Album - quite happy. Colleague Helmut Philipps even included the Roots Makers in his top 5 of 2021, which I can understand only too well. Everything was right there, and if the constantly nagging reviewer had anything to complain about, it would have been the lack of vocals or vocal snippets. So classic Dub stop, if you want to put it that way.

Now it is the case that we in the dubblog.de usually don't review EPs or singles and limit ourselves to albums. But here, as an exception, I would like to focus on an EP - if you don't take it so precisely, you could from the "Dubbers” EP (self-published) and the associated vocal counter part, the “Summer lovers“-EP, conjure up an 8 track album. Both releases are of the highest quality - and if you already have such a vocal template, you can use the Dub-Range actually nothing can go wrong:

And indeed, the Dubs are the best in the classic Roots area that I've heard in a long time. Everything is right there: nice mix, fine effects, bass lines that can be hummed along and the vocal sprinkles create the connection to the vocal versions. Do I hear someone say Roots Radics? But yes, the comparison is more than permissible, the vibe even reminds me slightly of Bunny Wailer's fine "Rock'n'Groove” album, I can also hear the classic 80's lovers rock and a little Aswad backing vocals.

So everything good? But yeah - an album... err... an EP that I can't refuse 5 stars for.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

High Tone Meets Zenzile: Zentone, Chapter 2

One has to state: Corona also has its good! These two (!) Albums, namely: High Tone Meets Zenzile - Zentone, Chapter 2 (Jarring Effects). What a brilliant one Dub-Plant! Emerging from the most depressing of all pandemics, fifteen years after "Chapter 1". Apparently the nine musicians have the two most prominent ones Dub-Bands of France could not stand it any longer in the loneliness of their home offices and locked themselves in a studio in Lyon for a week, unbelievably, to make music with each other face to face. Without a lot of studio rocket science (in contrast to "Chapter 1"). Instead with a simple sound system setting, spontaneous, direct and improvised. All that mattered was the interpersonal vibe. The result is breathtaking. Two albums full of fantastic, inspired compositions with a total of 22 tracks that are bursting with warmth, intensity and real beauty. The catalyst of this quality was apparently the pure pleasure in personal encounters - perhaps paired with a few musical ideas from everyone involved during the lockdowns. Substance instead of effect was the motto. All tracks were produced live and then mixed on analog consoles. The sound is warm, complex and full of dynamics. Everything is just right here. And of course the inclusion of singers fits in with such an approach. Yes indeed! I am actually Dub-Purist, but here Nai-Jah, Nazamba, Jolly Joseph and Rod Taylor make an absolutely essential contribution to the musical diversity, without sacrificing the Dub-Vibe to belittle even the slightest. Her performances - especially nai-jahs and nazambas - are simply terrific.

Okay, but now I have to deal with the two Albums are cleared up: Zenzile and High Tone recorded a total of ten rhythms during their week in Lyon. Zenzile then pre-decapitated all ten pieces, mixed them and put them together into an album, which can be bought as a CD or download. High Tone, on the other hand, only took on the four rhythms for which a singer was recorded and presented them in showcase style: vocal version, instrumental version, DubVersion - and thus comes to twelve tracks, which are offered as double vinyl (but they can also be purchased as a download). But to complicate things nicely, there is one more thing Streaming variant. This consists of the ten Zenzile mixes and the four vocal versions of High Tone. Understood?

real Dub-Nerds will of course compare the mixes with each other and find that High Tone goes to work more traditionally and aims at the use of sound systems with its mixes, while Zenzile tends to take a more playful, sofa-compatible approach. But I can't decide which one I like better - that's why I always listen to both albums one after the other.

Rating: 5 out of 5.