Spoilers: "Night Nurse Dub“ (TABOU1) is not that Dub-Counterpart to Gregory Isaacs' already 40 (!) year old masterpiece „Night Nurse“ – even if the cover of the new release would have us believe that at first glance. Would have been a medium sensation in Reggaeland, if suddenly one Dubversion of the 1982 album would have surfaced. Today we can only guess how it would sound, but probably something like Godwin Lodge's extended mix of Material Man (B-side of the Night Nurse 10"):
Back to the new “Night Nurse Dub“: As in the original, the (today's remnants of) the Roots Radics recorded all the riddims here as well – namely a second time in the year 2000, together with other tracks from Isaacs' extensive catalogue. The intention was a tribute album, which, however, should not manifest itself until a few years later. Style Scott was quicker, grabbing the tapes of the instrumentals and releasing them on his own Lion & Roots label in 2001 as Style Scott & Flabba Holt: Nurse in Dub" brought out. I remember that there was a lot of fuss about this and there was even talk of theft. However, these tapes were recorded at On-U Sound Studios by Dub Syndicate's live keyboardist and sample launcher Alon Adiri mixed it - and it was shockingly lame. With Dub Syndicate recordings had precious little to do with these tracks; Adrian Sherwood himself was audibly not involved. The result was a boring, sparsely instrumented, and somewhat empty-sounding “Dub-Album" with few effective effects or samples - but with a disturbingly dominant bass drum:
Fast forward to 2003: the tribute album is finished and will be released under the title "We Sing Gregory“. Singers like Luciano, Don Carlos, Max Romeo, Sugar Minott, Bunny Rugs and last but not least Gregory Isaacs himself interpret the Cool Ruler classics, including the entire Night Nurse album. The result is a somewhat dull-sounding album mixed by Gaylord Bravo that doesn't want to ignite - by no means surprising, as Isaac's singing style and diction are unique and defy any new interpretation.
In 2018 there was an attempt to digitally distribute this album as "We Sing Gregory (Deluxe Remix Edition)": The 34-track mega pack includes numerous disco mixes mixed by Dartanyan Winston plus the previously released Gaylord Bravo mixes. This could have been a full album - both in terms of sound and playing time. In the end it was the dull sound again and the unexciting new mixes that weren't mastered in line with the older mixes. The part can be included in your audio library, but there is no good reason for it.
Which brings us finally to the year 2022 and the actual subject of this review. They are still the instrumental recordings from 2000 and the 2003 versions with vocals, here by Dartanyan Winston as a pure Dubs mixed. Has anything improved? No, it's still those sluggish, muffled-sounding recordings* – probably better than Alon Adiri's dreary 2001 mixes and certainly have more effects, but if it doesn't groove, then it doesn't groove. Of course, the album doesn't have it easy either, because it will always be compared with the 1982 original - and on this Rubadub / Lovers Rock milestone is hard to beat: Gregory Isaacs and the Roots Radics are unbeatable at their best.
*This review is based on the stream from bandcamp.com, which - even if you listen to it through a good sound system - leaves a lot to be desired in terms of sound.