In 1997 Black Echoes published a six part series of articles on Dub written by Snoopy. In addition to the review of Jim Dooley's "The Small Axe Guide To Dub" we (re)publish the second instalment of that series, in which Snoopy included one of the most comprehensive lists of Dub albums.
Rubbin' The Dub... by Snoopy (Black Echoes, July 16 1977)
Research for this section of the articles was the most difficult. The amount of Dub albums (despite the lengthy research) is still virtually impossible to assess since mostly the large proportion of recorded work is only available in Jamaica. But through various reliable resources, the remote collection gradually increased and the result is a fairly comprehensive list of albums. Some vocal albums, which also contain dub tracks, have been included in the list as many of these albums often contain dreader-dread sounds. It was decided that it would be best to list the albums in some order of merit, hence less esoteric Dub freaks would be able to consult the compilation for purchase reference.
The task of selecting the 20 best Dub albums was a long, carefully co-ordinated, complicated and often tedious job, but after some eights months of arranging, re-arranging, re-mixing and shuffling the end result is there for you to see. The choices are somewhat inevitable, with King Tubby featuring quite a bit in the list. And whilst capturing the essence of Dub music, and spotlighting its appeal, the Top 20 also includes a grand variety of good Reggae music, including such varied types as Pablodic Rockers, Rocksteady, Channel One, Instrudub, Agrovators Muzik, Mighty Two Soundwarps, Strickly Rockers Dub, and maniac Super Ape soundz. All are highly recommended as essential additions to your Reggae collection -- the Top 10 at least -- and will indisputably delight and please you. So for your edification...
Lee Perry -- the sneaky Super Ape -- has two of his many Dub albums in the Top 20. His use of mixing desk is positively unique in many aspects -- he is certainly an original innovator of Dub music. His "Blackboard Jungle" LP was among the first Dub abums and although very hard to come by (buy) is well worth seeking. "Revolution Dub" is an enigmatic album, focusing upon the Upsetter's masterful way with rhythm, and also highlighting his zany, inventive ideas and skilful mixing techniques. Play "Doctor On The Go" or "Woman's Dub" at full blast when you're feeling irie and it hit you like ah clappers!
Bunny Lee is another producer prominent in the chart. He has three of his better albums in the 20 -- "King Tubby Meets The Agrovators At Dub Station" remaining his classic best. The whole album is an amalgamation of Tommy McCook's jazzy horns, well wicked Agrovators rhythms, venemously transformed and interpreted by King Tubby's console. Try "The Dub Station" (Goldfinger has a lot to answer for...) or the climactic "Height Of Dub" for dubwize size, and you'll understand why it stands at No. 3 in the chart. Station to station dub -- forward on the track. "Dub from The Roots -- the infamous "Dubmaster" LP -- ranks at No. 6 because it was a giant step for Tubbs in experimentation dubwize, incorporating all manner of electronic sound effects and more, wild spontaneous mixing. "African Roots" is the most astonishing track which I heard Prince Melody play seven times on the trot at the 1976 Ladbroke Grove carnival/riot, if that's anything to go by.
Lloydie Coxsone's "King Of The Dub Rock" was initially heard by avid listeners of Capital Radio's "TV on Reggae" high-rank programme. Various tracks, incredibly remixed for the programme, were sandwiched between the more familiar dubwize sounds, and the effect was phenominal. When the LP was released the following week, the primary amount pressed completely sold out in two days. Such was the appeal of the album, absolutely special -- not only because Lloydie Coxsone was/is regarded as King of the Dub Rock, but it also happened to be marvellous music. "Capital Radio Rock" is an astonishing example of the album's speciality. Consisting of evervescent melodica wildly blasting over a driving rhythm, the focal point was the reserved violins hectically echoed out of all proportion. An insane and excruciating concoction. The other standout tracks, "Many Moods Of Coxsone" and "Tribute To Mohammed Ali", were later released back to back on 45 by Shelly -- straight to Safari's head.
Keith Hudson "Pick A Dub" barely scraped the Top Three. It is hailed by all Roots lovers as not only a definable heavy Dub LP, but also a classic Reggae LP. Hudson is, in my mind's eye, one of the most original and productive people in the music biz. His productions slant on the eccentric, his lyrical / musical creations are usually highly stylized. His few solo albums have mostly integrated dubwize tracks within their concept, and albums such as "Flesh Of My Skin", "Entering The Dragon" and "Torch Of Freedom" shine as extremely listenable ones, with the additions of weighty instrudubs acting as some heavenly mercy from Mr. Hudson's forever controversial "singing". The latest LP "Brand" -- dubwize -- is spectacular 21st century music (ahead of its time?), but compared with the previous "Pick A Dub" is not as good. "Pick A Dub" was greeted with unanimous applause from Dub lovers everywhere -- the adventurous mixing the focal point of the album. Featuring such talented musicians as Augustus Pablo, Peter Tosh, and showcasing the drumming of Carly Barrett and Family Man's liquid bass, the Dubmuzik was aggresive, powerful and intensely rhythmic; and with the astonishing mix there to enhance its energy and motivate its appeal, the result was No. 1 high-rank Dub. Featured vocalists included Horace Andy, Keith Hudson (ugh...) and Big Youth -- the music was fierce, the mix was mighty, the album was the perfect Dub construction. Check out cuts like the rude "Pick A Dub", the chucky "Black Heart", the devastating "Blood Brother", the eerie "I'm All Right" or the ultimately beautiful "Depth Charge", based loosely on the Four Tops' equally impressive "Still Waters".
Augustus Pablo is the originator of the "rockers" sound and probably Reggae's most top-rank genius. His music is wholly unique, a sound all his own. His productions tend to be recognisable and eternally listenable efforts -- and Pabs just doesn't make bad records. Whether he is recording another artist or himself, the classic 'genius' element never fades. A small, smart man with extreme talent in music and imagination -- yes, the Higher Ranking Rocker. His "King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown" LP is only available in the United States, it's not even released in Jamaica. As far as import frequency goes, the score is virtually nil. But the album is as classic as an album can be, the near summit Dub LP -- including such amazing tracks as "Braces Tower Dub", the great "Each One Dub", and the seductive "555 Dub Street". Strictly Yard Music.
It would be Top of the Pops if it weren't for wily Winston Edwards and his legendary LP entitled "King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grass Roots Of Dub". As soon as the LP hit the streets -- via the pre-release market -- it was hailed as a Dub LP with that extra-special something which most other albums of the ilk tended to lack. It had style, it had original ideas, it contained real rootsy rockin' Reggae, and the mixture of these top-quality ingredients made it well-worthwhile. With the music put together by Winston Edwards with assistance from Lee Perry -- and primary mixing by The Upsetter -- the hard rhythms were dramatically realised in the form of dubwize mixes by the ubiquitous King Tubby. Using such superb musicians as Santa, Family Man, Bobby Ellis, Tommy McCook, etc., etc., etc., the alum was ideal for the Roots fans, with strictly Now Music. Tubby's techniques were portrayed in all their glorious spleandour, the Reggae music totally transformed and interpreted in Tubbs unique fashion. He would curl, swirl, whirl, twirl, explode, corode, erode, ignite, excite -- upset and agrovate -- slipping vibrant echo to shatter the instruments, and jamming reverberation to re-duplicate the melodies. Echo-delay was inserted to add to the confusion. DUB MASTER in session... creating such classics as "No Justice For The Poor", "People From The Grass Roots", "African Roots", "Raw Roots", "Luke Lane Rock", "King Tubby & The Upsetter At Spanish Town", and "Wood Roots".
The prime openers to each side were symbolic successes: "People From The Grass Roots" was a total Titanic tormentor. Destruction in Dub -- the whirring cymbals hysterically attacked by the crippling hiss in the mix; the bass heavily bouncing with steady, gushing gusto; the saxophone and trumpet frequently demolished by nerve-nibbling reverb; the erratic rhythm guitar whipped perversely echoic; the constantly rocking drums spattered and spliced with acute accuracy as they slip through the rhythmic loops and splash against the sides -- a devastating dense, defeaning Dub of Tubbs creation. "Blood Of Africa" used roughly the same mixing magic -- only with a more persistent rhythm and a lolloping, creamy trombone replacing the saxophone and trumpet. But the ultimate Dub satisfiction came with the superior "Crime Wave", an ecstatic next version to "A Touch Of Roots". The ocean-deep bass virtually orgasmic in its throbbing heaviness, deep and dark with freaky, low echo making it tremble, rumble and tumble. Capable of rattling your insides; seducing the most frigid whale to a frenzy of excitement; penetrating the sound-barrier; mesmerizing and hypnotizing all listeners -- a bass-riff of Meditation. What a revelation! The drums rollin', rockin', tickin', tockin', snipped and tapped by the console in metronomic, calculable stops and starts. The sleazy, easy, wheezy trombone sweeping and weeping into the air in erotic, spitting slides, often hectically destructed by the wavering echo and spine-shock echo-delay and reverb. What a sensation! The puncy, chopping keyboards densely swelling and elevating as they are given the Kenwood treatment by Tubbs -- without anaesthetic -- a fertive form of liquidiation. "Crime Wave": the criteria by which Tubbs demonstrates his indestructible and effortless power. Violence in Dub -- all manner of music torture and tormentation. War in Reggae. Dubwize riot -- well wicked!!
If, for some absurd reason, you have yet to discover the wonders of Dub music, or have simply dismissed it as a noisy mess: investigate "King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grass Roots Of Dub" and all will be revealed. Should you remain unimpressed, then I can only surmise that you are not a true Reggae fan. Not at aaalll!
Source : Black Echoes.
Black Echoes Top 20: