Original Rockers (Deluxe Edition)
CD / Digital Release
February 29, 2016
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4/5||Sleeve : 5|
The late great Augustus Pablo will be remembered as the somewhat frail-looking rastaman, who made an amazing contribution to roots reggae, both as a melodica/keyboards player and as a producer with an immediately recognizable style. When he passed away on May 18th, 1999 the reggae community was shocked. Born 1954, St. Andrew, Jamaica, to a wealthy middle-class family, Horace Swaby aka Augustus Pablo, often in ill health, not only was responsible for putting the melodica on the musical map, thus creating an highly individual reggae style, but he also played a key role in the musical history of Jamaica. In his role as musician and producer he has helped to shape reggae so much that his music can easily be described as "The Sound Of The Seventies".
The legend began in 1969 when a youthful Horace Swaby was standing in Herman Chin-Loy's Aquarius record shop at 9 Constant Spring Road in Kingston, holding a melodica that had been lent to him by a young girl. Herman Chin-Loy, who had a much-deserved reputation for experimenting with new sounds, asked the slightly-built teenager if he could play it and was so taken with the musical response that he booked recording time that same week at Randy's Studio 17 on North Parade in the heart of downtown Kingston. With a tune entitled "Iggy Iggy" Herman Chin-Loy gave the youth his recording debut and more significantly, a new name - AUGUSTUS PABLO - which was not strictly new itself as for the past few months Aquarius record labels had sporadically appeared bearing the credit Augustus Pablo.
The follow-up was another instrumental - the first cut of "East Of River Nile" - with Pablo alternating rudimentary but spooky solos on melodica and organ over a jagged riddim. At the age of eighteen Augustus Pablo had his first hit at Randy's for Clive Chin's "Impact" imprint with "Java" and he soon established himself through his releases on his own "Hot Stuff" and legendary "Rockers" label. The way in which the riddims were mixed was also important to Pablo. In common with Vivian Jackson, Lee Perry, Bunny Lee and several others he employed King Tubby to mix his productions. It actually led to the release of an album that confirmed and spread both men's reputation : the 1976 released dub set "King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown". Working as a producer he often teamed up with a young Jacob Miller, Hugh Mundell, Junior Delgado, but also others such as the Heptones, Locksley Castell, Ricky Grant, Delroy Williams and Norris Reid have also met with some fame on Pablo's unique riddims.
In 1979 reggae connoisseurs Chris Lane and Dave Hendley compiled the album "Original Rockers", a compilation of singles, all recorded in the first half of the '70s. The compilation was instrumental in bringing the music of Augustus Pablo to an international audience but also highlighted the dub talents of King Tubby, Prince Jammy and Phillip Smart. Last month VP Records/Greensleeves released an enhanced version of the album with no less than 13 extra tracks. The official Deluxe Edition includes a booklet with pictures and sleeve notes courtesy of Noel Hawks and is made with full approval of the original compilers.
"Forward Jackson, backward Coxsone!" intones Augustus Pablo on the intro to the formidable "Rockers Dub", Pablo's sound boy dub plate version of "Frozen Dub", itself a do-over of the Soul Vendors Studio One instrumental classic "Frozen Soul". The compilation adds two more (vocal) cuts of the riddim. First there's the Leroy Sibbles solo cut across the riddim, followed by the version of The Heptones, with lead vocals by Leroy Sibbles. Jacob Miller's "Baby I Love You So" probably is reggae's most chilling lovers tune. Pablo recorded the original instrumental cut in 1973 - "Cassava Piece" - and reworked it later as a dub called "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown". This album features a 1979 style version and the powerful deejay cut "Cassava Rock" by Big Youth. "Jah Dread" is the dub to Hugh Mundell's awesome tune "Stop Them Jah" and Jacob Miller's superb "Who Say Jah No Dread". The 7" version of the riddim features vocal snippets of Jacob Miller's tune.
Dillinger's "Brace A Boy" features the riddim of Pablo's "A.P. Special", a beautiful xylophone version. A second version of the riddim closes the album in fine style. "Thunder Clap" is the ultra relaxed version of Horace Andy's "Ain't No Sunshine When She Gone", a tune he cut with several producers. The riddim returns later on the album in a remixed version as "Lightning Flash". Pablo's young hypnotic protégé Hugh Mundell (he took him under his wings when he was about twelve years old) recorded the album 'Africa Must Be Free By 1983' in 1979. The title track is a moving testimony to the spirit of the times. "Park Lane Special" is the dub to that song, but the riddim is featured twice here. Check out another dub workout of the riddim on "Africa Dub". The original 1979 LP listed track three as "Tubby's Dub Song", but it actually is "Pablo's Theme Song". "Tubby's Dub Song" is featured here in two versions.
Time to replace your worn out copy! Truly essential!