Black Foundation Dub
Augustus 'Gussie' Clarke
Motion Records
December 20, 2001

Track list
  1. Black Foundation
  2. No, No, No
  3. Free Zone
  4. Big Or Small
  5. Creation Dub
  6. Rockers Time*
  7. Funny Feelings
  8. Murderer
  9. Late Arrival
  10. Rocking Vibration
  11. One Way
  12. Loving Pauper*
  13. No Entry **
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
London based Motion Records follow up their Skatalites "Herb Dub Collie Dub" release with the re-issue of Gussie Clarke's long lost dubwise set "Black Foundation Dub" from 1978, that covers the producer's big mid-decade hits in dub fashion. David Katz (writer of "People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee Scratch Perry") has written detailed sleeve notes, which feature an interview with Gussie, as well as a track by track analysis. His writings have been used for this review.

"Black Foundation Dub" was originally released in limited numbers in Jamaica on Gussie's 'Roots Sounds' label and featured material produced by Gussie from the period 1973-78, including killer versions of many hittunes by the likes of Delroy Wilson, Gregory Isaacs, Augustus Pablo, Dennis Brown, Bob Andy, KC White and Dawn Penn. All of the tracks were mixed at dub pioneer King Tubby's Studio most by Tubby himself, the remainder by Philip Smart. For this release Gussie has added two bonus tracks (*) for the LP and a third (**) for the CD, an extended version of Augustus Pablo's classic tune No Entry.

Augustus Clarke is one of a handful of committed individuals who have largely determined the state of Jamaica's contemporary music industry. Very much a behind-the-scenes figure, Gussie's input has been crucial, not only in shaping the way the music has sounded since the early 1970s, but also in facilitating the ease with which Jamaica's fiery creations can be accessed by the world at large. He has enjoyed several successful phases as a leading producer of quality material, building a catalogue that's relatively small, but marked by high standards. And he has also been involved in the distribution, importation and exportation of musical discs. He was among the first to offer CD manufacturing in Jamaica and presently presides over the largest recording complex on the Island.

This album blasts off with the title track Black Foundation, a bass-heavy dub of Delroy Wilson's moving take on the soul classic "Is It Because I'm Black?", with an emphasis here on bright horn blasts, rippling organ riffs and snatches of eerie synth noise. Gussie's version of Dawn Penn's "You Don't Love Me" (also based on an American hit), which he called No No No was voiced in 1973 by KC White. This dub has been mixed with contemporary embellishments that highlight its solid drum-pattern. The modest, yet wonderful Free Zone, a bass-heavy number punctuated by a subtle triangle, was issued as an instrumental called "Schenectady's Shack". Big Or Small is a swinging horn mix of Delroy Wilson's take on the rousing soul number "All In This Thing Together", here presented to also emphasise the floor toms, electric piano, wooden fish and other melodic elements, plus a brilliant saxophone break. Creation Dub is a stripped-down mix of KC White's take on the Temptations' classic hit "Born To Love You", here led by a tinkling xylophone.

Missing from the original pressing, but now fully restored by Gussie, is Rockers Time, a chugging, upfront synth-led rockers' cut of Gregory Isaacs' faithful take on Bob Andy's versioned Studio One classic "My Time". The Dennis Brown tune Funning Feelings is then dubbed to expose the rockers' beat at its core. Dipping back a few years earlier, Murderer is a minimal cut of the Skylarking riddim, as featured on Big Youth's "Screaming Target" LP, mixed here to place emphasis on a deep bass, electric piano, with rim-shot beats given plenty of EQ and a ghostly triangle or bell ringing throughout. Late Arrival is a synth cut of another Bob Andy song called "I'm Going Home", punctuated by a wood block and choral voices; while Rocking Vibration is an exquisite drum-and-bass workout with some extra-fine wah-wah guitar. One Way is a xylophone cut of Augustus Pablo's majestic "No Entry", the same riddim that was used for Delroy Williams' stunning "Think Twice" - the dub here makes good use of Nyabinghi-styled conga beats and a percussive wooden grater. Absent from the original issue, but once again restored by Gussie, is a dub of Gregory Isaacs' well-known take on Dobby Dobson's "Loving Pauper", here presented as a slow drum, bass and organ skank, with snatches of a choral vocal in the mix. The disc closes with the aforementioned extended dub mix of Augustus Pablo's No Entry.

What can we say? We keep on spinning and spinning this disc! This is how dub should be, clear and crisp, rocking and swinging, but also stripped down to the essential bone and core of the vocal track. Essential stuff for reggae fans!