Mek It Run
CD, 2LP, Digital Release
July 30, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 4|
Dennis Bovell. Some of them call him "Mr.Reggae" or "Blackbeard". This multi dimensional legend should be dubbed "Headmaster Of U.K Reggae", with all his natty credentials. Over the years, we have been treated to top notch Dub treatments by Mr. Bovell. Pressure Sounds has just dropped a whopping good time with "Mek It Run".
Dennis has never flashed his ego but he is responsible for MAJOR developments in Reggae Musik. Born in St. Peter, Barbados in 1953; he migrated to the U.K in the mid 1960's. After fostering his talents in a Jimi Hendrix cover band, he linked up with mates to form Matumbi; arguably the first prominent British Reggae band. "Point Of View" and "Empire Road" are key components in the 1970's U.K. Reggae surge. He founded an early Sound System, "Jah Sufferer"; that landed him in jail for six months; only fueling Jah fire. He started to dabble in Dub; not Channel One or Studio One. This was and is invention and interpretation! Pounding Roots riddims infused with fuzz guitars, unique effects, Soul, Rock and Jazz. His work is regarded as groundbreaking as Adrian Sherwood (On-U Sounds) and Lloyd Barnes (Bullwackies).
Dennis is responsible for creating U.K. Lovers Rock with Janet Kay's "Silly Games" that hit Number Two on the charts. His name is linked to no less than eighteen Top 20 British Reggae hits. He knows what people want, reinventing Errol Dunkley's "A Little Way Different" into a Sound System staple. In the producers seat, he has made records for Punk and New Wave legends The Pop Group, The Slits and even Bananarama. He started a decades long link with Dub Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson in the late 1970's with "Dread Beat An' Blood" and "Forces Of Victory". Bovell had assembled a top ranking team of U.K. musicians (including members of Aswad) called the "Dub Band" that created a pounding sound that resonates today. Rare shows by LKJ and The Dub Band are life changing events! Recommended Dub albums by Bovell are "Strictly Dubwise"(1978), "I Wah Dub"(1980) and "Brain Damage"(1981). An extremely rare 12" Bovell production is Johnny Clarke's "Guidance" (1982); one of the best Clarke songs in memory.
"Mek It Run" is a collection of Dubs recorded between the late 1970's to the mid 1980's. Recorded at Gooseberry/Studio 80 studios in London; all tracks are backed by incarnations of The Dub Band. Drums are by the immortal Jah Bunny, Drummie Zeb (Aswad) and drum loops from Style Scott! Basswork done by Tony Gad (Aswad) and Bovell. Gits are handled by Bovell and longtime associate John Kpiaye. Keys are done by Tony Gad and Nick Stracker. The Horn section is dynamite; Henry "Buttons" Tenyue, Steve Gregory and Bukky Leo. Dennis had recent surgery; keeping him at bay. He decided to dig up these tracks, book time at Ariwa Studios and ask Joe Ariwa for his expertise. These tracks were given special treatment by Bovell and Joe Ariwa in April, 2012. The results are amazing!
Vargen is a killer track with wailing sound effects and prominent horns and hi-hat that only Bovell can bring out. Mek It Run has definite Joe Ariwa influence with fattened basslines and rimshots; totally works. One of the highlight tracks is In The Mix; that bears obvious Aswad workings. Originally done in the early 1980's, this remix shimmers like Zion light. Secret Service can only be described as a serious drum and bass workout that showcases Bovell's mastery. Dub N' Cap'n offers up serious horn sequencing with Aswadesque magic. Floods Of Tears was originally released as "Raindrops" (1977) from Dennis "Matumbi". The remix somehow sounds like early LKJ riddim; no complaints. Saxaphonagragravaparachutereggae (one of the longest words in the dictionary) is all over the place; saxophones and cymbals flying and intricate drum workings. It is as the definition of the word- "sensation of parachuting while playing sax". The saxman is Sax/afrobeat master Bucky Leo.
Bovell and Roy Reid (I-Roy) hooked up in the 1970's to record "Whap'n Bap'n"; one of the most intelligent DJ records ever. Two tracks are included here; Afreecan and Burden, both are worth buying this album for. Absolute chatting magic over serious riddimwise. Dub Code is a flute driven masterpiece that highlights longtime Dub Band member Steve Gregory; who played on George Michael's "Careless Whisper" and with Van Morrison. What we have here is a mystical track that evokes memories of old. Cross To Bear is a Gospel tinged Rocker that deserves to be on a Mad Professor album; this is a phat thing. This project ends with an anthem marking the end of Mubarak regime in the Middle East. It originally appeared as "Zombie Zone" on an earlier Pressure Sounds Bovell tribute--Decibels. This is a melodica driver that deserves instant replay.
"Mek It Run" will make you run to the record shop to add this to your collection. This project is so important because Mr. Bovell unearthed these tracks as almost unsalvageable analogs and was able to bake them crystal clear with his years of engineering experience and the ability to use Ariwa's latest transfer technology. It's like finding a tarnished diamond and making it a royal jewel. There is not a bad track here; it may not be for Dub purists but is an extremely important look of how Dub can go beyond boundaries and not lose its focus. Big up to Joe Ariwa for able assistance and Dennis Bovell for allowing us to hear more magic.