Dial M For Murder ~ In Dub Style
Phil Pratt
Pressure Sounds
December 5, 2011

Track list
  1. Dial-M-For Murder
  2. Danger UBX
  3. Stinger
  4. Beware Of This Rass Dub
  5. Chase A Crooked Shadow
  6. Donít Watch My Size
  7. Walking Razor
  8. Wonder Woman Dub
  9. Bad Boy Dub
  10. Jam Up
  11. Natty Culture
  12. Who Gets Your Dub
  13. Dub Plenty
  14. Dr. Bash
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 4 Production : 3/4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
After having released the compilation sets "Phil Pratt Thing" (1999) and "Safe Travel" (2005), with the latter featuring hellisly rare Phil Pratt produced recordings from the rocksteady period, the Pressure Sounds label comes up with another sought-after Phil Pratt production, the dub album "Dial M For Muder ~ In Dub Style" from 1980. Phil Pratt, who surely had the material to be named alongside all-time greats like Joe Gibbs, Lee 'Scratch' Perry or Winston 'Niney' Holness, is one of those figures in the history of Jamaica's popular music who deserves to be better remembered.

Phil Pratt was born George Phillips in 1942 in Kingston, Jamaica. In the early '60s he became involved with Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd's ruling Downbeat organisation, working as a 'box man' for the Studio One sound system and a general shelf filler for Dodd's burgeoning indigenous record operation. It had always been Phil Pratt's ambition to become a vocalist -- he actually first sang in a vocal group with his schoolmates Ken Boothe and Headly Foulding performing at charities and school concerts -- and now he found himself in a position to voice some of his songs at Studio One. Apparently Coxsone Dodd wasn't satisfied with the final results so Phil Pratt's tunes were left unpressed. Undaunted he took his work to Ken Lack, the owner of Caltone records, who re-named him Phil Pratt. His "Sweet Song For My Baby" appeared on the Caltone label and brought him a modicum of success, greater visibility, and an entry into the business he was seeking, eventually leading to a business partnership between him and Ken Lack. He started to run his Sun Shot label out of the Lack's premises, effectively as a subsidiary of Caltone.

The very first recordings he did was with a very young Horace Andy and then he went on scoring hits with artists such as Ken Boothe, John Holt, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Al Campbell and Keith Poppin to name only six. It was in 1972-74 that he finally had established a distinctive sound for himself. His success with these singers encouraged Phil Pratt to move deeper into the more rootsy sounds, required by the increasingly popular deejays of the period such as U.Roy, I.Roy, Big Youth, Charlie Ace, Dillinger, Jah Woosh and Dennis Alcapone, who all utilised some of the more popular riddims that were appearing on Sun Shot. In the mid '70s, after he had moved to London, little was heard from Phil Pratt anymore.

"Dial M For Murder ~ In Dub Style" appeared in 1980 towards the end of the period when dub had become madly popular -- especially outside of Jamaica. The album -- named after the Alfred Hitchcock movie -- was recorded at Channel One around 1979/1980 with The Revolutionaries consisting of Sly & Robbie, Rad Brian on guitar, Bobby Kalphat and Ansell Collins on keyboards and piano, Tommy McCook & Herman Marquis on horns. Bunny Tom Tom aka Crucial Bunny aka Anthony Graham mixed the dubs alongside Phil Pratt. When it comes to dub albums, you're mostly trying to identify the original source riddim tracks, and this also goes for this set.

Luckily the booklet that comes with the cd contains some decent information, and thus we learn that the album opener and title track is a version to the Blackstones' "Come And Dance" from their 1979 "Insight" album. "Stinger" is clearly derived from Mel Torme's '60s r'n'b club hit "Coming Home Baby", while "Chase A Crooked Shadow" sounds like a version of John Holt's "Up Park Camp", cut for Channel One in 1976. "Don't Watch My Size" is the dub version of Junior Brown's vocal cut "What A Disaster", previously released on Mystic 12" vinyl in 1980. It's actually the only track of the original album with an identifiable vocal.

"Natty Culture", one of the four bonus tracks of the cd, is the version to Big Youth's "Keep Your Dread". When "Who Gets Your Dub" drops in it's obvious that this is the dubbed up version of Ken Boothe's "Who Gets Your Love". "Dub Plenty" is a version of I Roy's "My Food Is Ration", itself a deejay version of Keith Poppin's classic tune "Envious". The cd is rounded off in great syle with "Dr. Bash", a dub to Roman Stewart's awesome "Fire At My Heel".

Although "Dial M For Murder ~ In Dub Style" has been a sought-after album for collectors, it's not a sensational one. However it's a very pleasant release, a welcome addition to any (dub) collection.