King Tubby Meets Jacob Miller In A Tenement Yard
King Tubby
Motion Records
August 29, 2006

Jacob Miller & King Tubby - King Tubby Meets Jacob Miller In a Tenement Yard Track list
  1. Dreada Dread Dub
  2. Don’t Let Dub Fool You
  3. Dey Call It Dub
  4. Suzie Wong Dub
  5. Judgment Yard Dub
  6. Jah Jah Land Dub
  7. City Of The Weakheart Dub
  8. Roman Soldiers Of Dub
  9. Dub Has Come Again
  10. Lick Weed Dub
  11. 80,000 Dubs
  12. Ghetto On Fire Dub
  13. Dub The Weak Heart (Bonus Track)
  14. Ghetto On Fire (Bonus Track)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
King Tubby's musical legacy has been so mercilessly picked over, scavenged, packaged, repackaged, sold and resold by so many record label vultures that it is difficult to imagine what could possibly be left to enjoy.

His recordings have been sold by top of the range labels at full cost, and then repackaged again by budget labels too -- in fact his sound has become so ubiquitous that listening to it again and again and again has become like eating a fifth helping of sweet cake -- delicious, pleasing -- yet nausea inducing in its reflection of our greed for more and more of the same. Besides this, the "hagiography idealizing" that goes on around Tubby by the reggae anoraks seems intent on turning this unique man and his audacious contribution to music into just another conservative, relentlessly repeated cliché, reduced to the stone dull and boring.

Of course, none of this is Tubby's "fault", nor, of course, is it any reflection on the man's music -- but simply more a reflection of the vulture activity that goes on once a great man is dead.

Is this album any different? In some respects, no -- inevitably, some of the rhythm tracks and styles on this album we have heard repeatedly over the last thirty years, and a number of the tunes offer little to surprise -- but the album does have a distinctive contribution to make to the genre: the majority of tracks feature a funky Stevie Wonder style keyboard groove, which makes the sound quite a step away from what you may be expecting.

The keyboard player Touter Harvey explains in the sleeve notes that he had been directly inspired not only by Stevie Wonder, but also by Krautrockers Tangerine Dream. The similarities and influences stylistically to "Living For The City", "Boogie On Reggae Woman" and "Superstition" are all too obvious, and a number of the grooves -- surprisingly-- also sound like they'd be equally at home on a Neu or Can album. It doesn't always flow -- some of the keyboard sound is kitsch and dated. But when it works -- it soars.

By far the best tracks are the xylophone marimba tunes which are nothing less than sublime -- these are beautiful, understated meditative works. It is explained in the sleeve notes that no one remembers who played the xylophone. It is conjectured that it may be Pablo. If you are utterly tired, utterly bored, disenchanted and put off by an attitude in reggae music that seems to measure all value and worth by how "heavy" everything is -- then these delicate, intelligent xylophone tracks will be a beautiful breath of fresh air for you, and should not be overlooked.

Top marks must go to Touter Harvey here for stepping out on a limb with these experimental works, and deliberately going off the beaten track.