Sound System International Dub LP
King Tubby & The Clancy Eccles All Stars
September 20, 2009
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : -||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 5|
On the 6th February 1989, King Tubby, aka Osbourne Ruddock, returned home from a night out and was shot dead in cold blood. The senseless slaying of this mild, shy and widely loved man sent the reggae community worldwide into shock. As the news filtered out from Jamaica, communities across the whole world mourned his passing. In the UK, renowned radio dj David Rodigan immediately put together a tribute to Tubby. During the show he talked to King Jammy via a live link. Jammy, chocking back tears at the death of his friend, sent out the following message to the killer : "You can run, but you can't hide". It was one of the most poignant moments in UK broadcasting history.
Twenty years later Pressure Sounds releases the unbelievably obscure Clancy Eccles produced dub set 'Sound System International Dub LP' and adds five bonus tracks to keep up the good work! The guys at the specialised reggae shop Dub Vendor (London) had to say this about it: "Previously completely obscure, to the extent that none of us at Dub Vendor, who pride ourselves on our trainspotter-like propensity for knowing all the ins and outs of this kind of thing had never even heard a rumour of its existence".
The story of King Tubby is well known, but Clancy Eccles is a lesser known figure to most reggae fans. Born 1940, Dean Pen, St. Mary, Jamaica, he spent his childhood in the countryside of the parish of Saint Mary. In his late teens, he moved to Ocho Rios, where he performed at night in various shows, with artists such as The Blues Busters, Higgs & Wilson and Buster Brown.
He moved to Kingston in 1959, where he started his recording career. He first recorded for Coxsone Dodd, who had organized a talent show in which Eccles took part. Eccles had a Jamaican hit in 1961 with the early ska song "Freedom", which was recorded in 1959, and was featured on Dodd's sound system for two years before it was released. In the following years, Eccles had other successful songs, mixing boogie/rhythm & blues influences with ska rhythms, such as "River Jordan" and "Glory Hallelujah".
In 1967 he started producing his own recordings as well as those of other artists. He scored a hit with Eric 'Monty' Morris' reggae song "Say What You're Saying", and with his own song "Feel The Rhythm", one of several records that were instrumental in the shift from rocksteady to reggae. Eccles has also been credited with deriving the name 'reggae' from 'streggae', Kingston slang for a good-time girl.
Eccles' first hit, "What Will Your Mama Say" was released by the recently-created United Kingdom label, Pama Records. In 1968, his song "Fattie Fattie" became a skinhead reggae classic, along with his productions of recordings by the toasting DJ King Stitt ("Fire Corner", "Van Cleef", "Herbman Shuffle"). Eccles recorded many organ-led instrumentals with his session band The Dynamites (same band has Derrick Harriott's Crystalites), featuring Winston Wright. In 1970, Eccles helped pave the way to the dub music genre by releasing an instrumental version of "Herbman Shuffle" called Phantom, with a mix focusing on the bass line.
Eccles launched different record labels for his works: Clansone, New Beat and Clandisc. He recorded artists such as Alton Ellis, Joe Higgs, the Trinidian Lord Creator ("Kingston Town"), Larry Marshall, Hemsley Morris, Earl Lawrence, The Beltones, Glen Ricks, Cynthia Richards, Buster Brown and Beres Hammond. Appreciated by musicians for his fairness and sense of equity, he helped Lee Perry set up his Upsetter record label in 1968 after Perry left Dodd's employment, and helped Winston 'Niney' Holmes record his first hit as a producer in 1971 ("Blood & Fire").
After the 1970s, new Eccles recordings were rare, and he concentrated on live concert promotion and re-issues of his back catalogue. In the 1980s, Eccles slowed down his musical activities and he never met success again, apart from a few political songs, such as "Dem Mash Up The Country" in 1985. Eccles died on June 30, 2005 in Spanish Town Hospital from complications of a heart attack.
As said before, the CD brings us 15 tracks, ten original tunes and five bonus tracks. The LP was originally released in a plain cover with only the title and track listing. Some of the tunes were previously put on CD by the labels Trojan and Jamaican Gold. During the 1990s the now defunct Jamaican Gold label has released several excellent retrospective Clancy Eccles albums.
This selection of dubs/instrumentals ignores the producers better known tracks, although Kingston Dub Town is a perfect dub version of Lord Creator's (and UB40's) chart success. The aforementioned dub lick of "Herbman Shuffle" called Phantom focuses heavily on the bass line. On the same riddim you get presented King Tubby’s City Dub. King Stitt is the oldest living Jamaican deejay. He recorded several crisp sides for Clancy Eccles, including his riposte to fellow deejay U Roy entitled King Of Kings and the awesome Dance Beat, where he and Clancy discuss the early days and characters of the sound system scene.
Joe aka 'Joe Louis' is one of our favourite tunes, while the incredible Red Moon is a creative piece of (saxophone) work, giving the Rodgers and Hart evergreen 'Blue Moon' (remember The Marcels?) a smooth dub lick. If we're not mistaken Alton Ellis used that same riddim for his hit tune 'Play It Cool'. The album finishes up in fine style with a tribute to one of Jamaica's best drummers, Drumbago aka Arkland Parks, called Tribute To Drumbago.
This album is the perfect showcase for Tubby's early mixing style. Most of us know his work for Bunny Lee, but here his style is sober, sparse and to the point, with minimal use of vocals. Most of the tracks were recorded in the late 60s and early 70s. It's likely that the album was mixed around 1973/1974.