Message Music
Augustus Pablo
Pressure Sounds
CD / 2LP
July 4, 2011

Message Music - Augustus Pablo's Digital Productions 1986-1994 - Augustus Pablo Track list
  1. A Java Instrumental (Version)
  2. Butter Pon Dem Mouth Version
  3. Ammagiddeon Dub
  4. Missing Link
  5. Missing Link Dub
  6. Credential Instrumental
  7. Culture Rule Dub (Rockers International Band)
  8. War Dub (Pablo All Stars)
  9. Run Come Yah Version
  10. Kidd Lane Specially feat. Benbow
  11. Anzania - Blacka Black
  12. Blacka Black Dub (Pablo All Stars)
  13. Revolution Dub (Pablo All Stars)
  14. Seven Winds From Zion
  15. Isis - Addis Rock Dub (Rockers All Stars)
  16. Poor Mans Cry Dub (Rockers All Stars)
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Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 7-
Very Good -Votes: 2-
Good -Votes: 3-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 1-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 13
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
Prince Buster, Duke Reid and Clement "Coxsone" Dodd were the dominant forces in Jamaican popular music up to 1968, the end of the short-lived rocksteady era. It was followed by by a period of extraordinary experiment, in which almost all latter styles were prefigured and all previous styles absorbed. A substantial contribution to the restless innovation in the early reggae era (1968-1974) was made by the large number of new producers who arrived on the scene, eager to make their mark with a sound of their own. Producers like e.g. Harry Johnson, Rupie Edwards, Lloyd Charmers, Glen Brown, Keith Hudson, Phil Pratt, and Alvin Ranglin, forged a unique and easily identifiable sound of their own in a period when it seemed that practically anything was possible in the studio.

Also Horace Swaby aka Augustus Pablo, who debuted in 1969 with the single "Iggy Iggy" for producer Herman Chin-Loy, created an immediately recognizable sound for his own productions during the period when roots reggae was the clearly dominant style (roughly 1975-1980). This was Augustus Pablo's most consistent and creative period, both as a melodica/keyboard player and as a producer. The post-digital era clearly changed things for Augustus Pablo. He more and more became aware of the fact that the sound he had created for his own productions was going to change due to the introduction of digital recording methods. It seemed that the spirit of the times, which was for the most part dominated by the sound and agenda of the Jamaican dancehall, wasn't conducive to his laid-back approach. However he managed to issue good music by Junior Delgado, Johnny Osbourne, Blacka T, Delroy Williams, and Yami Bolo. And although he could still cut the occasional killer instrumental, his albums did not keep up the standard of previous ones like e.g. "This Is" and "East Of The River Nile".

Augustus Pablo's "Message Music" is a 16-track compilation that gathers lesser known instrumentals and dubs from around 1986 to 1994. Probably due to having the original "Java" instrumental in mind, the first track of this album doesn't make a serious impression and thus isn't exactly a much promising start. Things get slightly better when the next re-cut of "Java" drops, "Butter Pon Dem Mouth Version", which has been taken from the flipside of Junior Delgado's 1994 released militant 7" single "Butter Pon Dem Mouth". "Ammagiddeon Dub" is a decent effort with Augustus Pablo blowing over a digital version of Jackie Mittoo's "Drum Sound" riddim. The 1992 released single "Missing Link" and its dub version are tuff, powerful tracks with the additional acoustic percussion most likely being played by Noel 'Scully' Simms or 'Benbow' Creary. "Credential Instrumental", b-side to Willie Williams' "Credential" from 1994, is a solid piece with an electronic drum sound mixed with 'live' analogue playing and the melodica as lead instrument. Next comes the killer "Culture Rule Dub", the dub version of Ruffy & Tuffy's hard-to-get musical gem "Harm No One" from 1989. It's followed by the mediocre "War Dub", the dubbed up version of Steve Becker's digital roots tune "War" from 1987, which was actually produced by Steve Malcolm and Leroy Pennicott.

Halfway this compilation it's obvious that not every track has caused real excitement, so let's hear what the second part of this set brings us. It starts in real fine style with the solid version of Blacka T's bad deejay cut "Run Come Yah" from 1988, then followed by another solid track called "Kidd Lane Specially", the dub version of Yami Bolo's single "Tell Me Why This Is (Fussing and Fighting)". A heavy bassline and Augustus Pablo's keyboard play are the most striking parts of the awesome "Anzania - Blacka Black", which once again can be enjoyed to the fullest when its dub version drops in. "Revolution Dub", taken from the b-side of Junior Delgado's "Forward Revolution", is a great track especially because it has a heavy mix (here Augustus Pablo used the Simmons electronic drum kit). However it's outmatched by the groovin' instrumental "Seven Winds From Zion" and its dub companion called "Isis - Addis Rock Dub". The compelling dub version of Yami Bolo's 1990 single "Poor's Man Cry" rounds off in great style.

Despite a few rather mediocre tracks, this is a very fine collection of Augustus Pablo's digital output. Would be nice if we could get a compilation of his digital stuff with singers and deejays, preferably including the tunes mentioned in this review.