Album review
Sledgehammer Dub In The Streets Of Jamaica
Niney The Observer
Motion Records
01 - 07 - 2002

Tracking list

  1. Dub Long Rastafari
  2. Travelling Version
  3. You're No Dub Baby
  4. Burning Dub
  5. Kingsgate Version
  6. Dub Now
  7. God Bless My Dub
  8. Everyone's Dubbing
  9. Rich And Poor Dub
  10. Tribulation Version
  11. Head Line
  12. New Style
  13. Dub 51
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : - Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5

Winston Holness, a man known throughout the reggae world as Niney The Observer who has made his mark as a performer of some note is perhaps more widely acknowledged for his skills as an engineer and producer. He started his career in the sixties when he studied the art of engineering from under the expert tuition of Lee Perry and Lynford Anderson (aka Andy Capp). He later supervised numerous sessions for illustrious producers such as Bunny Lee and Joe Gibbs prior to launching his career as an independent producer at the end of the decade. The single 'Blood And Fire' (the dub is present on this album) was his first major breakthrough issued on his Observer label. The single sold over 30,000 copies on the island alone and was later named 'Jamaican record of the Year' for 1971.
Over the next years Niney regularly supervised recording sessions at Dynamic, Randy's, Channel One and Joe Gibbs studios, releasing excellent sides by artists such as Max Romeo, Delroy Wilson and Ken Boothe. Niney also had a hand in gaining international attention for another future reggae superstar, Michael Rose, soon to join up with Duckie Simpson and Errol Nelson in the vocal trio Black Uhuru (Nelson later replaced by American vocalist, Puma Jones). Rose recorded at least two versions of the soon-to-be Uhuru classic, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", with Niney, the alternate take being titled "Clap the Barber" ("clap" meaning to shoot). However, his most enduring productions during that period were those he did with Dennis Brown. Niney also gained some notoriety as a producer of the uniquely Jamaican style music known as Dub. "Dubbing With the Observer" is one of the more widely known Niney dubwise excursions, and this album is basically the dub companion to "Deep Down With Dennis Brown", one of the singer's exceptional and exceedingly rare albums, issued on the Obeserver label, recorded in the late 1974 and early 1975. The "Sledgehammer Dub" album was mixed by the late great King Tubby, and pressed in minute quantities around the start of 1977, issued in a blank sleeve with no tracklisting.
The cd "Sledgehammer Dub In The Streets Of Jamaica" includes the original album, plus four quality bonus tracks. For the cover Motion Records used a great 1970's shot of The Observer record store in Kingston. The dubs found here are completely devoid of vocals, offering room for the instruments of the Soul Syndicate band and The Cimarrons (on tracks 9 + 10). The first track, the dub to 'So Long Rastafari' features the 'flying cymbal' sound, an adaption of the Philly Sound of the seventies. Next comes the pumping dub to 'Travelling Man', followed by the haunting dub to 'You're No Good', one of our favorite pieces of the album. One of Dennis Brown's most enduring efforts -'Voice Of My Father', gets ripped and leaves just the 'flying cymbal', the bass and some organ injections... wicked !
The dub to 'Open The Gate' features a funky wah-wah guitar, while the dub to 'Go Now' takes away the sentimental groove found on the vocal track. 'God Bless Our Soul' is next and gets a firm King Tubby's treatment. The lonely 'Why Must I' , a Heptones composition, is transformed to an echoing bass-and-drum workout. The last of the original dubs is Tribulation Version, which starts relaxed but creeps 'pon you very quickly !
The first bonus track is Head Line, a heavily reverberating dub (some vocals of Dennis and Jah Youth included !) of Big Youth's '6 Dead 19 Gone A Jail', which was cut on Dennis' great 'My Time' riddim. New Style (also with some vocals) is a dub cut to the pleading 'Give A Helping Hand', while Dub 51 is the dub cut to the sensual 'Rock With Me Baby'. The album closes with an exclusive one-off sound sound system dub plate mix of 'Tenement Yard'.
Essential dub re-release set !

Teacher & Mr. T.