Is It Rolling Bob? Dub Versions: Visions Of Jamaica
April 10, 2005

Track list
  1. Luciano - Knockin' On Heavens Door Dub
  2. Don Carlos - Blowin' In The Wind Dub
  3. Yellowman - The Ballad Of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest Dub
  4. Apple Gabriel - The Times They Are A-Changin' Dub
  5. Abijah - One Too Many Mornings Dub
  6. Gregory Isaacs - Mr. Tambourine Man Dub
  7. Sizzla - Subterranean Homesick Blues Dub
  8. Michael Rose - The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carrol Dub
  9. Beres Hammond - Just Like A Woman Dub
  10. The Mighty Diamonds - Lay Lady Lay Dub
  11. Billy Mystic - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall Dub
  12. Toots Hibbert - Maggie's Farm Dub
  13. JC Lodge - Don't Think Twice, It's All Right Dub
  14. Bob Dylan - I and I Dub
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 3 Production : 3 Sound quality : 3 Sleeve : 4
Like the "Dub Side of the Moon" album, there has been quite a lot of controversy and discussion surrounding the release of this album: Some dread the idea of "rock classics" being revisited -- Some reggae follower might loathe Bob Dylan and the very idea of this album, whilst others clearly welcome the experiment. Is it possible to approach this selection then, free from all the years of accrued associations and to ultimately judge it on its own merit rather than allowing the record to be encumbered by its reputation?

The dubwise selection here is a very reasonable, fair effort at a spacious, clean and heavy sound in an Exterminator style -- It is certainly very well produced, with a pleasing sound -- yet none of the tracks are astonishing. The tracks seem to go through the motions with some enthusiasm and a little inventiveness in places, but few of the tracks really take the listeners' breath away as intense dub music should.

That is not to say it is a bad record -- far from it. This album does indeed, have an ambient dreamlike quality to it throughout, with some strong impressionistic effects. "Knocking On Heaven's Dub" opens with an eerie backwards tape loop, militant drumming and zinc metal cymbal effects. "One Too Many Dubbings" by Abijah has some deep vocal echo delays, whilst Sizzla's dub decontruction of "Subteranean Homesick Blues" is nothing short of weirdly surreal, and is perhaps the closest this album comes to defining its own identity. The backing track is dissolving sound shards, similar to the old Sunshine label 45 version to "The Rastaman" by Horace Andy.

In the light of these tracks' legendary historical status it IS difficult to judge this record on its strengths alone, to divorce it from its context, yet it is certainly worth a listen -- it is interesting to hear new spaces dubbed into the form and structure of what are essentially classic rock formats. However, if you do not like the original tunes, it is doubtful this album will convert you.

The sleeve art is a lot of fun in a Warhol meets Grateful Dead and Robert Crumb in Haight Ashbury kind of way.