Various artists album review
Roots & Dub
Smugg Records
12 - 05 - 2003

Tracking list

  1. Bim Sherman - Happiness
  2. Yabby Youth - Happiness Dub
  3. Horace Andy - Thanks & Praise
  4. Horace Andy - Thanks Dub
  5. Ashanti Waugh - Jah Love
  6. Ashanti Waugh - Jah Dub
  7. Locksley I - Lead Me On
  8. Black Roots - Lead Dub
  9. Sammy Dread - Talk It Over
  10. Black Roots - Talk It Dub
  11. Sugar Minott - Be Careful
  12. Sly & Robbie - Careful Dub
  13. Little John - Wake Up
  14. Sly & Robbie - Wake The Dub
  15. Danny Dread - Run Come
  16. Roots Radics - Run Dub
  17. Nitty Gritty - Used To Be My Lover
  18. Nitty Gritty - Used To Be My Dubber
  19. Ashanti Waugh - Slave Ship
  20. Ashanti Waugh - Ship Dub
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 3

In the past year or so UK based record label "Smugg Records" has treated us to some great collections of classic reggae cuts including the fantastic double cd "Ready When You Ready" and its follow-up, the matching "Ready When You Ready Two". Now here's the next compilation set of classic material from this reissue label, the truly superb "Roots & Dub". The music on this cd, most likely produced in the late seventies and early eighties, is presented in showcase style (i.e. the vocal cut followed by its dub version). Featured are tunes from well known Jamaican artists such as Horace Andy, Nitty Gritty and Sugar Minott along with pieces from more obscure names like for example Locksley I and Ashanti Waugh.
The album opener "Happiness" is a great tune by Bim Sherman, a fine singer who was born Jarrett Tomlinson in Kingston, Jamaica in 1952 and passed away in London in the year 2000. Bim Sherman based himself in London UK, but belonged to those roots singers who express the rasta vision of Babylon's fall and corresponding redemption through their songs. Next to his self-produced material, released on self-financed labels like "Scorpio", "Red Sea" and "Sun Dew", he has also done several projects for On-U-Sound's Adrian Sherwood. Although the singer impressed reggae connoisseurs with the late seventies tunes "World Go Round", "Tribulation" and "Danger" as well as "Mighty Ruler" and his exceptional album "Miracle" he remains one of the most underrated and ignored reggae artists. The deejay Yabby Youth delivers a matching cut to Bim Sherman's vocal piece, before Horace Andy takes over. The singer with an eerie, haunting vocal style, first came to the attention of the world at the age of 19 when he recorded for Studio One. He has been recording ever since delivering many classic hits for various producers including Bunny "Striker" Lee, Keith Hudson, Everton Dasilva and Tappa Zukie. Here he comes up with "Thanks & Praise", a solid tune delivered in the singer's unique vocal style, which is followed by a wicked dub. Next drop two tracks credited to Ashanti Waugh, namely "Jah Love" and "Jah Dub". Both are wicked efforts truly worth of hearing. The rather unknown Locksley I's delivers the solid "Lead Me On", which is followed by Black Roots' enjoyable "Lead Dub". Then we're treated to a great track performed by Stewart Farquaharson better known to his many adoring fans as Sammy Dread. He made his recording debut in the latter half of the seventies at a time when dancehall started to develop itself as a new musical style. Sammy Dread definitely is one of the singers who best exemplifies early dancehall vocals. The singer, known for delivering his songs in an enthusiastic roughhouse manner, is featured here with one of his hit tunes, "Talk It Over".
Sugar Minott aka Brown Sugar & Booga Minott, one of reggae's most prolific voices, needs no further introduction as he's definitely one of the key figures in Jamaican music. Backed by renown Sly & Robbie he delivers an outstanding cut in his instantly recognizable vocal style. The riddim twins have also provided an awesome, bass driven backdrop for Little John's entertaining Wake Up". John McMorris aka Little John began his career on Romantic Hi-Fi, moving up through Killamanjaro, Gemini and Volcano Hi Power, where he honed and perfected his craft with a lengthy string of live appearances. He first recorded with Captain Sinbad for the "Youth In Progress" label at the tender age of nine. Throughout the eighties he was seldom out of the reggae charts. The Roots Radics were partly responsible for the dancehall style that dominated in the first half of the eighties. Danny Dread's "Run Come" benefits from the band's typical sparse, slow and at times threatening sound. Solid vocal cut comes complete with wicked dub version. Nitty Gritty, born Glen Augustus Holness 1957 in August Town, Kingston, Jamaica, rose to fame alongside Tenor Saw, King Kong and Anthony Red Rose. He recorded singles and albums for Channel One, King Jammy, George Phang, Sugar Minott's Youth Promotion, Skengdon and Blacker Dread, to name few. Sadly, he was shot dead at the age of 34 in Brooklyn, New York, outside Super Power record shop. Nitty Gritty performs in his oddly expressive flat wail on the solid "Used To Be My Lover". However, it's the killer "Used To Be My Dubber" that outmatches the straight vocal version. Ashanti Waugh rounds off in fine style with the wonderful Slave Ship".
"Roots & Dub" is a must-have cd for any fan of vintage reggae music. Ignore at your peril!

Teacher & Mr. T.