Tempo Explosion
Dug Out
February 24, 2011

Tempo Explosion - Various Artists Track list
  1. Sugar Minott - Devil Is At Large
  2. Chris Wayne - Don't Worry Yourself
  3. Willie Williams - Solid Rock I Stand
  4. Ras Menelik DaCosta - Free South Africa
  5. Jerry Johnson - Tribute To Prince Knight
  6. Black Roots Players - Temp Dub
  7. Black Roots Players - Slow Tempo
  8. Black Roots Players - Up Tempo
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Essential -Votes: 5-
Very Good -Votes: 2-
Good -Votes: 5-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 1-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 13
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
Dug Out is a new label devoted to reggae reissues, run by Mark Ainley and Mark Ernestus. The former is co-owner of the Honest Jon's record shop in West London, while the latter set up the Hard Wax shop in Berlin, Germany. As one half of the recording projects Basic Channel, Main Street, Maurizio, and Rhythm & Sound, he has worked regularly with the singer Paul St. Hilaire aka Tikiman, also with reggae legends like Willie Williams, Cornell Campbell and Sugar Minott. Mark Ernestus also co-managed the latest, extensive Bullwackies reissue programme.

"Tempo Explosion", an incredible 1985s Dancehall rarity, is the label's second full length album reissue, following up their release of Dadawah's "Peace And Love" set, which actually is Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus in a nyahbingi style. Furthermore Dug Out has come up with with a bunch of 7", 10" and 12" singles including King Kong's "He's My Friend", Little John & Billy Boyo's "What You Want To Be (Disc Jockey)", Anthony Red Rose's "Electric Chair", and Michael Rose's "Observe Life".

Anthony Red Rose's single "Tempo" (a misspelling of "Temper") was the first hit that appeared on King Tubby's own Firehouse label, which was launched at the same time he opened his new studio in 1985. When a riddim is hot, other producers also want a slice of the pie and record their own version of the riddim. King Jammy did it with "Tempo" and released ten cuts to the riddim on the "Ten To One" compilation LP, which featured Johnny Osbourne's "No Sound Like We", Little John's "Memories", and Junior Delgado's "Run Come", but lacked Nitty Gritty's hit tune "Hog Ina Me Minty".

Much lesser known, but definitely more interesting, is the Sugar Minott and Lloyd "Bullwackies" Barnes produced "Temmpo Explosion" for Ibo Millington's Black Victory imprint. The recordings for this album were done at Wackies' White Plains Road studio in the Bronx NYC with the Black Roots Players being responsible for laying down the devastating riddim track. The late great Sugar "Booga" Minott is in real good shape and gets things started with "Devil Is At Large". His deadly cool and mellifluous delivery amidst squirting, gurgling digi FX and a masterful blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, makes his take on the riddim an outstanding effort.

It's almost impossible to outmatch or even match Sugar Minott's piece, and although Chris Wayne's "Don't Worry Yourself" isn't bad at all, it doesn't come close to the high level of quality attained by the preceding track. Willie Williams, who comes up with the great "Solid Rock I Stand", does it better as he almost succeeds in delivering a matching cut. However, it's the balance of percussionist/vocalist Ras Menilik DaCosta's hoarse boom and synth bubbles on "Free South Africa" that can test the album's opening track. Jerry Johnson's wonderful saxed-up version, "Tribute To Prince Knight", kicks off the instrumentals, with Black Roots Players' stripped synth, drums and FX-driven "Temp Dub", "Slow Tempo" and "Up Tempo", being the mindblowing tracks that makes this album so interesting and special.

All in all this is a great and valuable reissue. Highly recommended!