Dub Reggae Essentials
There's more crucial dub from than you can shake a stick at on Dub Essentials. Mind-bending work from the past thirty years are amassed by Hip-O, with liner notes from David Katz, author of a recent biography of Lee "Scratch" Perry, People Funny Boy. The hypnotic repetition of rhythmic elements inherent in the form can prove to be the downfall of the best dub album; however, picking tunes from different artists, producers, and times, Hip-O has managed to make the selections sound fresh. It also shows how dub inspired and influences modern trance, electronica, hip-hop, and other forms that rely on deejay toasts, remixing and studio effects.
In this light, even older works from the early 70s like U-Roy's "Wake the Town" and Dennis Alcapone's "Teach the Children" pack a punch with their rock steady swing. But the best cuts are from the late 70s and 80s, from a who's who list of reggae artists: King Tubby (who produced a good number of the cuts as well), Burning Spear, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Gregory Isaacs, the late Augustus Pablo, Steel Pulse, the Scientist...
Take "Night Nurse" from Gregory Isaacs. Average lyrics about lust, delivered in Isaacs' incredibly smooth croon, are transformed by simple drum-n-bass backing and judicious use of electronic effects into a mesmerizing masterpiece. More conscious dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, on the other hand, paints an impressionistic picture of rasta resistance to police aggression on "Street 66." His typically dry, half-spoken verse is laid over a sparse but rock solid "one-drop" rhythm, unembellished but for some harmonica lines, a delivery that is at once intimate and intimidating. Then there's Augustus Pablo's thundering "King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown" which transforms Jacob Miller's "Baby I Love You So" into an apocalyptic aural barrage - it's like a Cubist's love song to a Dadaist. I could go on listing the highlights - Steel Pulse's "Revolution Dub (Take 1)", The Selector's "Last Tango in Dub," Burning Spear's "Pit of Snakes" - but best just to recommend the disk with two thumbs up. - Craig Tower
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