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Music Reviews

Aggrovators, The, Prophets, The – “King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub” – [Pressure Sounds]

Brian Damage   12/8/2022   12-inch, Reggae

First off, let’s get some stuff out of the way:

When? 1976.

Produced by? Yabby You (Vivian Jackson).

How much is an original pressing selling for? Currently $552.

The title? Well, there was a previous record called King Tubby’s Prophecy Of Dub. That was also produced by Yabby You, but is an entirely different record.

King Tubby? Well, the dub plates were done at King Tubby’s Waterhouse Studio, but the engineer was Tubby’s assistant Pat Kelly. So, Tubby gear, not Tubby as engineer. To add more confusion, many of these backing tracks actually belong to Bunny Lee.

How many fonts on the front cover? Four: Bottleneck, Compacta, Davida, and Ribbonette.

The Prophets? Actually, The Aggrovators did most of the original tracks.

The sound? Think Tubby, but not as much. Tubb. No, Tub. More atmospheric, less heavy-handed. Bass lines so buoyant that you could use them as a life raft. The ideal soundtrack for a perfect, sunny afternoon.

Bottom line? Oh, so recommended. I don’t have enough thumbs.

Fullwood, Phillip – “Words in Dub” – [Pressure Sounds]

Brian Damage   12/8/2022   12-inch, Reggae

This is a reissue of the incredibly rare 1979 Phillip Fullwood record. Mr. Fullwood originally wrote, sang, and played percussion with Burning Spear in the 70s.

This is a collection of tracks that had been recorded at pickup sessions through the mid- to late 70s, with musicians like Sly and Robbie, Horsemouth Wallace, Azul Hunt, Family Man Barrett, and Bingy Bunny Lamont. Some of the rhythm tracks were self-produced and some were donated by friends. Phillip showed up with boxes of tapes under his arm to Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio one day to do the dubs, on a day when Scratch was “acting crazy,” so he sat down at the console and did all the dubs himself.

The tracks themselves are representative of the era, full of the warm analog sounds of the 70s, and as mixed on Scratch’s rig? Fantastic.

This is essential, and a great addition to anyone’s reggae library.

Bailey, Elroy – “Red Hot Dub” – [Burning Sounds]

Brian Damage   12/8/2022   12-inch, Reggae

Another smoker from 1979. This is the debut by Elroy Bailey, the bassist for the British outfit Black Slate.

Rather than loop some recycled rhythm tracks with echo, Mr. Bailey opts for a clean-cut late seventies dub sound played live. The result is a mellow, easygoing dub record that feels like a Sunday afternoon jam among friends. No personnel credits, but it feels like Sly Dunbar on the tubs.

Two thumbs way up for this one.

Twinkle Brothers, The – “Dub Massacre Part 4” – [Twinkle]

Brian Damage   11/14/2022   12-inch, Reggae

Subtitled “The Killing Zone” – this record is a compilation of rhythm tracks from three Twinkle Brothers (Norman and Ralston Grant, and friends) records released in the late 80s. This particular record is from 1989.

The dub I grew up on as a teenager was Mikey Dread, King Tubby, Scientist, etc., so for me, the weirder and deeper the dub, the better. The Brothers’ previous Dub Massacre records rate very highly with me, so I had elevated expectations for Part 4.

This installment is not so much a dub massacre, as a dub skirmish. Or a dub trip to the emergency room for some stitches.

The Twinkle Brothers get it done, for the most part, but they have a pretty high bar to clear, and their heavy reliance on what was cutting-edge instrumentation in the 80s sounds a bit dated now. The keys are really front and center on these tracks, and the synths of that time don’t take the place of actual horns and organ, so as I’m listening, I’m hearing the missing pieces. And the studio experimentation doesn’t go nearly as far as their previous releases. Having said that, any Twinkle Brothers release is going to kick it over on most other dub records, so any criticism on my part is really the Brothers competing with themselves. Side Two is more successful than the first side to my ears. Your mileage may vary.

Nevertheless, Dub Massacre Part 4 is a solid and essential release that belongs in any dub enthusiast’s collection.

Orbital – “Wonky” – [Acp]

incognito   10/15/2013   12-inch, A Library

This is Orbital’s first album since 2004’s “Blue” and also the first recording of original material since their reformation in 2008. Paul and Phil Hartnoll are back in the studio, and it’s quite a joy to hear new Orbital tracks. “Wonky” refers to the brother’s own perception that they’ve never really fit in – and certainly, this is an album unlike the Orbital I remember fondly from the 90s. There are a couple of unexpected things here – “Beelzedub” plays around with 85bpm dubbed out hip hop before doubling up the tempos and going into hard and techy drum and bass, while the title track “Wonky” features English MC Lady Leshurr and treads along acidy, big beat breaks.?? There are a few forays into ambient downtempo dub and synth pop, but there are some really choice tracks here that remind us that they’re still Orbital. “One Big Moment,” “Stringy Acid” and “Where Is It Going?” all have that the vibe of early to mid 90s Orbital that made tracks like “Belfast,” “Chime,” and Halcyon. While this may not on the whole be my favorite album of theirs, there are a few tracks here that really stand out for me, and I am extremely excited that the guys are back in the studio making tunes.

Author and Punisher – “Ursus Americanus” – [Seventh Rule Recordings]

incognito   3/26/2013   12-inch, A Library

Industrial downtempo doesnt quite begin to describe this, although it’s a fair start. Author and Punisher weaves together a harsh, metallic but surpirisingly palatable tapestry with Ursus Americanus. Taking elements of dark ambient, power electronics, dub and sludge/doom metal and blending them seamlessly into an album of hard as f*ck riddims. Maybe not for the weak of ears, as this reminded me of Vex’d, if Vex’d was really into doom metal. Fans of harder and darker shades of electronica, breakcore and noise will appreciate this offering of dubby and sludgy beats. Bassface all round.

Lars Leonhard and Alvina Red – “Saisons – Le Quatre Saisons” – [Kompakt Schallplatten]

incognito   3/25/2013   A Library, CD

This full length release from German producer Lars Leonhard, titled “Seasons – The Four Seasons” is a very lush album. It has a minimal techno vibe, with heavy dub influence. There are bits of dub and downtempo, deep house and techno. There are some very obvious Rhythm and Sound types of sounds, samples and filters throughout the album, but if anything, that should be a compliment. Alvina Red sings in French on a few of the tracks. I love this album – its simultaneously warm, ambient and lush, yet minimal. Really excellent release.

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