Augustus Pablo was one of the most original and gifted of the Jamaican artists who emerged during the 1970's. As well as releasing a large number of mainly instrumental and dub recordings under his own name, he worked extensively as a session musician and was also successful as a producer, with credits on a formidable array of great records by the likes of Jacob Miller, Hugh Mundell, Junior Delgado and others.
Pablo's music is instantly recognisable and is one of the most distinctive sounds in reggae: tight rhythms, sparse arrangements and simple but flowing melody lines, usually in a minor key, with either a keyboard (organ, piano or clavinet) or more often his famous melodica as the lead instrument. It has been described as his "far eastern" style, of which the sublime "Up warrika hill" on this album is a perfect example.
"Original rockers" was first released in 1979 and is a compilation of tracks that appeared on various singles from 1972 to 1975. It includes some of Pablo's very earliest work for producer Clive Chin alongside more accomplished self-produced material mixed by King Tubby, with whom Pablo enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership.
It isn't really a dub album, and with one or two exceptions (notably "Jah dread" and "Park lane special") contains little in the way of fx from Tubby's mixing desk. "Braces a boy" features a toast from Dillinger and other tracks have spoken intros or snatches of vocals which occasionally surface in the mix, but it's mainly instrumental. Overall, it's an immaculate collection of Pablo originals such as "Cassava piece" (an early version of the rhythm subsequently recut as "King Tubby meets rockers uptown") and reworkings of well-known rhythms like the excellent opener "Rockers dub" (based on the Heptones classic "Love won't come easy"). My only complaint is that it's so short. Thirty minutes of classic Pablo is simply not enough, so needless to say it's not the only Augustus Pablo album you need to buy....