on 5 April 2011
Prince Jammy's work is often unfairly lumped together with that of King Tubby and Scientist, and is often seen as inferior to both. His own achievements in dub reggae are rarely re-released and rarely anthologized and so this box set finally rectifies the situation. Focussing on Jammy's dub remixes of his own productions from 1977 to 1984, 'Evolution Of Dub Vol.6' features the original albums "Kamikazi Dub", "Uhuru In Dub" and "Osbourne In Dub"; plus a new collection of rare remixes from the mid-eighties called "Crucial In Dub", which may interest the jaded 'been there, got that' collector type somewhat.
(Reviews of individual CDs follow in chronological order:)
Though "Uhuru In Dub" was originally released in 1982, its rhythms are actually from 1977, when Jammy produced Black Uhuru's debut LP "Love Crisis". The album was re-released in 1982 with subtle new overdubs (extra brass etc.), after the group had achieved major worldwide success, and Jammy's dub set followed shortly after.
Most of the album drives along at a fast pace typical of the 1977 'rockers' style, with plenty of Sly's double-drop drum tapping and militant drum rolls. The rhythms work best when they retain their melodic elements; such as the breezy synthesizer lines on "BAD GIRLS DUB", or the punchy horn riffs on "MYSTIC MIX" and "FIRE HOUSE SPECIAL". The tracks that lack these melodic augmentations tend to underwhelm. Whilst Jammy throws plenty of dub techniques into the mix on these tracks, the bare rhythms driven by workmanlike bass lines just aren't interesting enough to hold the attention.
"Kamikazi Dub" followed in 1979, following two years of Jammy developing his experience recording deep roots reggae with singers such as Sugar Minott, Lacksley Castell and Hugh Mundell. This further experience and confidence manifests wonderfully on "Kamikazi Dub" in a great collection of rhythms infused with melody and thudding groove.
"THRONE OF BLOOD" (a dub of Lacksley Castell's 'What A Great Day') and "BROTHERS OF THE BLADE" (Sugar Minott's 'Give The People What They Want') showcase Jammy's unique dub mixing style. The tracks are peppered with many little rhythmic and melodic nuances: phased, mutant horns; spectral psychedelic guitar; subtle jazzy organ licks and 'staggering' echo. Jammy has the track's different layers unfold very organically and very subtly. His technique is very understated because the dub textures and FX don't stick around for long before they are replaced by a new one. This style of constant aural morphing keeps the momentum flowing very eloquently.
Elsewhere "SHAOLIN TEMPLE" rocks with a very deep funky groove; and "DOWNTOWN SHANGHAI ROCK" is the darkest and most mystically evocative stomper on the album - complete with fast drum roll punctuation and swirling vortexes of sound-test bleeps. Great stuff!
1983's 'Osbourne In Dub' is a collection of Johnny Osbourne remixes - some tracks from the "Water Pumping" LP I recognized, and some I didn't. These tracks were recorded in the middle of the 'dancehall' phase of reggae music; a phase dominated by sparse minimalism and driven by a metronomic bass and snare drum pattern. Johnny Osbourne was one of the definitive vocalists of the dancehall era, and his voice is featured on the great Scientist albums 'Scientist Wins The World Cup' and 'Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires'. Unfortunately 'Osbourne In Dub' sounds weak in comparison; lacking any hint of Osbourne's vocals coupled with dull rhythms and a poor production with too-loud drums.
And so on to the 'Crucial In Dub' (rarities CD). The tracks are from the 1984-85 period, at a time just prior to Jamaica's digital reggae revolution in which Jammy hit big with "Under Mi Sleng Ting". There is one digital track on "Crucial In Dub" called "NUFF CORN" (a modern update of Larry Marshall's classic "Throw Me Corn"), and elsewhere on the album you'll hear the synthesized clapping and 'arcade machine' drum bleeps which Sly Dunbar had popularized in Black Uhuru.
The sinewy syncopated guitar and bass line in "PRESIDENT DUB" is interesting; and "CONSCIENCE DUB", a version of Black Crucial's "Conscience Speaks" is another highlight.
In summary then: 'Evolution Of Dub Vol.6' is worth the cheap price for the "Kamikazi Dub" CD alone (earlier versions of which had been getting steadily more expensive recently). "Uhuru In Dub' is interesting enough, and the rarity of the recordings on 'Crucial In Dub' are a plus. Now if only Greensleeves had swapped 'Osbourne In Dub' for 'Prince Jammy Destroys The Invaders' the collection would have been worth its weight in gold!!
on 29 January 2014
the series forges onward and into digital territory, overseen by prince jammy. but be warned - this box contains a 'pedestrian' disc, 'osbourne in dub' plays from one end to the other without much to say, really, apart from the exclusion ( a trademark of jammy's) of vocal traces doesn't help this album. the quality of the others enclosed more than compensate.
precision and crystal clear sound are also features of jammy's work, and thus kick off with 'crucial in dub', a collection of digital tunes from perhaps the best known exponent of the process. all indicative of his unique style, and of the highest calibre. as a previous reviewer indicated, 'kamikaze dub' is worth the admission price on it's own, and is a classic example of a dub album, (brilliant sleeve as well). one of the strengths of this series is making hard to find or prohibitively expensive music widely available (and for a sensible price). 'uhuru in dub' is detailed above, and is a fascinating piece, particularly for fans of later period black uhuru.
the series continues to educate and entertain on a grand scale.
on 25 November 2011
This little box of four dub albums is a great source of that feel good vibe. The vibe just keeps chugging along while you go about ya business. My favourite is Uhuru in dub so to me that one stands out, there is no below par only good and really good. If you like dub this won't disappoint, much along the K T line of vibe, slightly lighter perhaps. worth a go I would say.