Blood and Fire Records - definitely the thinking reggae fan's reissue label of choice! Sadly long defunct, this imprint specialized in beautifully presented, well-researched and immaculately remastered sets from Jamaica's finest recording artists. This sampler provides a very good introduction into the label’s heavyweight, echo and reverb laden repertoire. And unlike the many of the albums it samples, it’s still easy enough to get a reasonably priced new copy on CD.
Focusing exclusively on the roots and dub sounds of reggae's mid to late seventies golden era, the Blood and Fire’s first releases focused largely on King Tubby's wild mixes of popular Bunny Lee productions. Therefore it is fitting that the work of Tubby and acolytes such as Prince Philip Smart, Prince Jammy and Scientist forms the musical nucleus of this compilation. Highlights include the sharp 'Ethiopian Version', a reworking of Rod Taylor's awesome 'Ethiopian Kings' (featuring the Soul Syndicate Band), the militant rockers of 'MPLA Dub' (from Tapper Zukie's excellent 'In Dub' album), whilst a young Scientist puts his precocious engineering skills to full effect as he works his magic on a rugged Don Mais rhythm ('One Man Dub').
Vocalists are well represented, the set featuring not one but two Horace Andy cuts, these exemplifying both his militant Rastafarian lyrics ('Government Land') as well as a more relaxed persona ('Good Vibes'). Like other great Jamaican singers - namely Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown – Andy could move effortlessly from addressing righteous spiritual-political issues to relationships and issues of the heart. With his voice married to the hottest rhythms, recorded with Jamaica's best producers and musicians, such versatility would ensure his massive popularity in the dancehall during the roots era.
Burning Spear, whose 'Institution' (included here) is one of the highlights of his 'Social Living' album, is by contrast totally focused roots-and-culture singer. Prince Alla's sweet, plaintive proverb-laden 'Bucket Bottom', as recorded for Bertram Brown, maintains the high standard set, even more so Lee Perry's shimmering, hypnotic production of the Congos 'Children Crying'. Recorded at Black Ark whilst at the very apex of his creativity, in its finished form on record it sounds like it has been beamed down from some as yet undiscovered planet!!!
Deejays also have a presence on the track list, to a slightly lesser extent. My particular favourite is the comparatively lesser known Big Joe on 'In the Ghetto', where he toasts over a monumentally heavy version of the Satta Massagana rhythm, originally produced by Bunny Lee for singer Johnny Clarke.
No reggae fan should be without a couple of Blood and Fire albums. Unfortunately a lot of the really essential sets are long out of print. Even second hand copies are now fetching silly prices on Ebay and Marketplace, but it is still possible to get some good ones at a decent price new. And sets previously released by Blood and Fire featuring artists like Keith Hudson ('Pick a Dub'), Sylford Walker, Tapper Zukie ('In Dub') and Horace Andy ('In the Light' AND its dub counterpart) have now been reissued on other labels.
This sampler is not just a vital introduction to a fine reggae label - given the rarity of some of the releases it showcases it also commemorates an institution that meant a lot to me and undoubtedly lots of other reggae fans - the benchmark against which all niche classic album remasters ought to be judged. Buy it, grab a slice of musical history - then kick back, grab a beer, light up and subject yourself to the drum and bass grooves and feel the spiritual power. Enjoy!!!
Dubwise & Otherwise Volume 1 is a nicely produced collection of dub-reggae classics. Compiled and released by the respectable label Blood & Fire label, which some claim to be the best, it contains tunes such as 'In The Ghetto' by Big Joe, 'Government Land' by Horace Andy and the lovely instrumental 'Michael Talbot Affair' by Kieth Hudson. Beautiful tune.... Also featuring are plenty of dub and dub-reggae cuts from the one and only King Tubby with a few other artists thrown in for good measure. The Dubwise & Otherwise series is very good value for money and essential for any discerning reggae fan. Great relaxation music. If you like this try: Dubwise & Otherwise Volume 2
Excellent budget-priced compilation overview of the first five years of Blood & Fire records, featuring heavyweight roots reggae dubs, vocal and deejay tracks. The deejays presented are the legendary I-Roy, and the lesser-known Big Joe (riding Johnny Clarke's version of "Satta Massagana") and Jah Stitch (who "toasts" a sentence beginning with each letter of the words A.F.R.I.C.A., Z.I.O.N. and I.T.H.I.O.P.I.A. !)
The dub selection is dominated by King Tubby mixes: Rod Taylor's "Ethiopian Kings" ("King David, he was a black man / King Solomon, he was a black man...") is epic, and "Concord" by the Morwells is quite unnerving and intense with a creepy piano line and random snatches of vocal. Prince Jammy also shines with his dub of Leroy Smart's excellent "Trying To Wreck Up My Life", whilst "Michael Talbot Affair" is Keith Hudson's saxophone-led dub of Delroy Wilson's "Adisabab" (itself an adaptation of "House Of The Rising Sun").
Vocal highlights are "Children Crying" from the impeccable Congos' album "Heart Of The Congos" (featuring soaring-heavenward harmonies, and the infamous "mooing cow" effect) and Prince Alla's poignant and beautiful "Bucket Bottom", featuring adages like "Everyday bucket go a well, one day the bottom must drop out. Never gonna miss that water until the well runs dry..."
This is a quality compilation from a quality record company with impeccable taste in 70's Jamaican reggae music. Get this and you will buy the albums the tracks come from, guaranteed.
Like Volume 2 this contains great dub reggae you can listen to in it's own right as well as passing the time with on headphones when you're on a long train journey looking out of the window at the scenery. Highly recommended.