Vintage Jamaican 'rock steady' rhythms produced by Duke Reid circa 1966-68;dusted off and dubbed-up by his nephew Errol Brown sometime in the 70's. Reid's legacy in the Jamaican music industry is legendary: after waging an often violent turf war with Coxsone Dodd's Studio 1 label during the ska era, Reid's Treasure Isle studio emerged as the definitive 'hit-maker' during the island's 'rock steady' period - the direct musical precursor to reggae that favoured US soul inspired harmonies and melodies and majestic, laid-back beats.
Pleasingly, this set of dub versions features tracks stripped almost entirely of the original vocals. I say 'pleasingly' because as much as I am enamoured of the wonderful music, the tendency at the time for placing mundane 'relationship' and 'love' lyrics on them is far less appealing. On "Pleasure Dub" the tremendous musical performances and songwriting skills of Tommy McCook and The Supersonics band is allowed the chance to shine brightly - sublime, swinging, skanking grooves led by melodic and lyrical bass riffs and bolstered by wonderful horn cadences and percussive guitar picking.
Errol Brown's dub techniques throughout are subtle but effective; rather than using the 'melodies dropped in and out' method most contemporary mixers were fond of, Brown leaves pretty much all of the instrumentation intact, and liberally seasons them with effects: 'splashing' echo applied to every third crashing drum beat and harmonic brass, piano and guitar lines dripping in ethereal 'gated reverb'. The most startling effects are used on the remaining fragments of vocal lines that surface momentarily: random syllables trapped in time and space echoing and swirling surreally through the mix.
Track highlights are plentiful, and the rhythms will be familiar to many - The Paragons' "Tide Is High" ("DUB WITH STRINGS"), Ken Parker's "I Can't Hide" ("MANY QUESTIONS"), Phyllis Dillon & Hopeton Lewis' "The Right Track" ("TRACKING DUB")...all proven, bona fide rock steady classics dubbed to perfection. "LIFT OFF" packs a beautiful flute riff and a cavernously deep, groovy bass line; and the phased, resonating horn intros to "BOND STREET ROCK" and "DREADS LEAVING BABYLON" have great impact. But all tracks pale alongside the grand, regal and melancholic minor-key swing of the beautifully plaintive "RIDE DE DUB". The CD issue of this album also features 6 bonus tracks amended to the original twelve; including the gritty funk of "SIDEWALK DOCTOR", and 2 nearly-identical dubs of John Holt's brilliant Arabian-flavoured "Ali Baba" rhythm.
Duke Reid was a strait-laced former policeman who had a vociferous anti-ganja stance and certainly wasn't very sympathetic to Rastafarianism; these recordings (and the earlier "Treasure Isle In Dub Vols 1 & 2" albums) however, offer the chance to hear some of the great man's finest productions infused with a profound and deep, otherworldly mysticism perfectly in tune with the best dub reggae of the age.
This is a BRILLIANT dub album. In my top 10 amongst 100's. The notes say mixed by Duke Reid's nephew, Errol Brown, in the early 70's, & well done to him, & Tommy McCook & the Supersonics for a great album. Thanks to the great Duke Reid of course. The original tunes are all recognisable, if you're a fan of Jamaican music you'll know them all, but these dubs are sensational. Its got a mellow vibe compared to much dub from later in the 70's & early in the 80's, but these dubs are truly musically beautiful, the rhythms are killer & the sound quality is good. I understand Errol Brown made 3 dub albums of Treasure Isle rhythms, what a shame it was only 3! The other two, Treasure Isle in Dub Vols 1 & 2 are great as well. All three are highly recommended.