2018`s almost here. So as 2017 draws to a close I`m gonna have a sort through the piles (and piles and piles and piles) of records that have accumulated around my decks over the last year. Genre by genre, country by country and continent by continent, I`ll share a few of my favourites with you. Here come the Reggae and Dub.
Babe Roots feat. Baba Ras – Spiritual Connection – Big Horn Sound
Like Hyperdub holding a Grounation in the bowels of Creation Rebel`s Starship Africa. Both sides of this piece of vinyl will test any system.
Carl Campbell – Zion Dub – Carl`s Records
Seriously energetic Revolutionaries` Dubs, originally from 1978. Players including Sly, Robbie, Augustus Pablo, and Tommy McCook.
Winsome – #2 – Sugar Records
Sweet, Minimalist, super chilled-out, Digital Lovers Rock with debt to Mad Professor`s Ariwa.
Soul Sugar – Chase The Light – Gee
Guillaume “Gee” Metenier`s Parisian collective cover Jackie Mittoo, Augustus Pablo, Timmy Thomas and Jimmy Smith. Making like The Wailers with Scratch. Tubby with The Skatalites.
Al Campbell – I Want You Around – Burning Sounds
More Lovers. And again from 1978, but given a new lease of life by Burning Sounds. Sly and Robbie joined by Deadly Headley Bennett, Ansil Collins and Glady Anderson. Recorded and mixed at Channel One by Hugh Brown AKA U Brown.
Jah Wobble And Diggory Kenrick – Ascension – Pressure Sounds
One of my biggest – perhaps my only – disappointment this year regarding Ban Ban Ton Ton, was that I didn`t get to interview Jah Wobble. I drafted pages (and pages and pages and pages) of questions to coincide with Emotional Rescue`s compilation, The Lago Years. But it didn`t happen. It`s quite possible that the big man figured I could do one, with my enquiries ranging from AA meetings to spiritual “seers”. This 10” rides an unmistakable Wobble bass-line, coloured by Diggory`s wistful flute. Four mixes take it further and further out there. I made myself an 11 minute edit, and considered posting the unanswered questions.
Doctor Pablo & The Dub Syndicate – Dr. Who? – ON-U Sound / WARP
WARP continue to remaster and repress ON-U Sound`s back catalogue. This year it was the turn of Dub Syndicate to see their early LPs and unreleased versions made available for the youth, completists and folks who`d worn out their original copies. With so many tracks to chose from (the whole of the unearthed Displaced Masters is essential), Doctor Pablo blowing his melodica through Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire`s Dr Who serves as an accessible way in. It should, by rights, be cheesy, but instead it is absolutely brilliant. A stoned, sad reprise of childhood evenings spent watching the “Green Death” from behind the couch.
Tradition – Captain Ganja And The Space Patrol – Bokeh Versions
UK Dub from 1980. Effects-laden and Sci-Fi themed. Again like Starship Africa. But with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Super strange and super mellow. In places it`s almost Easy-Listening. Like Peter Nero or Herb Alpert in the Echo Chamber. Reissued by the secretive outernational Bokeh Versions crew, with links to Seekersinternational (who were responsible for that radical reworking of Red Snapper`s Prince Blimey).
Joe Higgs – There’s A Reward For Me – Pressure Sounds
Sublime sufferers from the guy who taught Bob Marley and The Wailers to sing. Shot through with melancholy, and determination. Eric Gale`s guitar cries for the whole of the flip. If I were allowed only one from this list, then this would be it.
U Roy – Dread In A Babylon – Get On Down
A repress of the classic 1975 LP from one of JA`s original DJs. I love the way the ad libs (freestyles?) weave in and out of the backing track`s vocal, on the face of it in child-like simplicity, yet adding weight. complexity and meaning.
Devon Russell – Move On Up – Spacetalk
This Curtis Mayfield song is one I treasured as a teen. Finding Devon Russell`s cover gave me an excuse to start playing it – and hopefully absorbing its optimism – again. Taken from Russell`s impossible to locate Darker Than Blue LP, Jeremy Spellacey put it on his Crown Ruler Sound Compilation for Spacetalk.
Najavibes & Faya Horns – Keep Blowing – Fruits Records
The horny instrumental of veteran vocalist, I-Kong`s Keep Grooving. A play on William DeVaughan`s Be Thankful. Like Soul Sugar, it reminds me a lot of the feelgood vibes of Lord Echo and Mike Fabulous. With a soaring sax and a tad of Chaz Jankel`s To Woo Lady Kong lovingly stirred in. The 12 also features some nice “Machined” versions by Androo.
Various – King Jammy`s Dancehall – Dub Store
Tokyo`s peerless Dub Store collected all the 7s they`ve released in conjunction with Jammy`s since 2010. Unearthed a few unreleased cuts and dubs. Put them all together across four 2xLPs to produce an essential document of King Jammy`s Dancehall reign between 1984 to 1991.