Reggae / Dub / 2018 In Review

Pressure Sounds hooked up with Burning Spear`s spar, Phillip Fullwood, and made available his two solo singles, Love Everyone, and I Gave You My Word, plus the accompanying Words In Dub set (all from 1979). They also reissued the sole LP by I-Mo-Jah, the group Fullwood was in with Cassandra Jenkins and Winston Mckenzie.

Parent label, On-U Sound repressed Creation Rebel`s Dub From Creation, for Record Store Day. Originally released on Hitrun in 1978, it documents Adrian Sherwood`s first steps in the studio. They also teamed up with Hackney`s Conscious Sounds and Dougie Wardrop to issue Ghetto Priest`s latest, Plant My Herb. 

South London label Studio 16 raised Disco Devil Volume 1, which collected five classic Lee Perry productions. One of which was a near ten minute version of Lord Creator`s Such Is Life. One of my all time favourite tunes to come out of Perry`s Black Ark. 

More vintage Lee Perry came in the form of Mellotones` What A Botheration. A 1968 musical bridge between Reggae and Ska. Reissued on Scratch`s own reactivated Upsetter label. If you dug that then you also needed to grab a copy of The Maytals Leslie Kong-produced Night And Day. Reproduced from a 1969 Beverley`s 7, right down to the art work, by Boston`s Get On Down. 

Another veteran producer, Little Roy, also opened up his archives. His Tafari imprint, in collaboration with Jah Fingers, repressed the 12 of Jah Can Count On I, recorded under the name, Earl Lowe. Jah Fingers themselves reissued, first Mighty Threes` huge, Rasta Business, and followed that up by combining the trio`s album Africa Shall Stretch Forth Her Hand with its Dub counterpart. 

Most of the Dub I picked up this year seemed to be Bristol-related, or from Down Under. Bristol`s new guard, of Pinch and Peverelist, plundered the archives of pioneers, Smith & Mighty, for the Ashley Road Sessions. Recently relocated to Bristol, Bokeh Versions tapped into the mid-90s steppers, and Jah Shaka CD-R secrets of Jonah Dan and TNT Roots (I also loved John T. Gast`s rework of the latter`s Chant Down Babylon Verse 2, for 5 Gate Temple) . 

Melbourne’s Butter Sessions supplied Turner Street Sound`s Bunsens Vol. 1, neighbours, Left Ear Records, uncovered Delaney/Venn`s Cub Dub (on the Antipodean Anomalies comp). Adelaide’s Isle Of Jura borrowed from Blighty, including Brighton`s Astral Engineering on their Transmission One collection. 

According to David Rodigan, Bunny Wailer`s Blackheart Man is the best Reggae album ever released. And if anyone knows, then Rodigan knows. But my vote goes to Freddie McGregor`s debut, Bobby Bobylon. Originally released in 1979, Studio One put it back out there in 2018 as a deluxe double, featuring extra tracks and extended discomixes. Lovers, and Roots, chat-up lines and Rasta chants, there’s not a duff tune on it. Japan’s Dub Store, coincidently, revisited Dubd’sco Vol. 1., the dubs to Blackheart Man. 

While I’m on Japan, 180g introduced the sample-delia of Tokyo`s Videotapemusic to the outside world. An Augustus Pablo-like melodica lending much of Souvenir a Reggae vibe. Jackie Mittoo enthusiast, Emerson Kitamura, tuned his keys to Jahtari-like Casio-tones, and a sunset lullaby on an E.P. for Osaka’s Em. 

Soul Jazz continued their long running relationship with Studio One, and its founder Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, with a series of super limited etched one-sided 12s. Collecting these as a 5 x 45 Record Store Day box. Standouts for me were the cuts by Alton Ellis and Cedric Im Brooks.

In tribute to Clement Dodd, UK soundsytem operator, Lloyd Blackford, took the name “Coxsone” (Sir Coxsone Outernational). Tribes Man was his label, and Fabienne Miranda`s Prophecy is such a favourite, that I had to purchase a second copy when it reappeared in shops this year. That bass-line is as Funky as fX#k. 

When I used to listen to Rodigan on the radio, back in the early 1980s, Reggae seemed dominated by Greensleeves. The UK label, founded in 1977, has been mining its own vast back catalogue, and 2018 saw reissues of Dr Alimantado`s Best Dressed Chicken In Town, and Jacob Miller`s Who Say Jah No Dread. Alimantado was responsible for Greensleeves second ever release, Born For A Purpose, and was famously played by John Lydon during a radio interview. Further opening Punks up to the sound of Reggae (along with the music of Can, Jon Hassell, and Van Der Graf Generator). Jacob “Killer” Miller’s LP was produced by Augustus Pablo and contains the every-home-should-have-one original of Baby I Love You So, and its landmark version, King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown. 

French label Jamwax did a ton of stuff this year. Jennifer Lara`s Lovers Rock. T.Z. Junior`s Botswanan Bubblegum. Partnering with Emotional Rescue for some Caribbean Disco. The essential Calypso of Mighty Sparrow`s The Slave. But, for me, Tony Clarke`s Hey Little Girl was top of their Reggae pile. 


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