Dub It Up With Bristol/Reggae Archive Records Print E-mail
Written by Nev Brooks   
Sunday, 03 February 2013 03:00


As readers of my ad-hoc reviews of this particular music genre are no doubt aware, “I likes me Reggae!!!!!”


There you are it’s out in the open and I’m feeling much better for it too.


Sound N PressureYou know one of the things that attracted me to the genre in the first place was an interest in why a lot of the bands I started off listening to back in the day such as The Clash, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Police and others too numerous to mention were all professing to a liking for this then un-know to me form of music.


So I began to do some research, immediately falling into a liking for amongst others Black Uhuru, Burning Spear, early days Aswad, Yellowman, amongst numerous others. Going through this musical exploration I came across an LP that opened the genre right up for me, Aswad’s ‘New Chapter in Dub’, which was closely followed by Burning Spear and their ‘Garvey’s Ghost’ platter. I suppose what caught me was the way the music had been stripped right down, altered within the studio, so what you got was the real feel for the music, music set up as an living breathing entity (if you will) without a lead player (well unless you count the engineer or producer, because after all it was a stylised interpretation of an original work) so where did this new sub genre of Reggae kick in from?


Well, according to the Primordial Dub Realm forum “Dub music began in Jamaican production studios in the late 1960s. Why? You might well ask. Reggae Dub versions were initially developed for both creative and economic reasons: they didn’t require extra studio sessions but they required invention and experimentation in order to create something new from existing tracks. This was only possible because Jamaica didn’t ratify an act passed worldwide, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works when it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1962, which allowed artists to rework musical creations without copyright concerns until 1994.”


Osbourne Ruddock, AKA King Tubby, is widely credited as the inventor of Dub music, and any dub you listen to today still utilises, Tubby’s techniques. What has happened though, is that as equipment has advanced the depth of sound available has changed giving you a much wider pallet to shape the feel of the music.


On The Ground In DubThis to me is a crucial part of good dub, as with our usual rock heroes stripping their music back to an unplugged (acoustic) format, we rave about the feeling and raw emotions on display, good Dub goes deeper, removing the artist and working with the feeling within the music, thus making the music the centre point, not the artist. Maybe even enhancing the emotion that drove the music in the first place.


Picking things back up listening to some of the really strong Bristol/Reggae Archives Records releases that have meandered my way over the last year from artists like Black Roots, Talisman, Jashwa Moses, to name a few one thing that has been absent from their portfolio has been a full length Dub release something that Mike Darby has now put right in fine style with this triumvirate of releases.


First up and what an introduction, as we get Dub music mixed in with some classy Roots Reggae on ‘Sound ‘N’ Pressure Story” out on Reggae Archive Records. Now this really is a cracking compilation make no bones about it.


Inspired by the first wave of UK produced Digi Roots and Dub he was hearing at Nick Manasseh's Roots Rock Reggae sessions at London's Dingwalls and Jah Shaka dances, reggae lover and club promoter Anthony Cummins got together with friends Adam Holden (Fish), Mark Evans (Suffurah) and Hamish Brown (All Nation Rockers), to see about getting some studio time and trying their hand at creating their own music (or so the blurb says). This LP then is made up from the 12’ singles released at the time, plus what would have been the unreleased fifth single along with some other unreleased stuff.


Jah Time Has ComeWhat you pick up almost immediately with this release is the subtle nuances in style and the different approaches adopted by the likes of Fish and The All Nation Rockers, with the Fish and Suffrah track, ‘Warn The Nation’ one of the stand outs, by just tweaking the roots music into the Dub format. Being honest though there really isn’t a weak track on this LP, and you can drift along with the instrument of your choice on any number of Dub classics, losing yourself in the music. But do check out ‘Against The Tide”, “No Man Curse” and Theme from “Move The Posts” which to me needs a special mention, largely because it could have led the way for any number of the Bristol “Trip Hop” bands, being much more electronic based almost industrial at times, this must surely have been an influence on Tricky and to a certain extent Massive Attack too.


Moving onwards from ‘Sound ‘N’ Pressure Story’ we have the full length Dub version of the latest LP release by Black Roots, namely ‘On The Ground In Dub’ (out on Sugarshack Records via Bristol Archive). Now I raved about this LP on release and being totally honest I actually now prefer this Dub version. The music takes on a different dimension, the production is superb, and the horns present on ‘Militancy’ take on a more strident feel in this stripped back format. This is definitely an LP in two parts where up until ‘Slavery’ you get the insistent roots messages looking backwards, before the LP lifts with ‘Oh Mama Africa’ moving things forward from a positive viewpoint. What also hits you with this LP is the fact that as it’s new, it sounds cleaner and more modern, there are certainly a lot more production tricks used, and this is a long way from those early King Tubby days. However as a dub release this ranks alongside some of the aforementioned early days classics and is rapidly becoming one of my go to Reggae LP’s. Cracking stuff!


Rounding it all off this time around we have the latest 12” from Jashwa Moses, (also out on Sugarshack Records via Bristol Archive) and what more can I say? The Rootikal Redub of ‘Jah Time Has Come’ is superb, but check out the other versions on show too as they all give a different feel to the track, couple this with a stunning version of ‘Suffering Is In The past” alongside the dub version of same.


I am looking forward to catching Jashwa in the Fiddlers Club in Bristol in the very near future; he was one of the standout performers at the Bristol Archive Records Reggae Showcase last summer. Reggae belongs on the live stage and if I’ve peaked your interest just a bit, or you want to experience something a little bit different watch out for Talisman or Black Roots they are both gigging regularly, get out there and give it a go.


For all you Dub War or Skindred fans out there this is what helped shape their sound. Enjoy