Saturday, November 23, 2013

Down in the Dubs

I've always had a love/hate relationship with Dub music until recently. At first listen I think holy shit this is the most amazing thing i've ever heard. After two more songs i'm thinking: this all sounds exactly the same! Reverb drenched drums, dub dropout, and delayed vocals: mix and repeat. BOOORING.

I kind of wrote the whole genre off a while back until I read England's Dreaming where Jon Savage describes how big of an influence a lot of reggae and dub producers were on the emerging punk movement. Not only in production of the music but in the rebellious nature of the lyrics. I had no idea Lee Perry produced that Clash single... So now i'm down in the Dub, soaking it all in.

The whole history of dub music is interesting and shit Jamaica sounds like an awful place to live then and now if you're poor. Just watch The Harder They Come for a time capsule of what life was like for the early pioneers. Doesn't sound too far off from the modern rap rag to riches mythos except they never got rich! I am utterly fascinated by the moving sound systems used for parties (see above). Thats some Mad Max shit right there.

I kind of see dub as the beginning of rap (deejay toasting), remixing, and a hell of an influence on later electronic music that I cant give two shits about. I'd go so far as to say when punk, krautrock and dub all meet up in the late 1970's modern music as we know it today was born.

Sifting through all the sameness that dub can be, there are some monstrous and just plan crazy ideas within the best recordings that eventual mutated into other wilder forms. Here are some of my favorites.

You gotta start with that wild maniac producer Lee Scratch Perry. This guy made a gazillion records so many in fact i bet he doesn't even remember half of them. I just picked up both his Megaton Dub volumes on wax. You cant go wrong here.

Dr. Alimantado was picked up on the Green Sleeves label when John Lydon said this dude ruled. He totally does. That bass is impossibly deep. For a Doctor you'd think he'd zip up his pants for the record cover.

The Congos Heart of the Congos was produced the fuck out of this world by wild man Lee Scratch Perry. This is the record where I said i never need any other Jamaican music. This is it. I was wrong but still its one amazing record. Phased and delayed: I hope those falsetto vocals don't grate ya!

Augustus Pablo played that wondrous bong like melodica and King -don't smoke weed in my studio -Tubby dubbed him into the stratosphere. King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown is one of the most famous dub records and for good reason. Strap on some headphones and you're likely not to return to this earthly realm until the duration of the record.

PRINCE FAAAARRRR I! This guy i'd never heard of until i read about him in England's Dreaming. What was this guy SMOKING? Oh right... Listen to that crazy synth!

Slits on vocals for this one.

Joe Gibbs was a producer and made many many many records. A poor mans Lee Perry? Nope! Dude had his own style.


Keith Hudson

Scientist took dub to a whole new level with Scientist Meets The Space Invaders. So much space! so much room for activities!

Prince Jammy is right up there with Scientist. With that toy synth in the mix, this gets pretty close to Cosmic Jokers territory.

With Dub making tracks more spacious DeeJays would fill the voids with toasting a precursor to rapping. Lone Ranger toasting about his M16

Clint Eastwood & General Saint are basically rapping on this one. If you cant get the fuck down to this one you have no soul.


As dub became more controlled the DeeJays took over. Ya got yer Yellow Man here and god damn i love it when Eek A Mouse busts out in Mexican regalia, does his thing and the crowd just goes nuts. What a character.

King Jammy dubbing in the studio

Teeth of the Sea - Master

So you're cruising around a post apocalypse landscape in a hovering mustang with your hybrid hyena/dog companion at your side: what are blasting out of your stereo? Jam the fuck out to Teeth of the Sea's Master. Cyborg prog rock that teeter over into epic-ness with squeaky clean electronics knocking against dirgy bass lines and just enough spaciousness. Is that a god damn trumpet in the mix? Hell yeah. Phillip Glass meets Tron then goes Nine Inch Nails. The soundtrack to you next road trip into a destroyed future.