Jah Wobble presents Top Ten Dub Tracks
Bassist for PIL and his Invaders Of The Heart project, Jah Wobble has been pushing the strength of dub music for over 30 years now. I was thrilled to find that the most excellent people at Pathway To Unknown Worlds have sequestered him to submit his Top 10 Dub missives for all to share. While not all tracks could be sourced, the PTUW crew have put together a pretty close summation for our listening pleasure.
“A ‘Baker’s Dozen’ out of Wobble’s top ten dub tracks. I have included the vocal versions of the Culture & Israel Vibration songs and two versions of ‘Concrete Jungle’. Is that single just a figment of the Wob’s imagination? Certainly there was no dub version on the 1973 Island 7″ (WIP 6164) The B side was a track called ‘Reincarnation Soul’ and the versions here are a much earlier cut of the tune produced by Lee Perry as well as an unreleased dub version from 1976. Regarding the King Sunny Adé Remix album. I think that may have been a perk of him being signed to Island Records at the time as to my knowledge the only dub cut to have been released was this version of ‘Ja Funmi’. Lastly John Martyn spent a long time in Jamaica back around 1976 and also played on some Lee Perry & Burning Spear sessions amongst others. ‘Big Muff’ from ‘One World’ was co-written with Lee Perry and Perry’s ‘underwater swirling’ effects are all over the album.” – Pathway To Unknown Worlds
1 KING TUBBY MEETS ROCKERS UPTOWN
Augustus Pablo I first heard this as a pre-release in 1976. Love the sound of Augustus Pablo’s melodica; I am also kinky for the sound of the dubbed-up timbale drums that feature on this recording. King Tubby was the king of pure, heavy-duty dub at that time. It was released in this country on Island Records. Hearing ‘King Tubby’ for the first time had a profound effect on me: it was like hearing music from another cosmos. There are any number of good King Tubby compilations now around – Trojan Records and the Blood & Fire label are good places to look.
2 CONCRETE DUB Bob Marley
I no longer have this record… in fact, I have not heard it for probably 25 years, so I hope it does really exist and is not a figment of my imagination. If memory serves me well, it was the dub version B-side of an Island 7″ single; probably of the track called ‘Concrete Jungle’, from the Catch a Fire album. It must have been one of the first ever domestically released dub singles. It was great to hear a dub version of a Marley track – I nearly always preferred the dub version of a tune. There was more space, and the bass and drums were pushed to the fore.
3 MARCUS GARVEY (DUB VERSION) Burning Spear
One of the very first dub versions I ever heard. I heard it in 1975 on a Friday night on the Capital Radio reggae show. I used to listen to that show religiously – Tommy Vance was the DJ. I now occasionally hear him DJing on heavy-rock stations as I channel-hop.
4 PROMISE IS A COMFORT TO A FOOL Trinity/Yabby You
A classic bassline, with a beautiful vocal refrain, and DJ chat. There are some bass lines that contain the whole mystery of creation within them. This is one of them. Other examples are Roy Budd’s bass line to the title track of Mike Hodges Get Carter, and Cecil McBee’s line on Lonnie Liston Smith’s ‘Expansions’ are two that come immediately to mind. The crediting of reggae musicians is notoriously lax. There are three possible players, re this particular tune. All giants of the bass – Robbie Shakespeare, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett and Clinton Fearon. If I had to put money down on who it is on this track, I would say it was Mr Fearon.
5 TWO SEVENS CLASH Culture
For a while back in 1977, you could not get away from this tune. It still sounds heavenly. It reminds me of walking back from a party in Hackney on a Sunday morning as the sun was coming up. I couldn’t get the tune out of my head.
6 JUJU MUSIC King Sunny Ade
There was a little-known dub version of this classic album, mixed by an engineer that I worked with, called Groucho. What he did was devastating. I would love to hear it again. It was on Island (again!) and was released around 1982.
7 ROWING Dennis Bovell
One of the great musicians of his generation. I used to watch him perform this with his band Matumbi. As with “Juju Music”, I hankered after hearing it again. I’m pleased to say that the label Pressure Sounds has released a compilation of Dennis’s dub stuff, which includes this track.
8 THE SAME SONG Israel Vibration
Similar to our own late, and very great Ian Dury, ‘Skeleton,’ ‘Apple’ and ‘Wiss’ [Israel Vibration’s three members] were stricken by polio in the fifties. This blend of their vocals within a dub context is wonderful. Yet again, there is a great compilation on Pressure Sounds.
9 CONSCIOUS MAN DUB Lee Perry and the Jolly Brothers
You could not have a dub selection without Lee “Scratch” Perry appearing. This is a great example of his idiosyncratic style.
10 SMILING STRANGER John Martyn
This is taken from his 1980 album One World. It was one of the first records outside reggae to utilise dub techniques. Superb.