Thursday, December 31, 2009

let it rip

the snowball manifesto:

The pulsing digital countdown is remorseless. On the PC menu bar. The projected hanging strip in the shopping mall.

Numerologically, '
2010' feels infinitely more apocalyptic than '2001', but the best sounds around continue to share a pedigree in the analogue. Served up reheated. Or merely compressed.

A carbon footprint set in stone. Carved on set sometime back in 1968 when that mysterious black obelisk was first publicly unveiled.

Despite the threat of global meltdown, the new millennium was ushered in on the back of nothing more ruinous than a piece of digital frippery from Robbie Williams. Robbie the Robot. Not so much Lost in Space as lost in the cult of meaningless celebrity.

Seven grammes of powdered Timothy Leary were propelled into orbit aboard the Pegasus rocket in 1997, ultimately burning out in 2003 before its intended deeper migration. Two years later, Hunter S. Thompson settled for only a cannon atop Aspen to distribute his remains; a Gonzo salute with two thumbs squarely on the launch button.

Between December 25th and Hogmany, I have found myself forcibly exposed to all three episodes of 'The Matrix Trilogy' on terrestrial tv. For all its ominous flickering code and John Wooesque choreographed ballet, less than a decade after its first chapter's initial release there is far too much digital dicking around to allow it to climb much higher than a Cubby Broccoli fart. As wholly indigistible as 007 fast food, its bilious aftertaste encapsulates the dire balance of CGI to substance inherent in contemporary culture.

I'm sure there must have been some mainstream highlights in "The Noughties'. I just can't think of (m)any.

In fact, it is enough of an indictment of current trends that video gaming has for some time now provided a more engaging and genuinely immersive experience. There is no ghost in the machine. No elusive cyber deity. If we all take our fingers off the keyboard for more than an instant, there remains nothing more 'out there' than a shadowy lingering fingerprint. A decaying hyperlink to some remote RIAA interred archive. DRM protection by Microsoft stooges in Ray-Bans. CIA Spooks.

So. Let it rip. And keep on blurting.

The hard drive is our fragile collective repository: dry goods and soul food.

Produced by Sonia Pottinger.
Recorded at Treasure Isle, Kingston.
Mixed by Errol Brown.

CULTURE: SKILFUL DUB from "Culture In Dub" LP (Sky Note) 1978 (Jamaica)
CULTURE: TWO SEVENS CLASH DUB from "Two Sevens Clash b/w Dub" 45 (Joe Gibbs) 1977 (Jamaica) [VINYL RIP]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

brotherhood of dub

Coming from the 2006 Auralux issue of "Barrington Levy In Dub (The Lost Mixes From King Tubby's Studio)"; itself a 'lost' counterpart to the 1980 Greensleeves UK release, "The Big Showdown", featuring five mixes by Jah Thomas.

The album was simultaneously issued on The Jah Guidance label in Jamaica as "
Shaolin Temple" with virtually identical sleeve design and track listing, but showcasing ten different mixes; engineered and mixed by Maxie and Scientist at King tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi with Roots Radics providing backing. Produced by Junjo Lawes.

Hats off to NØ.

Recorded at Channel One, Kingston.
Produced by Junjo.
Barrington Levy: vocals.

The Roots Radics:
Santa Davis: drums;
Flabba Holt: bass;
Bingy Bunny & Bo Peep: guitar;
Ansel Collins: keyboards;
Sky Juice: percussion.

Engineered and mixed by Maxie and Scientist.

BARRINGTON LEVY: SHAOLIN TEMPLE DUB from "Barrington Levy In Dub: The Lost Mixes From King Tubby's Studio" CD (Auralux)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ice cold in alex

I have - voluntarily, you understand, and strictly temporarily - been sidelined in our somewhat communal living space to wearing headphones. This is something of an alien experience. Hand on heart, motherf@ckers, it shall not last; it does not even enter the Top 50 in my new year's resolution hit list.

So. I trust you are all, my siblings, enjoying the festive respite. If you have not yet resorted to refilling the pump-action shotgun which may or may not lurk at the back of the bedroom closet - or in clear sight if you are a defiant bastard after my own still-beating
- then you have my utmost respect and ongoing best wishes. Triple A. Upright and cardiovuncular.

But. If they have already wasted you in festive reprisal and removed your festering remains then please accept my condolences.

Ah, f@ck. It is a cold time of the year for the most part, and frostily appropriate if you catch my drift. If your great uncle has offended you and yours I trust you had the good taste to toss in a frag. That is what Yule Tide sinning is all about. Kill the f@ckers where they stand and shit and make amends in the cuntdown to this new year coming. 2010 and still taking prisoners.

I love you all brothers and sisters. If you have made it thus far we crouch united in our thrice predestined shackles and bonds. That is the way it is.

We are immersed in subdued screaming, all of us, and nothin' can save us.

Of course, I am a habitual drunk and unbent to salvation, so if you have chanced upon a key in the meantime when no one was looking please forgive my seasonal waffle and don't neglect to forward me the turned metal shard. Such donations are sacrosanct.

And if, like me, you are given to masturbatory woe then clearly I have no reason to beg forgiveness.

Peace and love, brothers and sisters, I am forever barking up the wrong sapling.

Take it away, Alex.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

dr. satan's echo chamber, part ii

"I wouldn't hold a Midnight Mass at midnight because of the drunks. There would be too much trouble."
- Father Joseph McNulty, Glasgow.

Well, nØw. I am speechless. Utterly.
And more than a trifle abashed. 

1000 thanks.

Allegedly, this is Pablo's melodica dub over Earl Flute and Horace Andy's "
Peter and Judas", appearing also on the Mafia and Duke Records imprints as a 7" backed with Keith Hudson & Chuckles.

There is no snow in a tangerine harvest, I know, but we will save you some.

Produced by Keith Hudson,
aka Lloyd Lindburg, 2nd Street Dreads.

AUGUSTUS PABLO: SATAN SIDE VERSION (AKA KISS 14) from "Savage Pencil Presents: Lion vs. Dragon In Dub" CD (Trojan) 2007 (Jamaica / UK)

midnight to six, six, six

Produced by Jimmy Radway for Feh-Me-Time records, this is Augustus Pablo's version of the Errol Dunkley hit of the same name.

Both versions appear on the Feh-Me-Time compilation, "
Keep The Pressure Down", covering the period 1974 - 1977.

Reissued through Prestige on CD sometime in the late 90's.

AUGUSTUS PABLO: CINDERELLA IN BLACK (VERSION) from "Keep The Pressure Down" LP (Feh-Me-Time) 1977 (Jamaica)

ERROL DUNKLEY: BLACK CINDERELLA from "Keep The Pressure Down" LP (Feh-Me-Time) 1977 (Jamaica)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

marley's christmas carol

Many moons ago when we were all much younger - thirty years ago, to be precise - there was a certain Che who frequented the comments section on a Radio Clyde scheduled Wednesday evening show hosted by one Brian Ford.
Kicking off a full two hours before Peel's ethereal drone commenced, Che's lucid ramblings became something of a highlight; a paraphrased hot spot of local color.

Ah. Whatever happened to Che ?
I have sometimes wondered.

This was what white Reggae sounded like in 1979 when not channeled by more sophisticated urban upstarts with Mikey Dread to keep it authentic. Or Bernie Rhodes in the navigator's chair with the director's bullhorn.

One might quibble, but Burns could surely strangle a guitar and make it squeal.

Written by Bob Marley

Jake Burns: guitar, vocals;
Henry Cluney: guitar, vocals;
Ali McMordie: bass, vocals;

Brian Faloon: drums.

Produced by Geoff Travis and Mayo Thompson.

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS: JOHNNY WAS from "Inflammable Material" LP (Rough Trade) 1979 (NI / UK)

pencil dub with inks

The version which appears on the Trojan volume, "Savage Pencil Presents: Lion vs. Dragon in Dub", compiled by Edward Poncey.

This would seem to be a mildly truncated version of the Augustus Pablo version relea
sed on his 1979 Rockers (JA) / Greensleeves (UK) compilation, "Original Rockers", but I am by no means certain. The original dub appears to have been recorded sometime between 1972 and 1975, during the first phase of Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi.

They don't come much better than this. Some Pablo fer Anto and Big Ed Dunkel.

Recorded at Channel One , Kingston, Jamaica.
Mixed and engineered by King Tubby; Prince Jammy; Phillip Smart 
at King Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi, Kingston, jamaica.Carlton Barrett: drums;
Aston Barrett & Robbie Shakespeare: bass;
Earl "Chinna" Smith: guitar;
Augustus Pablo: piano, organ;
Dirty Harry: tenor saxophone;
Don D. Junior: trombone;
Bobby Ellis: trumpet;
Augustus Pablo: clavinet, melodica.

AUGUSTUS PABLO: TUBBY'S DUB SONG from "Savage Pencil Presents: Lion Vs. Dragon In Dub" CD (Trojan) 2007 (Jamaica / UK)


"Somebody grassed me up," he said.

Eyeing the horseshoe bar like a felon
on a three day ticket. A pocket full
of blunts, lids, and no sharp objects.

"Aye," said I. " You are a fuckwit."

Nobody at our table slowed down a jot.
Or quickened any.

"Maybe it would be more prudent not
to fire up your pipe with seasonal IOUs."


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

dr. satan's echo chamber

From the same Success album print as featured previously, this is Rupie Edward's "Dr. Satan's Echo Chamber"; appearing more recently on Metro's 2006 release, "Adventures in Dub", and the 2004 Trojan double release, "King Tubby's in a Fine Style".

It originally featured on the 1973 split 7" pressing with Rupie Edwards & The All Stars on the a-side, backed with Star The Marshall's "
Time Bomb" on the reverse; a deejay version of the Minstrells' hit, "Time Is On My Mind".

Hereby dedicated to Nathan Nothin' and Ramone666 for their help and support in digging up some gems in the rundown to X-Mas proper, "
Dr. Satan..." - the secret santa - is a King Tubby at the controls dub of "Yamaha Skank" overlaid on Slim Smith & The Uniques' "My Conversation". A crucial riddim that bites.

Merry X-Mas, brothers and sisters.

RUPIE EDWARDS & THE ALL STARS: DR. SATAN'S ECHO CHAMBER from "Dr. Satan's Echo Chamber b/w Time Bomb" Split 45 (Success Records Ltd.) 1973 (Jamaica)

rude boy

Appearing on the Success label compilation, "
Yamaha Skank", in 1974 - reissued in 1990 on the Trojan CD, "Rupie Edwards & Friends: Let There Be Version" - this is, so far as I can gather, the earliest release by The President, aka Shorty.

Produced by Rupie Edwards.
 wet mix by ib.

SHORTY THE PRESIDENT: YAMAHA SKANK from "Yamaha Skank (V.A.)" LP (Success Records Ltd.) 1974 (Jamaica)

Monday, December 21, 2009

straight time. yule do.

And the weather forecast is thus:

freezing f@cking fog.

White snow, or not. Yellow. Slush. Or snot.

I have no idea why it is the case, but one of those few films I have watched ad infinitum is John Carpenter's "The Fog". It is not particularly a great film. Maybe not even close. I have long been an admirer of his one finger stabbing scores, but I don't think it's simply down to that alone either.

Not really. Not f@ckin' nearly.

"The origins of the Gorbals area date back to the 14th century, when it was a village - sometimes known as Bridgend - which grew up around what was then the River Clyde’s most westerly crossing point: a bridge completed in 1345 by Bishop William Rae of Glasgow, aided by Lady Lochow. "

Yes. At some none too remote point later - reputedly five years after the event - a leper colony was established by our Lady Lochow on the south side of that same bridge, directly in the heart of the Gorbals.

Hospital Street now marks the original site; a regenerated connivance replete with architectural tweeness and sculptural homage. Bow strung figureheads with outflung limbs.

Well. I have seen much worse.

Those scarecrows queuing up for methadone of a morning as I file my children off to school. Claiming the pavement in front of the pharmacy.
I don't like rubbing shoulders. Their saliva drying on the walls of our poky wee lift. Body fluids on the buttons.

Or worse. Cold fog threading a discarded needle.

The elevators are poorly designed. They have to stand the stretcher upright when removing a corpse. The dead and the elderly, both, resemble Im-Ho-Tep on the last leg of a European vacation.

Still. Even then. I'd sooner step on the unburied truth laid out like a festering heel than curtsey round a blackened toe.


photograph by mary ellen mark.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

FSLN 1 > the armagideon times no. 3

Engineered and mixed by Bill Price.
Version remixed by Mikey Dread.

illustration by steve bell.

THE CLASH: THE EQUALIZER from "Sandinista!" 3 x LP (CBS) 1980 (UK)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

after the box, a wobble in space

john wardle, 1981. unemployed and still drowning in pussy.

Disenchanted with the business model for Public Image Ltd., and itching to dub deeper, John Wardle stepped out alone to record a solo 45 followed by an entire LP, "The Legend Lives On: Jah Wobble In Betrayal"; an exercise in the perils of one man's ambition to operate as sole trader.

Promptly accused by John Lydon of 'thieving' corporate material from the "Metal Box" sessions, Wardle was essentially goaded into quitting PIL of his own accord in 1980, leaving Lyd
on and Levene in a partnership which might have floundered but for the creative focus evident on their co-opted sequel, "Flowers of Romance".

If one employs an objective ear, it would be unfair to dismiss Lydon's claims as wholly unwarranted or pernicious. On both the title track and the infectious "Tales From Outer Space" - two of this outing's strongest tracks - everything from the choppy rhythm to the wavering vocal smacks of "Metal Box" era PIL. Having fought his corner in a protracted legal wrangle with Malcolm McLaren over royalties due from his 'leading role' as Sex Pistol, it must have appeared to Lydon as tantamount to staking yet another individual claim for creative ownership.

Equally, it can be argued that it was precisely as a consequence of uninhibited cross-pollination that Wardle functioned so successfully as cornerstone in the PIL wall of sound; his innate ability to harness raw Dub sensibility - abetted by Lydon and Levene as the antidote to all things Rotten - and transplant it still beating into an all but mummified rock 'n' roll carcass.

In hindsight, given Wobble's farther forays in eclectic collabora
tion with all manner of musicians, it seems inevitable that he would eventually have opted to resist containment. With or without the attendant pension and blue chip shares.
Composed, arranged and performed by Jah Wobble.
Produced by Jah Wobble.

JAH WOBBLE: TALES FROM OUTER SPACE from "The Legend Lives On: Jah Wobble In Betrayal" LP (virgin) 1980 (UK)

festive .o.range

Improvisational dub on a slow collision with middle-eastern undercurrents.

.O.rang was founded by Lee Harris and Paul Webb, formerly of the mainst
ream pop group, Talk Talk. Their remit was to play unimpeded in the studio for hours at a stretch, later deconstructing the recorded sections and layering them into a final edit.

"We used to be in a reggae band when we were younger..."

Echo is a subsidiary imprint of Chrysalis, launched in 1994. In 1996 I was invited to submit an 'illustrated' review for the album in Glasgow's Bigwig Magazine.

That is, a review with no words.
No money changed hands either, but at least I managed to hang on to the CD. If I remember correctly - and the jury is out to lunch on this one - I think the commissioning editor telephoned me to request its return after the review appeared in print.

Zin is the name of a town in Afghanistan, and the greater Saharan desert. In folklore, they are those water spirits which reside in the Niger river, West Africa.

Paul Webb: accordion, zin;
Graeme Jones: acoustic guitar.

.O.RANG: BARREN from "Fields And Waves" CD (Echo) 1996 (UK)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

busboy blues

A cautionary tale, and an unusual stab at fusion from producer Bunny Lee which left everyone involved with undressed wounds in the back and sundry infections.

At some point in 1977, Lee invited guitarist, Carl Harvey - born in Jamaica but raised in Toronto, Canada - to collaborate on an ill-considered production involving the reinterpretation of several popular international standards, ranging from Brook Benton's "
Rainy Night in Georgia" to George Benson's "Breezing". Harvey, lead guitarist with overnight funk sensations, The Crack of Dawn - the first black act in Canada to sign to a major recording label - was sufficiently gifted to secure the attention of Toots & The Maytals, but the finished article was cabaret at best.

Indefinitely shelved - presumably as soon as the good shit had all but dried up - both Lee and Harvey (who knows what became of Oswald ?) were dismayed to hear the album had reemerged as a wholly illicit vinyl release in the UK.
According to Zero G Sound and Reggae Reviews:
" Without his or Harvey's knowledge (and thus without compensation),
it came out in England in 1979 on the Cancer label... amazingly misrepresented as a Lee "Scratch" Perry album... 'Guitar Boogie Dub'. "

Whatever the original intention, "
Ecstasy of Mankind" is a lightweight affair; elevator music in a neighborhood built on bungalows and one storey pool halls.

It might have gone down well with tourists on parole at The Sheraton, but it warrants its reissue on the French label, Makasound, only in so far as yachting coke-heads would sooner waltz to Clapton than tangle with Dillinger.

The following, touching bass on the Techniques' hijacking of Curtis Mayfield's "
Queen Majesty", is one of few highlights.

CARL HARVEY: LATE NIGHT RAVER from "Carl Harvey Meets The Dub Masters Bunny Lee & Prince Jammy: ECSTASY OF MANKIND" CD (Makasound) 2005 (Jamaica / France)

in my neighbourhood

illustration by edward poncey. overdubbed by ib.

King Tubby's dub on Horace Andy & the Aggrovators' "A Quiet Place", aka "Dub Place", which originally appeared on Andy's 70's LP release, "Zion Gate". Reissued on Culture Press in 1999.

The dub was first released, for serious Tubby completists, on the 2004 Trojan double CD, "
King Tubby's in a Fine Style". If there is motorcycle noise somewhere under there it is very probably from one belonging to Bunny Lee.

KING TUBBY: A NOISY PLACE from "Savage Pencil Presents: Lion Vs. Dragon In Dub (VA)" CD (Trojan) 2007 (Jamaica / UK)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

graveyard shift

The instrumental version of "Another", which appeared originally on the flip side to their "Memories" 45.

Sessions for "
Metal Box", arguably PIL's finest moment, were reportedly as shambolic as those for its predecessor; and with drummer, Jim Walker electing to do just that, the scene was set for a succession of revolving part-timers.

Jah Wobble allegedly exacerbated tensions by setting one auditioning party on fire. Literally. Not as a result of incendiary improvisation.

An inferno raged through an eighteen storey block of flats late last night here in the Gorbals, killing one tenant and seriously injuring several others. The flames spread from veranda to veranda, eating up the cosmetic refit. The entire block was evacuated in the early hours, one of my son's classmates included. It seems unlikely they will be permitted to return to their homes in time for Christmas.

Chip pans are best avoided in multi storey buildings. Drunks and
pensioners should refrain from deep fat frying. Jah Waddell. Court in session.

Produced by Public Image Ltd.
Engineered by Nick Cook an
d Hugh Padgham.Recorded at The Manor, Oxfordshire; Town House, London; Advision, London.

PUBLIC IMAGE LTD: GRAVEYARD from "Metal Box" 3 x 12" (Virgin) 1979 (UK)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

on the route of the 19 bus

THE CLASH: RUDIE CAN'T FAIL from "London Calling" 2 x LP (CBS) 1979 (UK)

two in the bush

"I'm a miracle man, things happen which I don't plan, I've never planned anything. Whatsoever I do, I want it to be an instant action object, instant reaction subject. Instant input, instant output."

One listen to these Chris Blackwell denounced superlatives is sufficient to inform you where Public Image Ltd. were coming from. The second here - from the sublime 2007 Trojan remixes - features the mighty U Roy voice in tip top form.

Oh, nø. I and I is converted.

LEE 'SCRATCH' PERRY: BIRD IN HAND from "Return Of Super Ape" LP (Upsetter / Lion of Judah) 1976 (Jamaica) 

LEE 'SCRATCH' PERRY: O.K. CORRAL from "Return Of Super Ape" LP (Upsetter / Lion of Judah) 1976 (Jamaica)

holiday in कम्बोज)


"Kambuja or Kamboja is the ancient Sanskrit name of the Kambojas, an early tribe of North India, named after their founder, Kambu Svayambhuva.

Appearing in long player format on 1970's "Reggae Movement", released through producer Harry Johnson's Harry J Records, I am assuming this rocksteady gem was first issued as a 45 on the same label; circa 19
69. I am by no means certain.That it predates the dark days of the Khmer Rouge is beyond doubt, perhaps even coinciding with the US backed military coup of 1970 - led by Prime Minister General Lon Nol and Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak - which ousted the neutral Prince Sihanouk, formerly Cambodia's sovereign king.

Between 1969 and 1973, US aviation forces repeatedly organized bombing raids in Cambodia in a misguided effort to annihilate Viet Cong factions sheltered by the Khmer Rouge. Reportedly, some two million rural Cambodians were uprooted as a result. They sought refuge in Phnom Penh.

Indirectly, this coup led to Sihanouk forging an alliance with the party in Beijing; escalating recruitment into the Khmer Rouge and facilitating Pol Pot's seizing control in 1975.

Cue Jello Biafra.

BLAKE BOY: CAMBODIA from "Reggae Movement" LP (Harry J Records) 1970 (Jamaica)

Monday, December 14, 2009

scratch, the wild upsetter, and the heavy claw of zion

illustration by ib

First up, let's dispense with a crumb of controversy. Beginning in 1976 with "Super Ape", Lee 'Scratch' Perry initiated the most singular revolution not only in Jamaican dub but in terms of the evolution of Black Ark itself, and his role as its centrifugal force; operating from the centre of an off-kilter, self-perpetuating universe. A looming, seemingly hermitic presence, possessed and hollowed out by a chorus of travelling voices.

"I’m an artist, a musician, a magician, a writer, a singer; I’m everything... I have been programmed; many people who born again must come back to learn a lesson...have you heard of ET? I am ET, savvy? Savvy?"

Ancestral demands. Interstellar courtships and couplings.

Perry followed up with "
Return of Super Ape", folded again in collaboration with the Upsetters, and culminated his grand experiment with the release of "Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread" in 1977. All issued originally on his own Upsetter label, in upsettingly tiny print runs.


"The upsetting was so upsetting that it even upset I."

Chris Blackwell's Island creation fittingly picked up on "Super ape" after both Junior Murvin and Max Romeo scored very nicely, thank you, back home in the UK - gambling on Perry's commercial and cult status - but declined to follow through after dismal sales and the perceived "Metal Machine Music" chaos of those advance reels forwarded to its sequel. Lee Perry may or may not have been left dumbfounded. Undeterred, his self-financed Lion of Judah stepped into the void as sole pressing agent, but overseas demand was small if fanatical.

"I, Pipecock Jackson, Jack Lightning, Jesse The Hammer, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Daniel Dandelion the Lion, Jah Rastafari the crumbler, the ghost of King Arthur, put a curse on BBC radio and television, and BBC government, that they can never undo until they start playing Mr. Perry records morning, noon, and night, and around the clock - tick tock."

To its credit, Island subsequently reissued "Return Of..." and "Roast Fish" on CD, but by that time the original masters had been mysteriously mislaid if not lost altogether, and the subsequent 'product' suffered greatly as a result.In 2007, Trojan astounded one and all with the revelation they had finally unearthed the original masters and repackaged the 'new' mixes on a two CD issue compiling all three albums plus previously unreleased material. The result, allegedly, is much truer to the spirit of Perry's original vision - complete with jarring bass and unadulterated apocalyptic booming - but I have to pause here and confess I've yet to hear it; let alone formulate an informed opinion.

The following 'extended edits' - the closing dubs to Perry's Ape-Ology experiment - are neither to be found on the original vinyl release or the Trojan remaster, but hail instead from the 1997 Island retrospective, "
Arkology"; something of a holy grail in its own right for aficionados of unhinged genius.

"When I left school there was nothing to do except field work. Hard, hard labour. I didn't fancy that. So I started playing dominoes. Through dominoes I learned to read the minds of others. This has proved eternally useful to me”

With respect to Nolan Micron, from Castles in Space.

LEE 'SCRATCH' PERRY: ROAST FISH & CORNBREAD from "Arkology" 3 x CD (Island) 1997 (Jamaica / UK)
LEE 'SCRATCH' PERRY & THE UPSETTERS: CORN FISH DUB from "Arkology" 3 x CD (Island) 1997 (Jamaica / UK)

something borrowed, something new

l greetings from SibLINGSHOT

Considering Glasgow's climate is generally temperate, it was cold; -2℃ this morning when I stepped out to purchase some essential supplies.

My decision to decline a carrier bag for the 2 litre carton of milk straight out the refrigerator was ill judged at best. By the time I fidgeted the key back in the door my teeth were chattering. We have been shrouded in freezing fog these past few days, but it was clear if still pitch black out there. Dark enough for me to stumble on the shrivelled refuse adhering to the pavement.

If corn on the cob possessed extremities it might have twitched its last like Scott or Amundsen.

Sundry frozen artifacts lay scattered around it in a trail of confusion. Jettisoned in the final throes of hypothermia.

Well. Remixed at Dynamic Sounds in Kingston - with the Revolutionaries - by Karl Pitterson for the 1978 Virgin LP release, the original 45 was produced by Errol Thompson for Joe Gibbs Music and was a huge dance hall hit. Anton Ellis' 1967 rocksteady smash, "
I'm still in Love", and Trinity's "Three Piece Suit" provided the basis for the backing rhythm, re-recorded here in 1977 with additional lyrics by teenagers Forest and Reid and, allegedly, Thompson himself.

Thirty-two years older, this one still radiates good tidings and rude health.

from "Uptown Top Ranking b/w Calico Suit" 45 (Joe Gibbs) 1977 (Jamaica)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

kingston 11 and the 12 days of christmas

dubbing the 12 apostles

So. The tree stands upright. Aloft and not a bit aloof.

If we water it any there will be a flash and rolling thunder. The fibre optics are twinkling nicely, dashboard flavour.

To celebrate, I and I bring you yet more from
the dub maestro's Waterhouse studio, Dromilly Avenue, Kingston 11. With a little help from . Recorded between 1975 and 1979, and mark
ing phase II of his Home Town Hi-Fi evolution; rebuilt from 'scratch' - from the roots up - after the police closed it down, G-Man style. RAT-A-TA-TAT; RUB-A-DUB-DUB. 

The Blood & Fire retrospective on which these appear, issued in '94, credits the production as follows: 

Engineered by King Tubby.
Prince Jammy; Phillip Smart; and Scientist.
Produced by Bunny Lee.
Instrumentation by the Aggrovators.

KING TUBBY: SATTA DREAD DUB from "Dub Gone Crazy: The Evolution of Dub at King Tubby's (1975 - 1979)" CD (Blood & Fire) 1994 (Jamaica)
KING TUBBY: JAH LOVE ROCKERS DUB from "Dub Gone Crazy: The Evolution of Dub at King Tubby's (1975 - 1979)" CD (Blood & Fire) 1994 (Jamaica)

the mighty two ride alone with the voice of thunder

Thanks to Ramone666 for further inciting the riot.

The Prince's "Heavy Manners" appeared as a 45 in 1976 on the Heavy Duty label, in addition to its release on the Joe Gibbs issued classic, "Under Heavy Manners".

Errol Thompson, it might be argued, was a mixing innovator on a par with King Tubby; long before Home Town Hi-Fi was in business, Thompson was justly celebrated for his groundbreakin
g work out of Randy's Studio 17. Much of the Kingston Sound was recorded, mixed and overdubbed at Randy's before making its way onto vinyl.

Joel Arthur Gibson originally ran an electrical repair outlet in downtown Kingston.

While television repairs and sales provided a lucrative income, Gibbs was quick to tap into the burgeoning market for homegrown music. By 1967 he graduated from simply selling records in store to producing local talent directly on the premises. Establishing a fairly crude two-track recording facility in the back of his shop, Gibbs recruited Le
e Perry into providing creative and technical support. Just one year later, he was sufficiently encouraged by the result to finance and launch the Amalgamated label in association with Bunny Lee. A commercial showcase for the rocksteady sound then much in demand.
Scoring a string top ten hits as far afield as the UK, Gibbs consolidated his position by launching three more labels. In terms of creating a monopoly, it was something akin to one entrepreneur owning majority shares in Parlophone; Decca; and PYE. A one man hit machine.

By 1972 Joe Gibbs opened a new studio in Retirement Crescent, Kingston 5, in partnership with Erol Thompson. The one man hit maker became the "The Mighty Two", between them responsible for producing over one hundred Jamaican No. 1 bestsellers. Backed by Kingston 5 session players, the Professionals - including original members of the Upsetters and the Aggrovators - the artists appearing on Joe Gibb
s Records between 1972 and 1977 included Denis Brown; Big Youth; Black Uhuru; Junior Byles; Gregory Isaacs; and Culture. And many of the names already featured in this series.

Joe Gibbs suffered a fatal cardiac arrest February 21st, 2008.

Recorded at Joe Gibbs Recording Studio
24 Retirement Crescent, Kingston 5: 
"The Golden Sound of the West Indies"Re-mixed and engineered by Errol Thompson.
Manufactured and Distributed By
20 North Parade, Kingston, Jamaica. 

original Joe Gibbs Studio mastertape.

PRINCE FAR I: HEAVY MANNERS from "Under Heavy Manners" LP (Joe Gibbs) 1976 (Jamaica)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

message for the common wealth

Produced for Micron Music by Lloydie Slim.
Recorded at Randy's Studio and King Tubby's Studio, Kingston.
Mastered by Kevin Metcalfe.

"Special thanks to Lee Perry, Bunny Lee and Roger Campbell
who helped to make it happen."

Distributed by Carib Gems Ltd., 154 Rucklidge Avenue, London N.W.10.

PRINCE FAR I: PSALM 1 from "Psalms For Far I" LP (Carib Gems) 1975 (Jamaica / UK)

Friday, December 11, 2009

a knife; a spoon; a fork...

yer arsenal.

Allegedly the twenty year old Lester Bullocks was toasting under the none too striking name of Dennis Alcapone Jr. in D.A.'s old haunt, when Lee Perry stepped up under the mike and whispered in his ear.

"You is not Alcapone, dread. You is Dillinger."

A frequent visitor to both Perry's Black Ark and King Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi in Waterhouse, it was Scratch who got the jump; producing Dillinger - on "Dub Organiser" - as early as 1973. The big name producers Bullocks recorded for between then and the release of "CB 200" three years later reads like a mafia hit list: Augustus Pablo; Niney Holeness; Clement Dodd.

It was "CB 200" - coined after his prized Honda - which sealed his reputation. As sweetly as nine coats of varnish over a starburst flame job.

Produced at Channel One by Jo-Jo Hookim with the Mighty Diamonds providing backing, "Cocaine In My Brain" was seized upon quicker than a Customs international powder bust; shipping worldwide and firing up Bullocks' Scratchy nom de plume in halogen lights.

Courted by every young white punk in the glare of Big Youth's triumphant 1977 Rainbow bash, amphetamine sulphate was the ubiquitous poor boy's substitute.

If You are still conscious, Anto, this one's for you.

Produced by Jo-Jo Hookim.
 Engineered by Ernest Hoo Kim and Ossie Hibbert.

DILLINGER: COCAINE IN MY BRAIN from "CB 200" LP (Island) 1976 (Jamaica)

clash like lightnin', crash like t'under

Predating the Gussie Clarke produced debut for Trojan, "Screaming Target", this infectious slice of roots (aka "S.90 Skank") was originally released as a 45 on the Mafia, Down Town imprint; produced by Keith Hudson, a dentist by profession and an impresario by choice.

The single proved so popular in Jamaican dance halls that it promptly went gold. As gold as the crowns on Big Youth's teeth.

Kicking in with a motorcycle engine rumble which thrills and vibrates like a horse driven sex aid, Big Youth is soon toasting like Sinatra on a sinsemilla jag.

Manley Augustus Buchanan proved something of a disappointment to his evangelist mother and policeman dad, presumably, by dropping out of school at age fourteen to run errands at the car pools in Kingston's Sheraton and Skyline hotels. Soon he graduated to chasing fares as a jobbing cab driver, and began collecting a respectable wage as an apprentice mechanic. His real passion - like any Kingston youth - was music, toasting and girls. He was good enough that he progressed quickly through the ranks to become the top draw for the Lord Tippertone Hi-Fi Sound System.

Big Youth was the nickname given him while busking as a mechanic.

On the desks he was Jah Youth, young god of the Kingston sound, and not wholly without a social conscience. 1973's "
Screaming Target" helped cement the political tone which in part replaced the escapist hedonism of rocksteady and ska in the dance halls.

A confrontational rumbling the authorities in Kingston would find hard to contain. And his father harder to forgive, maybe.

BIG YOUTH: ACE 90 SKANK from "Ace 90 Skank" 45 (Mafia, Down Town) 1972 (Jamaica)

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Recorded and mixed at the Upsetter's own ramshackle Black Ark Studio with King Tubby on the sliders, "Blackboard Jungle" showcases dub at its rawest; the fruit of the trinity of Perry, Ruddick and those house upstarts themselves. 

Released only in Jamaica on Perry's Upsetter label - a print run of just 300 copies - the album was reissued originally on vinyl through Clocktower in the US, and on vinyl and CD through Aurulux in 2004.

Written by Bucky Skank.Produced by Lee Perry.
Engineered by Lee Per
ry and Prince Tubby.
 The Upsetters:
drums: Tin Legs, Carlton Barrett, Anthony Benbow Creary, Horsemouth Wallace;
Bass : Lloyd Parks, Bagga Walker, Family Man;
guitar: Alva Reggie Lewis, Tony Chin, Sangie Davis, Barrington Daley;
piano : Gladdy Anderson, Tommy McCook;
organ: Glen Adams, Winston Wright, Touter Harvey;
trombone: Ron Wilson;trumpet: Bobby Ellis;
Percussion: Sticky,Lee Perry, Skully; melodica: Augustus Pablo.

UPSETTERS 14 DUB: BLACK PANTA from "Blackboard Jungle" LP (Upsetter) 1973 (Jamaica)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

drop dub massacre

Two rare King Tubby mixes - date of recording unknown - which appear on the 1999 Culture Press CD release, "The Fatman Tapes", reissued as "Crucial Dub" the following year on the UK imprint, Delta Music.  

Dub be thankul for what you got.

Produced by Ken 'Fatman' Gordon.
Mixed by King Tubby.

Earl "Chinna" smith: guitar;
Gladstone Anderson, Winston Wright: keyboards;
Robbie Shakespeare: bass;
Sly Dunbar: drums.

KING TUBBY: SOUNDBOY MASSACRE from "The Fatman Tapes" CD (Culture Press) 1999 (Jamaica / UK)
KING TUBBY: DROP DUB from "The Fatman Tapes" CD (Culture Press) 1999 (Jamaica / UK)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

zen and the art of public policing

illustration by ib.

There is a theatre company near here on the south side. For many years it was Glasgow's Transport Museum before they moved it to the West End. Willem Dafoe did some New York Studio workshops there sometime in the early 90s, I seem to recall. I did not attend. But it struck me as an improvement on Victor and Barry.

Anyway. Volunteers at the Tramway have worked over the years to build a kind of Zen Garden at the back. It is a nice space and the kids have always enjoyed it. Long before the indoor smoking ban was put in place, it was our habit to sit out with a glass of wine or two and let them run about.

It would be remiss of me not to point out that it is a theatre company. There have always been plenty of twee characters about. 

It has never bothered me any. 

The garden has a nice feel to it and more or less adopts the spirit of a public park. Once in a while you might see a gardener out there running a rake over the gravel or picking up the odd piece of debris.

It has always been my habit to carefully retrieve my dog-ends and dispose of them in a big metal dustin before I leave. This I do in any park, but the act of observing the man with the rake is admonition enough. He might not consciously make intricate swirling patterns in the gravel, but he attends to it very dutifully.

So. A couple of months back I stopped in there on my own after visiting the
dentist several hundred yards along the road. It was late afternoon and the bar was wholly empty except for a young asian girl in her twenties. She ordered a tall glass of wine and stepped out to a table to read her book.

"Can you smoke out here ?" she asked me.

"Of course, " I said, and wandered off to sit on the long wooden bench running alongside the gravel trench. It was a pleasant afternoon. I nursed my own glass. Presently, I took out a cigarette and lit it.

I was about an inch in when a second young woman appeared - this one in dungarees - and hopped onto the concrete ledge just behind me. She was about eighteen or so. Going on forty. She sat there cross-legged with her face turned a little theatrically toward the sun. She was very pale and had a little skipless hat perched on her head. Her face was peppered with freckles.

She wrinkled her nose.

"You can't smoke in the garden," she said.

I looked at her. "Of course you can," I said. "We are outdoors."

"Yes," she allowed. "But this is a zen garden. Many people come out here to contemplate. Besides, it's not just disrespectful to Buddhists. There are all sorts of people who come here. People of diverse ethnicity and religion."

She enuciated each word as if passing sentence. Haltingly, and just a little condescending in tone. As she said it, she glanced pointedly at the young Asian woman scrabbling to extinguish her
own cigarette out of sight beneath the table.

"What do you mean ?" I said. "I am a Buddhist. A Glasgow Buddhist. Virtually every Buddhist I know smokes."

"No they don't," she corrected me. "Buddhists don't smoke."

"Of course they fucking do," I retorted. "Muslims; Hindus; Sikhs and Christians. We are not in fucking church."

I was getting wound up in spite of myself.

"Listen," I said. "I just spent two pounds fucking fifty on this glass of house white. It tastes like piss. I am going to finish my damn cigarette. I've been coming here for years and you are the first person who has had any issue with my smoking."

The asian girl seemed aghast. The bitch in the dungarees was delighted.

"You're upsetting the other patrons," she told me. "If you continue like this you will have to leave."

I did, but not before finishing my cigarette. I did not enjoy it any. I was so incensed I left the butt curled up on the raised gravel where my foot crushed out its last gasp.

"You're not a Buddhist," she snapped at my back.

I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't have ended it by turning the other cheek. Maybe the whole situation went tits up as a result of my engaging with her in the first instance.

That's the thing with religion. When it catches on, it starts a fire. More often by accident than grand design.

This post originally appeared as a comment by way of reply to friend and sibling, NØ, who much to my delight confesses to having used the wafer thin pages of numerous Gideons Bibles to roll a joint or two. Spiritual economy and recycling at its most considered.

I ROY: BUCK & THE PREACHER from "Hell And Sorrow" LP (Trojan) 1973 (Jamaica / UK)