Monday, December 7, 2009

none too slim slow slider

Originally released on the 1975 Total Sounds Jamaican LP imprint - and again on Grounation in the UK in that same year - "Roots of Dub" lays down the 'law' at Kingston 11, Waterhouse, mixed straight up and round the corner in the delapitated bungalow which served as King Tubby's infamous studio; the 4-Track hub of heavily tampered with drum and bass, "Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi", frequented by everybody from Bunny Lee and Lee Perry to Glen Brown and Augustus Pablo.

An electronics prodigy, Osbourne Ruddick - King Tubby - built his first, modest, amplifier (and radio transmsitter) in 1962 at the age of twenty-one; the pioneer to the sound system officially first put into action commercially in 1970, producing back to back 45 versions featuring Tubby's trademark echo, reverb and phase effects. A crowning achievement on the slider.

"Roots of Dub", produced by Bunny Lee, was only Tubby's second 'official' release, backed once again by house regulars, the Aggrovators. His debut, "Dub From the Roots", hit the streets a year after Lee
Perry's 1973 co-produced dub classic "Blackboard Jungle" appeared on Perry's own Upsetter label. Tubby was encouraged to cement his growing reputation as master mixman with a follow-up issued under his own name, stepping out from behind the desk for a well received sequel and striking a regal pose.

The mid seventies finally saw him catapulted centre stage. Ragamuffin nobility, if not by Elizabeth's appointment.

His original Home Town Hi-Fi incredibly came under direct attack from the police at a Dance Hall in 1975 when he was investigated for performing publicly without a permit. Lacking sufficient funds merely to grease a few palms, the official response was to immediately put down the offending animal - his sound system - in a hail of government issued bullets. A riot very nearly ensued.

In similar circumstances to those shrouding Prince Far I, King Tubby himself was gunned down outside his home in 1989 by an alleged prowler. The culprit was never apprehended. It pays to travel incognito. Sovereign ghettoes or otherwise.

Produced by Bunny Lee. Mixed by King Tubby.

The Aggrovators:
Bass: Robbie and Fully; Drums: Santa, Carlton Barrett, Brother Benbow;
Lead Guitar: Chinna; Rhythm Guitar: Tony Chin, Family Man, Brother Bogga;
Piano: Touter Organ: Ossie Bongo, Brother Ian.

KING TUBBY: ROOTS OF DUB from "King Tubby: The Dub Master Presents The Roots Of Dub" LP (Total Sounds) 1975 (Jamaica)


Denier said...

Love the dub series, keep 'em coming. Wish I had a spliff to toast up right about now, though. Thought Clash's Kick it Over might be their best reggae moment, although Sandinista's One More Dub is close.

ib said...

Glad you are enjoying these, Warden. I had almost forgotten about "One More Dub". Thanks for the reminder. "Sandanista!", I think, may well be their finest hour as LPs go. After the first, at least.

Denier said...

My brother got me Sandinista! for Xmas when it came out. The year before my girlfriend at the time had a copy of London Calling weeks before it came out. At first listen, I HATED that album, because it wasn't "punky" enough. Of course, I grew to appreciate it. In fact, I was at the New York show when Simonon smashed his guitar. But I think you're right about Sandinista being their finest moment in that it's such a sprawling record that you can dive into at any point.

ib said...

Yes. It was the trawl through all six sides which made it so rewarding. I don't buy into the argument that lopping it down to a double album - or even one LP as some have suggested - would have been a plus.

The one thing it shares with the first LP, is that it takes many repeated plays before all the pieces lock into place. Not that their debut was anywhere near the jigsaw that is "Sandinsta!" On the contrary. I just remember it took several plays all the way through for some of the tracks to live up to the monumental appeal of their cover of Junior Murvin, or even the immediacy of "Janie Jones" and "White Riot".

"London Calling" was a pretty decent effort too, but not even "Guns of Brixton" comes close to the flip side of the 45.

Of all their releases, the one I probably warmed to the least was "Give 'Em Enough Rope". Outside of a couple of great songs, overall it came across like too much of a cartoon. Or a Ladybird picture book with nothing of substance.

Anonymous said...

Disagree slightly on Give em Enough Rope. Sonically, the music just soars and the texture is so clean. The fadeout of Safe European Home and then its return is just breathtaking. It is slightly cartoonish, though, thanks to the more heavy metal-ish sound the producer was aiming for. The first album, especially the UK version, has that amazing whooshing, blurring quality that is thrilling. Then again, I kind of liked Cut the Crap, whereas most Clashinistas detest that record. Combat Rock was awful except for some of the first side.


ib said...

Well. I kind of like "Cut the Crap" too, even though its not strictly a Clash record.

I'll agree with you on the clean production on "Give 'Em Enough Rope". Far too clean I would suggest. I like the "Clash City rockers" 45, but I detest "Tommy Gun". And "English Civil War". As close to watery shit as the Clash ever came.

In fact, the only tunes on that LP I can really stomach are "Stay Free"; "All The Young Punks" - after a forgiving Mott the Hoople fashion - and "Drug Stabbing Time". The rest is just so much discardable hemp.

As regards the first album, you are spot on. Visceral and feverish.

Denier said...

Drug Stabbing Time is unrelenting, true, but I'm surprised you don't like Cheapstakes as well. The English Civil War 45 B-side is hands down my favorite single Clash track: Pressure Drop. That song along with 1-2 Crush on You really showed that Punk was capable of much more than nihilism. Not that there's anything wrong with a little nihilism!

ib said...

Actually. I'd forgotten about "Cheapskates". Not bad. "Pressure Drop" is pure class, but doesn't count really, given it wasn't on the LP.

I'm splitting hairs, admittedly, but I'd pass on "1-2 Crush On You".

Denier said...

Have you heard Mick Jones (and Tony James) latest band Carbon / Silicon yet? I think they're pretty fucking good, and if you go to their Website, you can download their entire new album for free, which I did but I haven't gotten around to listening to it yet. But the first few singles I heard last year -- Total Fucking Madness, What the Fuck, The System, etc. -- were brilliant. Check it here: