Island Presents: Dub - 38 Hard And Heavy Dub Cuts

Black Wa-Da-Da - Burning Spear
Zion - The Righteous Foundation
Grumblin' Dub - Junior Murvin
Premature Dub - Toots & The Maytals
Satta Massa Gana Dub - Third World
Ku Klux Klan Dub - Steel Pulse
The Black Spy - Jacob Miller
Dub Funny Sometime - The Wailing Souls
South Africa Dub - Tyrone Taylor
Take Five Version - Rico Rodriquez
Cheat Heart Dub - Vivian Weathers
Dub Charge - Aswad
The People's Choice - Judy Mowatt
Bazooka Blast - Junior Delgado
Whip That Tarantula - Ijahman
Indiana Jones - The Paragons
The Monkey Is A Spy - Black Uhuru
Night Nurse Version - Gregory Isaacs
World A Music Dub - Ini Kamoze
Eastern Promise (Dub) - Augustus Pablo
One Step Dub - Max Romeo
True Love Is Hard To Find Dub - Toots & The Maytals
Corn Fish Dub - The Upsetters
Ballistic Dub - Leroy Smart
Africa Dub - Rico Rodriquez
Colliebud Cure It - The Inner Circle
Prodigal Son Dub - Steel Pulse
Toothache - The Revolutionaries
Civilised Reggae Dub - Burning Spear
The Dub Of Gold - The Viceroys
Well Of Souls - The Wailing Souls
Who's In The Tomb - Black Uhuru
The Version Is High - The Paragons
A Living Dub - King Sounds & The Israelites
Dub Fire - Aswad
You'll Never Find Dub - Tony Tuff
Cool Down The Dub - Gregory Isaacs
Beverly Hills Master Dub - Foundation

Today, in the early 21st century, Dub mixes are obligatory on many club-orientated 12" singles, whether the style be Garage, Techno, Dubstep or Reggae, but back in the early '70s, the flip-side of most Jamaican 45s featured just a plain 'version'. A 'version' was no more than the rhythm track of the top-side, stripped of any vocal embellishment, with its development supposedly the result of a growing demand from deejays wanting to chat over the track at a dance.

Prior to this, Reggae singles comprised either two completely different songs or featured an instrumental cut of the top-side on the B-side. The idea to remix the track or remove the vocal from a recording originated when Treasure Isle sound engineer Byron Smith inadvertently left off the vocal track when cutting an acetate (or 'dubplate') for Rudolph 'Ruddy' Redwood's  sound system. When the resultant disc received a public airing it created a considerable stir with the dancing crowd and soon many records were produced with overdubbed instruments or just the straightforward rhythm track on the flip.

This began to change in the early seventies when Osbourne 'King Tubby' Ruddock started mixing basic tracks into new soundscapes. His talents were soon recognised by leading producer, Edward 'Bunny' Lee, who by 1973 was regularly asking him to cut special remixes of his latest hot new recordings. No more would an uninspired rhythm track adorn the flipside of a 45 but rather a sizzling, shimmering mix created by the man who was soon widely hailed as Jamaica's Dubmaster.

Bunny Lee was not alone in his admiration for Tubby's talents, with the Upsetting Lee 'Scratch' Perry also making use of his genius early on in the 1970s. Perry, of course was one of the innovators of sound himself with sparse chugging instrumentals such as 'Clint Eastwood' from 1969 predating the development of Dub by a few years.

Perry and Tubby collaborated in 1973 for the LP many claim to be the very first long player in the style, 'Blackboard Jungle Dub', although two other collections have also been cited for the honour, namely Herman Chin-Loy's 'Aquarius Dub', mixed by the producer himself, and Clive Chin's 'Java Java Java Java', mixed by Errol Thompson.

A few years on, Perry would take to the board himself at his famed Black Ark studio, with his distinctive swirling multi-tracked music running behind some of the most outstanding recordings to ever come from Jamaica. Notable among these is the late Junior Murvin's cry of desperation at the blood-soaked political warfare taking place around him, 'Police And Thieves', a track that Perry reconstructed as 'Grumblin Dub' for the flipside of the 45. Another of the producer's masterpieces, 'One Step Dub' utilises Max Romeo's mesmerising 'One Step Forward', one of the singer's most enduring works that featured on the revered 'War In A Babylon' LP - on of Island's most celebrated Reggae collections.

As the seventies wore on, a slew of fine albums started to emerge as Dub took hold of the Reggae fraternity. A number of King Tubby apprentices, notably Overton Brown aka Scientist and Lloyd 'Prince Jammy' James, began to make their mark along with other talented mixers whose number included Errol 'ET' Thompson, Sylvan Morris and Horace Swaby aka Augustus Pablo. Pablo's 1975 production, 'King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown' (featured on the accompanying 'Trojan Presents Dub') is today rightly regarded as one of the greatest Dub cuts of all time, its popularity far exceeding that of Jacob Miller's original vocal cut, 'Baby I Love You So'. Pablo was still making great music, Dub and otherwise, well into the eighties, as illustrated by 'Eastern Promise Dub', which first saw issue as a 12" in the UK in 1986 on Island's Mango label.

By this time, Island, their finger ever on the musical pulse, had long sine championed Dub, with the style featuring prominently on 45s, 12" singles and albums since the mid-seventies. Early examples of the latter format include 'Garvey's Ghost' a Dub version of Burning Spear's mighty 'Marcus Garvey' LP, mixed not in sunny Jamaica but chilly London.

Released in the Spring of 1976, the album took Dub from Jamaica's tiny backstreet shops and brought it to the attention of mainstream HMV buyers and for that reason alone its role in the internationalisation of the genre should not be overlooked. Much as Bob Marley & The Wailers 'Catch A Fire' had brought Reggae into focus among the Rock crowd, 'Garvey's Ghost' provided the gateway to Dub for the flashy young Punk crowd, eager to embrace the new rebellious sounding music from Jamaica.

While the isle of springs was the birthplace of Dub, British Reggae acts were far from slow in experimenting with the style. Among the most successful of these were London-based Aswad, whose 'Dub Charge', a deconstruction their instrumental 'Warrior Charge', was among the most striking UK-produced recordings in the genre. Birmingham's finest, Steel Pulse also proved adept at creating excellent Dub works, as reflected in fine mixes of two of their best-known singles, 'Ku Klux Klan' and 'Prodigal Son'.

During the latter part of the seventies, the 12" single had become established as a regular vehicle for genre, with the long running time allowing for a period of vocal domination prior to the introduction of a Dub section, with the mix sometimes further embellished by the toasting of a deejay. By the onset of the 1980s, every Reggae album seemed to have a Dub counterpart on offer, with some labels even packaging the vocal and Dub versions together on two-album sets.

The popularity of the genre finally started to wane as the Roots era gave way to the more hedonistic Dancehall stylings of the early 1980s. there were of course still some fine Dub tracks being produced, performed by both old stalwarts and newer bands such as the Roots Radics with the 12" still ruling supreme. The little remembered Roots vocal trio, Foundation had three albums and a few singles released by Island Records, with one of their best tracks, 'Beverley Hills' released in 1990 alongside the excellent 'Beverley Hills Master Dub' on a 12" single.

Scientist enjoyed perhaps the most success during this period as he carried on mixing some outstanding collections long after most of his peers had succumbed to the diminishing interest shown by the Reggae crowd.

From 1985, Reggae embraced the digital age, as music makers increasingly dispensed with musicians, preferring instead the low cost, easy to use Casio keyboard. The development led to the creation of some interesting new Dub tracks; metallic, relentless and harsh they proved the complete antithesis to the warm, round, deep Dub created from rhythms played by real musicians.

The original Dub master, King Tubby was at the forefront of the new technologically driven sound and was in the process of making plans to construct a new studio equipped with the latest equipment when he was horrifically murdered outside his own house in 1989. If the tragedy had not occurred he would have undoubtedly have seriously challenged the dominance of Jamaica's leading producers, whose number included his old protégé, Jammy.

By the 1990s, Dub was established around the globe with the UK being home to many of its leading protagonists. Jah Shaka, the Disciples and Alpha & Omega were among those who had began producing a home grown electronic-based version of the style. Shaka, a sound system owner and its principal operator-cum-producer, championed this British Dub on his set, attracting a new younger mixed race crowd, that contrasted with his Roots sessions of the 1970s when his audience's mainly comprised those of West Indian origin.

Soon electronic Dub had spread from the capital to nightclubs throughout the country. Taking influences from other London club favourites such as Drum & Bass and Jungle, a new style of semi-Dub club music eventually emerged that had an even more automated, electronic form. Fearsome and featureless, 'Dubstep' was the techno-trance music of the new age.

As to what will come next is anyone's guess. Whatever its fate, the roots of Dub and its myriad variants can be traced to a single point in history when a lone man in a room of primitive equipment decided to take out a few vocals to highlight the drum and bass. And thank goodness he did, for otherwise the world would have been denied some of the finest music ever created, as illustrated by the recordings that grace this fine collection.

Michael de Koningh
All material © Trojan Records