Dubbing In The Front Yard & Conflict Dub

Dubbing in the Front Yard
Judgment Dub
The Gates of Dub
Babylon Dub
Somewhere (Version)
Carry on Dubwise
Crab in a Barrel Dub
Hold Them In Dub
Lowdown Dub
Overdue Dub
Enter Into Dub Part1b
Come To Me In Dub Part 1

Jumping Dub
Skilful Dub
Ethiopian Dub
Still In Love Dub
A Rootsy Dub
I Can't Go On Without Dub
A Steppin Dub
A Rocking Dub
A Mighty Dub
The Best Dub
Be Still In Dub

Recorded music has been shaped by some enduring partnerships between producer and engineer, such as Teo Macero and Fred Plautt for Miles Davis, Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd for Atlantic Records, and George Martin and Geoff Emerick for the Beatles. But possibly none were as prolific as the collaboration between Bunny 'Striker' Lee and Prince Jammy at king Tubby's Studio between 1976 and 1982.

Jammy: "It must have been hundreds of albums that we made together, literally hundreds. I can't give you a figure for dub albums, but it was really a lot, because Bunny always make a version of every song. And Bunny Lee works quick, so you'd be there mixing and you don't even know that you're making an album until the album appears, you know?"

Bunny: "Me and Jammy used to roam the streets together. We work and we socialise and we move good together for years. And in the studio we make plenty records and just a bleach together til morning and make a thing."

Jammy: "We would normally work at night. Bunny called it bleaching cos we never see daylight, so we bleach all through the night and just work. Tubby's used to work his shift in the daytime, and I used to be there doing electronics work. Well when it comes on like after 6 o'clock Bunny Lee's shift come in, so I had to do that shift often until the next morning. Bunny would store a load of tapes at King Tubby's studio, and he used to find them very easy. There's one thing I can tell you about Striker, he knows every song and every tape. So it's no problem for him to say 'go to that one there King, take that one Jammys' and we just mix it right away. He can't make a mistake there, he knows his thing."

Lloyd James, nicknamed Jammy (or Jammys), had grown up in the Waterhouse area of Kingston as a near neighbour of King Tubby, who Bunny would later encourage to build his own studio.

Jammy: "When I was a youth me and Tubbys used to live at the same road. Dromilly Avenue. I had an interest in electronics, and I used to go find parts in the rubbish to try and use. And then Tubbys became like my teacher, so I learn electronics with him before him have him studio, when it just a shop for repairs. Bunny Lee was a man me used to hear about as a producer, and then me say alright, through me involved in the second sound system business me waan meet Bunny Lee, so me go a Orange Street and just link up with him, and from then on me and him is friend."

Bunny: "Jammy was a man build sound system for years, and had a top of the line sound named Jammy's Hometown Hifi. But then him move to Canada and start do some little studio thing there, and it never work out really. But he sent some mic back to Tubbys, and that help us get Tubbys established as a studio. Then me and Robbie Shakespeare went to Canada and told him to leave that foolishness and come back to Jamaica, and make things start happen."

Jammy: "I moved to Canada in 1970. While I was there Tubbys set up him studio, and so I sent back two Neumann microphones to him. When Bunny come to visit me with Robbie Shakespeare, he was the one who inspired me to come back to Jamaica. Because we'd been friends for so long and you miss your friends you know, so he wanted me to move back and take over the whole thing at Tubby's, and that's how I came back in 1976."

Once back in Jamaica, Jammy became the main engineer at King Tubby's Studio, and Bunny soon crowned him Prince Jammy. Today he is known as King Jammy, one of Jamaica's leading producers.

Jammy: "Bunny was like the motivator, and so he named me Prince Jammys and later King Jammys. He named everyone - Scientist, Professor, Bobby Digital - it was Bunny that named all of us. And he did have some of the greatest riddims then, so it comes in very vibrant for the dub sector because dub music at the time was voice and version, so that was Striker's speciality, him used to have him voice and him version. it was very important for the music. And Striker always used to encourage the experiments, and that's where me get the break fe really experiment with new sounds and all them thing there."

Bunny: "Well all the engineers at Tubby's studio have their own special character, but Jammys improved quickly and then he have his own feel like when him echo and reverb. Him have the vibes and him could a work real fast, so we just in there sometimes seven nights a week making music together."

Jammy: "Bunny was definitely quite an unusual character, but he usual to me being his close friend. Bunny is not like some other producers. Him always associate more with the artists because of his nature - he is a friendly person, so he always live good amongst his people. Tubby's was not the first studio ever in the ghetto, but them times most artists in Waterhouse would haffi go to big studio to record. So when Tubby's studio get established it meant all the artist from Waterhouse could come straight in there. It make a big difference, cos we recording real ghetto music. So Bunny inspired a lot of people in this business, and then he give them riddims to turn producer themselves. I was privileged to use any riddim that Bunny Lee have, he didn't feel any way about that. Striker influence me in the producing business big time, and him really made me who me is today as a producer."

But becoming a successful producer meant more than just making music. Bunny was also an energetic businessman, constantly seeking international outlets for the extraordinary volume of music that he and Jammy were making together.

Jammy: "Time was always of the essence with Striker, cos him always a go away travelling. Like the business take him to England, so we have to just work fast in time fe catch him flight to England. Up to the night before him fly Bunny would be in the studio recording. Then hear what happen - Striker orchestrate for me to go a England in 1977, which really start me in the business cos that's when I got some equipment to build my own studio. We used to cut a lot of dub music for Fatman sound, but me never met Fatman yet. So Striker say 'King, me a go ask Fatman fe send a ticket for you, so you can come a England and meet Fatman and do a thing'. So boom that gwan, and Fatman send the ticket and me just produce some tune and carry them up with me. Me start produce Black Uhuru, but the other producers around say me should forget them and then nah sound good. It was Striker that tell me Black Uhuru was different and unique. Him encourage me to make an album with them and carry it go a England, and that album still selling today. The record business in Jamaica was complicated them times. If you give an album to the distributors in Jamaica they would export it into England and so the companies in England wouldn't touch it cos it already available. So Striker show me to do the deals for an album in England first, and then give it to the company in Jamaica after."

Bunny: "Yes, the labels in England always want to get next album, they never want something already released in Jamaica. So you always give them a fresh album, and then you can sell it back to Jamaica, but it no work the other way round. The business them time was really all in England, so you sell one record to get the money to make the next one."

Jammy: "The business in England was more organised, so I prefer to deal with that. Also in England you get an advance for each album, and you never get that in Jamaica. It wasn't just the money, it was getting your records out there in England so people could hear them and buy them. So you try and break the album in England before Jamaica. As a producer I had hit tune inna England before me ever have hit tune in Jamaica."

One of the many companies that Bunny was dealing with were a new London label named Conflict. And on this same trip to England in 1977, Bunny handed them one of the two albums that make up this release. Comprising powerful Prince Jammy dubs to tunes by Johnny Clarke, Tommy McCook, Hortense Ellis and Derrick Morgan, the album was only released on an untitled white label and has since become known by collectors as 'Conflict Dub'.

Bunny: "There was an Arab man named Syed Ali who financed the Conflict label - he was a rich man who had bought up the Music City record shops. They come like they going to be big in the business, but then it fade out and I don't know what happen. They put out some albums for me, but this one must have been at the end so it never really come out. We call that style 'jumpers'  ca the drummer jump like him riding a racehorse."

'Dubbing In The Front Yard' was mixed 5 years later, just as Jammy's residence at King Tubby's was coming to an end, but also received a similar limited release on an unmarked white label. It comes from the same era as 'Dubbing In The Back Yard', previously reissued by Pressure Sounds, hence its unofficial title, but is possibly the stronger album. The photography that accompanies this release was taken by film maker Howard Johnson the same week that the vocals for these dubs were recorded, and the front cover image features Bunny with his cousin Boon the Bush Doctor and singer Jackie Edwards in his mother's front yard.

Bunny: "Them times Count Shelley was me main source for releases with him Third World label, but me used to like help the other guy and deal with everybody good, so me like to bring the younger guys into the business. So I did some business with Starlight in Harlesden and them also called Black Music, but some of them things never get proper release. Them days you just deliver the record and you never know which one will get promoted and make an impact. But this one is pure Sly & Robbie riddims made for Jackie Edwards and Johnnie Clarke. It sound murderous!"

So 'Conflict Dub' (1977) and 'Dubbing In The Front Yard' (1982) are two extremely rare and sought after dub albums whose scarcity has only added to their reputation over the years. Listening today the music more than lives up to expectations, and together they bookend the start and end of Bunny and Jammy's extraordinary creative partnership at King Tubby's Studio.

Diggory Kenrick

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