Yabby You - Beware Dub

Conquering Lion (Dub Plate Mix)
Beware Dub
Peace
Give Praises
Together
Plague
Freedom
Deliverance
Prophets
Feel Alright
Praises
Selassie I Memorial
Sensimillia
Life Money version
Marshall Dreadlocks (Version)
God Is Watching You (Dub Plate Mix)

Vivian 'Yabby You' Jackson: 'Beware Dub' was a very nice LP that was a classic, very popular in England. That was not mixed as one LP, it was version sides from singles, and then me put it together and take the different version them and compile it.

That version named 'Beware' now - that is great, and one of King Tubby's greatest versions. It has my voice on it at the beginning, saying "Sorry, take this one bra' (brother) Tubbs", that is me speaking on the harmony track, and then when we play back the tape it sound so unique, you know! What I was doing you see is when we voicing it, the harmony them don't suppose to sing until when me start the lead vocal. You ever heard about the Flames, the group like Alton Ellis and the Flames? Well it was me and the Flames inside of the studio, and before me start them inclined to say it. and me say "What kind of thing that, Flames?" and then me say "Take this one bra' Tubbs, sorry", and Tubbs have the tape a run, so when we come out and him hear it him say "well that nice - we do it like that".

Ever since I was a teenager, I had been fascinated by the otherworldly music of Yabby You. Yet he was rarely interviewed, and nothing seemed to have been written about how he had created these intense and involving records, such as 'Beware Dub'. So when I had the chance to talk to him many years later, I immediately asked him about his production techniques and approach to recording. Yabby seemed to enjoy discussing his working methods in detail, and was happy for me to record our next conversation, when he shared some personal insights into King Tubby's Studio and the engineers who worked there. We started by discussing his first production, 'Conquering Lion', three versions of which appear on this compilation, including the aforementioned 'Beware'.

I record the riddim down at Dynamic Studios - the drum, the bass, the riddim guitar and the organ. From the day it do at Dynamics everyone know say it going to be a hit. Waterhouse and Gullybank was an underworld place, where most of the sufferers come from, and they never expect someone from Gullybank would make that quality or make that type of riddim. So all of them things there add together a lickle bit. Earl 'Chinna' Smith did play the guitar, Aston 'Family Man' Barrett play the bass and Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace play the drum. I never have the experience to know say well I must get a 4-track tape so we just use 2-track. The rest of the instrument them me dub on afterwards at King Tubby's on a 4-track. I voice it at Tubby's and we dub on the horns and the voices - like the lead and two harmony.

King Tubby's did have a lickle dub studio, and him was the studio engineer. When him hear the riddim he love it cause it was a brand new sound. It was a new riddim within the reggae, so when him hear it him get fascinated with it, and him didn't want anyone else having anything to do with it - him wanted himself to get the proper opportunity on it. And I was staying in Waterhouse at that time and his studio was in Waterhouse, so everything did just work out eventually. Him was one of the greatest engineer, and him was a technician too, and him develop the sounds, like all the bass - him have resistors and things there and him make it become more round. And then when you're voicing now, he could tell you how to get that certain quality. Most engineer them never know that, but through him was a technician he knew how to build up on the rhythm section, and how to put on resistors on the bass, and then it have a special sound.

Tubby's didn't know how to arrange harmonies and them things, but what him really know is how to deal with the sound. Like if him hear a sound he can say it will be better if you change that sound until we reach one that fit in. And then that inspired you as a singer now to sing pon it comfortable, you know. Tubby's have that precise timing, like with all the echo. And him have that High Pass filter - him have that sound inside of the board, and him did arrange it.

Tubby's sound system was the number one sound. Him cut dub off the riddims, and then the dancehall people them hear them, so that was a help to promote the tunes. With Tubby's sound, the dubs was one of the keys of its success, ca the crowd just loved the King's dub. He had followers and customers who wanted his dubs to play on their sounds, so he do a good business selling dubs on the side. I was my own producer. I never deal with no company, or pay no radio station, or thing like that. So when his sound played 'Conquering Lion' it really help and he played that one dub for at least six months And then the people just loved it. So after me have about ten songs me realise say me can release a dub LP, and when the dub LP came out it was so fascinating that it encourage me now to make version two, three, four and so on.

First we do 'King Tubby's Prophecy Of Dub', it come just after my first vocal LP. Then you have 'King Tubby's Meet Yabby You' where I sing six songs on one side and the dubs are  one the other side - well that is a classic, you know. Then there was 'King Tubby's Prophecies Of Dub', that was mixed by Pat Kelly, who was working at Tubby's at the time. Him is a nice guy and a real gentleman, so I gave him full credit as the engineer. Him have a different sound from Tubby's - each have their own style, but Tubby's have the talk, and the sound and the studio named King Tubby's. So Pat Kelly's works wasn't well promoted like Tubby's and when the customers come they want Tubby's name.

Well, to tell you the truth, I never do much work with Jammy's. Jammy's had just come from Canada and then him and Tubby's grew up together, so him asked me to give him some work on my things so that him can get some practice. So me encourage him, and me built a tune named 'Zambia' - it was on the 'Shank I Shek' riddim that me do over -  and me named the label 'Jammy's' in order to promote him. That tune sounded good - it was Robbie and Sly, them days them were new with Revolutionaries at Channel One - and it did really catch on. And me name the label 'Jammy's' ca me know it would a get popular, and then him name get popular. So that was like the start of his record label, and then him name his sound Jammy's. Jammy's have a different mixing style than Tubby's, but with all who come there, Tubby's style was the one that really was the frontline. Everybody who come want Tubby's style, but through Tubby's build amps and do technician work, him wasn't round the recording board in the studio all the while. Of all of the engineers there, Philip Smart was more closer to Tubby's style. It can be hard to tell his mixes apart from Tubby's. So you have Pat Kelly, you have Jammy's and you have a lickle youth named Scientist. Well when Jammy's start go round the board, Pat Kelly leave the studio work and go back to him singing career.

Scientist was another of Tubby's engineers who benefitted from Yabby's help and encouragement.

Scientist did have a unique sound. What happened with Scientist was, through my riddims was a special kind of creation, you find him work better with my riddims. Him get the hardcore them. Him never really come to the studio as an engineer, him come to wind transformers, and then, any time him get a little time, him come inside the studio and watch Tubby's, and so him learn. No one ever really teach him, him just watch and learn beca him like it so, and then he just leave the transformers. So when he eventually develop himself, you have customers like Bunny Lee and me who want now a different thing, like a different style from Tubby's. So you find say me and Bunny lee mostly use him. We make 'Yabby You Meets Scientist AT The Dub Station', and what me do is me make him mix the riddims over fe make his thing, fe make a dub LP. And now the quality whe' him get is a proven skill, beca none of them other guys who mix riddims ever sound like him, so it was very great you know.

When the original 'Beware Dub' was all mixed at King Tubby's, two of the bonus tracks on this compilation were mixed at Channel One studios.

Ernest Hoo Kim also mix for me at Channel One. And then you had Barnabas who used to be inside the studio and him just catch on and learn. Him learn drumming from Sly and him learn engineering from Ernest. There was a next one named Crucial Bunny who we call Bunny Tom tom. And later Soldgie also at Channel One.

Yabby You also found great success recording some of his most passionate tunes with Lee Perry. The track 'Deliverance' is a recut of 'Jah Vengeance', originally recorded at the Black Ark Studios.

Black Ark was a great studio and Lee Perry is really a great producer with a great sound. You know the tune name 'Jah Vengeance', and the one named 'Run Come Rally', and the first song Wayne Wade do named 'Black Is Our Colour', well I did those three tunes at Black Ark. Them times there Bob Marley used to be up there. Lee Perry have a unique sound when you recording. Is a pity him turn to the mad business, but between me and you I don't really think him mad, you know, him just turn to that business. Well from him turn to that business, everything crash - the studio and all them thing. Him not mad, is just a doctrine thing get to him head. Him had to keep off certain artists who come back to him, come pressure him for money, you know. But sometime me think him take it too far.

A critical payer in Yabby You's work from the mid-70s was Tommy McCook. Although best known for his sax playing, his fife and flute playing for Yabby were particularly distinctive, as heard on bonus track 'Sensimena'.

Tommy McCook now, when him hear my riddims him say that is the type of riddim whe' him really love to blow his horns, ca him ask me to give him the work. Him and Bobby Ellis, them used to play together, so me always use them together, and sometimes me get some other man on trombone, but most of the works me used Tommy McCook. Tommy used to play flute and him play the tenor sax, and we record the sax first and then him go back and dub on the flute. Like on 'Death Trap' - that was a nice tune. And then also me used the fife, and people always wonder where me get that sound. Tommy McCook would play one fife and you had this brother named Dirty Harry who used to blow tenor sax too, and then me would dub back the third one on top. You see, horns take a lot of time and very expensive. And those days reggae music wasn't like now, it was very poor, and so most producers try fe avoid using horns.

Just as his musical approach was often unorthodox, Yabby's religious beliefs differed markedly from the prevailing Rasta doctrines of the time.

You have the Rasta business, like the Rastamen believe Emperor Haile Selassie is the creator who create people. I used to try and show them he is just another man like anyone of we. I show them Jesus Christ is recorded in history as a great individual and him also great. It is recorded in the Bible where Jesus say "my Father is greater than I am". So no man has seen the Father at no time because the Almighty is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. A spirit is like the wind: you feel the wind and you can't deny it, but you can't see it. Or it is like the word: you hear the word, but you don't see when it enter your ears. Or like nature: you see that the plant is growing, but you can't see what grow inna it, you understand?

Yabby You's music certainly carries an unusual intensity to it, and he was very clear that his work was serving a higher spiritual purpose.

So with God now: I was trying fe educate them, and I feel that if I use music I will be able to spread out all over the world, spread out and reach those type of people, for them have a zeal for godliness. Dub music also carry the message. Ca if you play the music it captivate your mood, it bring you and draw you out of that folliness, and brings you into consciousness.

Nearly 40 years after its original release, 'Beware Dub' has lost none of its power and conviction, and this reissue should hopefully confirm its status as one of the key dub albums of the 1970s.

Diggory Kenrick

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