Wednesday, October 14, 1998

Forward From Bass: Dub From Randy's 1972-75

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Steve Barrow's superb Blood and Fire label has been reissuing Jamaican artists from reggae's mid-'70s golden age for the last three years. Now that classics from King Tubby and Lee Perry's studios -- from the likes of Horace Andy, U-Roy and the Congos -- have been properly exhumed, Barrow turns to deeper gems. Forward the Bass: Dub from Randy's 1972-75 chronicles an ace rhythm section of, among others, Sly Dunbar on drums, Ashton "Family Man" Barrett on bass, even Augustus Pablo on keyboards, with Skatalite horn legend Tommy McCook, bringing producer Clive Chinn's tracks to life and vice versa. Tracks range from the pleasantly bizarre "Extraordinary Version" which, in true dub style, uses a sped-up tape squeaking as its lead voice, to the sublime "Easy Come Dub," a thick portion of rock-steady ease anchored by shimmering, twinkling keyboards.

Dynamics within the great dub flow are key here: on "Sabotage Dub," the band stretches out into Motown horn stabs and R&B drama, while on "Oh Jah Dub," Chinn turns the echoing drum sounds of a stripped-down rhythm section into their own tocking narrative. As ever, the idea is that these dub remixes stand on their own, and Chinn and company prove this here, masterfully and utterly.

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