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Wednesday, April 9, 2003

100% of Dub

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2003 at 12:00 AM

This compilation is a giving-credit-where-credit-is-way-way-overdue collection of the riddims that launched a generation of ’70s Jamaican singers and dub reggae as we know it.

While most recent efforts to give props to early reggae artists either compile bygone hits from underappreciated vocalists (see any Blood & Fire reissue) or jock the eccentric knob-twiddling of more colorful producers like Lee “Scratch” Perry (who may have made decent records 20 years ago but lately has turned into a touring joke playing reggae versions of Motown songs for the spring break crowd). 100% not only concentrates on what makes King Tubby (aka Osbourne Ruddock) influential, but also what makes him relevant. As heard in the timeless riddims of “Narrow Dub” and “Real Gone Crazy Dub” by his ace studio band (featuring pre-Black Uhuru members Sly and Robbie, et al.) there is a still-current studio ingenuity here. Tubby may have been too busy making quality music to live the kind of life that makes for good marquee value, but he damn well knew how to put together a mighty rhythm section.

Unlike Perry, the emphasis here is on sustaining and maintaining instead of standing out, which is why Tubby’s concentric rhythms still resonate in dancehall today. What’s more, said rhythms can still rock a car system better than any neo-crunk rap nonsense that’ll be forgotten by summer. While labels from New Jack reggae label BSI to German techno icons Basic Channel all fly the flag of the expansive sonic reinvention of dub, 100% of Dub reminds us it was Tubby who raised the sumbitch in the first place.

E-mail Hobey Echlin at letters@metrotimes.com.

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