R&B-Voiced Dub Reggae

Oct 14, 1998 at 12:00 am

On 129 Beat Street, Junior Buyles and Friends -- U Brown and Pablo Moses among them -- voice "conscious" lyrics over as-tight rhythm arrangements, reflecting both reggae's deep debt to American R&B -- lots of horns, colorful vocalists -- and the influence of Jamaica's religious-political climate. While the lineage of each track here is mercifully detailed by Barrow in extensive liner notes, the spiritual, purposeful tone of songs like U-Brown's rasta-anthem "So Long" -- or, better still, "See a Man's Face," in which Neville Tate's warm vibrato laments, "you can see a man's face/but you can't see God" over tasteful dubbing -- shows how dub's usual eccentricities are as effective at burrowing into consciences as for mental space travel. A big, hearty, Echoplexed bravo.