Sunday, May 22, 2011
Skulldubbery in Three Parts, the Hard Way: Tappa Zukie- Escape From Hell (1977); The Revolutionaries- Top Ranking Dub (1978); Black Magic Dub (1980)
This is a heavy, gangsta-leaning slice of right-on dub. Solid stuff, more of a focus on tuff rhythms and fat basslines (with the occasional grace of a saxophone flourish or whatnot, as on the excellent "Population Dub") than waves of echo or out-of-left-field effects. Perfect for cruising the streets with a hard stare. Not quite on the level of his incendiary, funky-punk, sharp-as-a-razor-blade work on Man Ah Warrior, which is easily his masterpiece-- though that one is a vocal record, so this one is about as good as a Zukie dub can get.
This is the original playlist by the way, none of the reissues bonus tracks are present. I oughtta get those, actually. And you oughtta get this. 160 rip.
ESCAPE FROM HELL
The second in a series of dub records I've been enjoying that happens to feature a skull on the cover. An arbitrary connecting thread, I know, but this is happening. I'm sure it's happened before.
And it's another solid entry. If dub can be repetitive, limited, and occasionally unoriginal in its exploitation of the formula, one can still find immense value in the archetypal quality of the repetitions. A record can find its place inside the hive of the whole, expanding the universe of the genre-- a genre that perhaps you love, perhaps you wish to be infinite. This sometimes occurs in the motorik repetitions on the simple framework evident in Krautrock; nearly defines Exotica in all its ad nauseum, glorious redundancies; the entire discography of The Fall; and garage rock, free jazz, library music, etc., etc.
So Top Ranking Dub is not a game-changer, but once again we have a solid entry into this dub universe. Not all the vocal snippets are to my liking, but "Lightning Dub", with its cribbing of Sam Cooke's "Cupid", nearly justifies the record on its own. As does the nod to "Suspicious Minds" on "Blockade Dub." These are simple, honest dubs, devoid of any visionary interference. Sometimes, it is better this way, and sometimes we need Lee Perry to come along and distort the universe through his haze of weed smoke, schizophrenia, and burning cornmeal on fish. This record is for the former instance. A normal dumb dub day, playing badminton in the yard and definitely having beers. 256.
And here's the final specimen. Once again, you might say it fits the bill of good&honest, rather than cosmically weird or expertly twiddled-- but musically it's quite interesting, with a hard edge that recommends it to those who prefer their Jamaican music more tuff than smiley. Not a lot of info seems to be floating about surrounding this release, but all you have to know is that it's cool as hell-- slightly gangsta, with a foot in Mittoo soul-instrumental territory. "Prophet A Come", in particular, has a bass line with huge stoned menace, and is not to be unheard; and "Jungle Dub" sports some extremely refreshing harmonica. This may be a sleeper but it's very much a winner. VBR rip.