Saturday, October 8, 2011
Darkest Night, On a Wet-Sounding Dub: Keith Hudson- Playing It Cool & Playing It Right (1982)
In the comments for the Noel Ellis record I posted a week or so ago, Owl of Holy Warbles lauded the album's "crumbling, left-field production." That well-chosen word, "crumbling" set me to thinking about this, one of the last records from "The Dark Prince of Reggae" and dub pioneer Keith Hudson. A murky, damaged-sounding dub classic that, at its best moments, seems to be disintegrating off the reel-to-reel, like so much bongwater-molded crumbs of funk.
The high point for me, and one of my four or five favorite dub tracks of all time, is "Formula Dub" (which I included in my Dub Hot Dubs, for anyone who heard that). The guitars on this track gurgle and distort, the tape seems to lag and change speed, and everything is just in a glorious shambles. It's an unassuming masterpiece, and it makes the record completely worth the time all on its lonesome.
Not that it has to-- the rest of the record is excellent, although I'll admit it was a bit of a grower for me. Comprised of sung tracks (of highly dubby persuasion), immediately followed by their dub versions, the album has a cyclical, dreamlike quality to it. You hear a song, it's all dreamy and laid-back, then it segues into a full-on dub of itself-- you submerge into the shadow realm-- and then another song comes on, pulling you back to just below the surface, and the cycle begins anew.
One of the better tracks is "California" (followed by it's shadow-brother, "By Night Dub"), which apparently describes a long, late-night drive, its eery refrain "darkest night, on a wet-looking road" seeming especially evocative.
Also be sure to check out Mr. Owl's post of Mr. Hudson's all-time classic Pick A Dub, as it is awesome.
PLAYING IT COOL AND PLAYING IT RIGHT (320)