Trojan Foundation Dub

This newly-released double-CD of dubs from Trojan Records is a pleasant surprise indeed. While yet another budget-priced dub collection from the Trojan archives might seem an underwhelming prospect, suggestive of a further serving of familiar sounds with superficial repackaging, this is different. First, it’s a definitive selection of versions. Second, there is a lot of it (40 tracks). Third, and important, the tracks are listed with both actual and ‘aka’ titles which makes it much easier to trace the dub back to the original vocal cut.

It opens in great style with Buckshot Dub from Rupie Edwards. This is one of the many dubs on the ‘skenga’ rhythm constructed from Johnnie Clarke’s Everyday Wondering, though it’s listed here as aka Everyday Wandering. (See also feature ‘Let There Be Versions’ on this site, 13 September 2007). Augustus Pablo follows up with Gun Trade (aka Fire Burning dub), a melodica-driven dub with a sharp percussive sound, produced by Tommy Cowans. Then it’s the unmistakable Lee Perry production of Susan Cadogan’s Fever, rendered here in the dub suitably entitled Influenza Version. Thus the pattern continues.

The Bunny Lee production on the dub of Delroy Wilson’s You Keep on Running reveals the King Tubby feel for fading instruments in and out, and the distinctive light percussion, so different from Lee Perry’s eccentricities. Elsewhere on the first CD are several productions from Niney the Observer with his distinctive vital take on dub, evident in for instance Fire from the Observer Station (on the rhythm track of Dennis Browns’ Cassandra). Bunny Lee’s A Colder Version (derived from Johnny Clarke’s Cold I Up) is another great bass-led dub. The nicely titled Classy Dub (aka Extra Classic Dub) with production credits to Gregory Isaacs and Ossie Hibbert is simple dub with reverb, echo, bass and snatches of Isaacs’ original vocal appearing in the mix. Dub Dat from Junior Dread reveals Lee Perry in ruthless mode, chopping parts of vocals and portions of words to produce a staccato vocal dub above a regular loping bass line. The version of Dennis Brown’s seminal Wolf and Leopards provided here by Niney in the shape of No Conscience is amongst the best tracks here.

The music is set out in chronological order. Thus while the second CD continues with further productions from Lee Perry (opening with his excellent Landmark Dub) and from Bunny Lee, it also includes dubs from Linval Thompson, Sly and Robbie and others as it heads into the 80s. The contribution from Gregory Isaacs in the shape of Tam Tam (aka One More Time dub) points to his underrated skills as a producer and also demonstrates how the dub sound had matured by the late 70s. Bunny Lee’s familiar Zion Gate dub of Horace Andy’s vocal track is included here, along with his production of Baby Why Dub where the bass practically plays a melody line while the other instruments fade in and out around it. The collection closes with Crushing of the Storm Troopers (aka King of the Arena dub) from Linval Thompson and the Roots Radics, with its echo, repeat, and slow bass-rhythm brining things to a fine conclusion.

Released alongside two other double-CDs (one devoted to ska, the other to ‘mod reggae’) Foundation Dub for once lives up to the billing on the liner notes that ‘this will be one of the most entertaining and satisfying musical history lessons you will ever experience’.

Foundation Dub, 2 CDs and download formats, Trojan/Spectrum, released June 2010

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