It’s back to the roots with this excellent collection of ‘rare dubs’ from Attack Records, recorded during the 1970s under the direction of producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and representative of one of his several labels of the time. Don’t expect digital refinement and state-of-the-art studio sound. It’s vintage dub where the volume control has to make up for the basic quality of some of these early analogue recordings. The compilation begins with ‘Don’t Cut Off Your Dub’, a fine version of Linval Thompson’s ‘Don’t Cut Off Your Dreadlocks’: a familiar and powerful dose of classic-era dub to get things started. ‘A Dancing Roots Version’ (a dub take on Cornell Campbell’s ‘A Dance in a Greenwich Farm’) sums up the strengths of the album and, again, will be instantly recognisable to people with any kind of interest in this seminal period of dub reggae. Johnny Clarke’s ‘Easy Skanking Version’ sounds like a lesson in early dub mixing, while the involvement of King Tubby is evident in the distinctive hi-hat sound to be found on several Johnny Clarke dubs here. There’s strength in the very simplicity of Derrick Morgan and Hortense Ellis’ dub of ‘I’m Gone’ while the very heavy dub of Horace Andy’s ‘Money Money’ is still vital today. Musicians involved are the A-list you would have anticipated, including Tommy McCook, Ansel Collins, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett (and there are a couple of Marley tunes here), Robbie Shakespeare, Lowell ‘Sly’ Dunbar and Tony Chin. An exquisite roots-of-the roots collection.
Attack Dub: Rare Dubs from Attack Records 1973-1977; released on Jamaican Recordings (CD/vinyl), February 2015.