Reggae music has without doubt been male dominated over the years. There are many cultural reasons for this, and of course at the peak of old-style analogue dub in the 1970s women were not exactly in the driving seat in any areas of music. Although there were many female artists – in Motown especially, and, within the reggae world, in lovers’ rock – but managers and producers were almost all male.
Producer Adrian Sherwood now presents ‘Dub No Frontiers’ and it is intended as a platform for leading female artists currently ‘operating to unite and celebrate in dub’. With contemporary digital recording equipment plus the global reach of net-based communication, vocals could be added to rhythm tracks generated by Sherwood relatively easily. “Many of the singers said they felt the dub/reggae arena was a male preserve and a little intimidating even, so we decided to invite artists to perform a song of their choice, all in non-English on our rhythm tracks.” This new collection aims to redress the balance a little, and its interpretation of dub is bang up to date.
The ten tracks produced by Sherwood (with additional production contributions from the late Lincoln ‘Style’ Scott, with arrangements from Skip ‘Little Axe’ McDonald,) are arresting in their impact, including Rita Morar’s ‘Meri Awaaz Suno (Hear My Voice)’, a gentle track sung in Hindi over the Sacred Ground Rhythm; Tunisia’s Neyssatou’s strong version of Bob Marley’s ‘War’ sung in Arabic; and Kerieva McCormick’s (who led the project with Sherwood) ‘Chavale’ sung in Romani.
The creation of the new versions began in London with leading reggae figures including keyboardist Franklin ‘Bubblers’ Waugh, who played with Sly and Robbie; the late bassist George Oban and drummer Style Scott, together with Sherwood’s ty rhythm section, plus guitarist Vince Black and the Ital Horns. “We broke the rhythms down and re-cut them,” he says. “We remade them, rebuilt them completely, then upgraded them, making them better and better and better each time and then we invited the singers to sing over them. The project kept evolving. It kept growing and has turned into something extraordinarily powerful.”
The album artwork includes an image of Afeni Shakur Davis painted by artist, musician and filmmaker Peter Harris.
‘Adrian Sherwood presents Dub No Frontiers’ release 22nd July 2022 via Real World Records,