This new dub album from Yabass Yaba Radics follows up the recent well-received ‘Community Rocker’ (see reggaemusic.org.uk 12th January 2013) with nine further tracks in a retro dubplate style.
Grouped around a spoof Western theme, Dubplate Drifter opens with ‘Arrival’ – a repeating two chord instrumental with its drums and bass rhythm becoming a little more assertive toward the end – before the more muscular ‘Everyday Hustling’ bursts in with some classic dub styling held together by a powerful bass, with a hint of Tubby-era hi-hat in there somewhere too. A very decent dub. ‘Saloon Wondering’ (nice word play on ‘Everyday Wondering’ to be found in these two track titles..?) follows through with another steady dub in the old style, while the final track on ‘Reel One’ offers a melodica-sound that conjures up the intended spaghetti Western theme, reflected in its title ‘Big Chief Van Cleef’. Most of the tracks on ‘Reel Two’ are perhaps too similarly slow in tempo, demanding of a bit more light and shade, though ‘Heavy Horse’ is worthy of attention, its bass phrase and drum mixed up-front, with everything else much further back in the rhythm. ‘The Rapids’ is, in contrast, a more uptempo rhythm track with a fine dubbed-up sound, instrumentation fading in and out in the familiar dub style.
As an instrumental album in the continuous dubplate style of releases of the past, the music fits the feel of the dub tradition and generates an atmospheric sound consistent with its theme. Produced by Gibsy Rhodes, and mastered at Maximal Sound in France, the imperfections of the sound are more than made up for by the period feel of the music and the sympathetic production throughout.
Yabass Yaba Radics: Dubplate Drifter. Release 20th April 2013 on CD, DDL and tape (Smash N Grab/Springline Jamaica label).
From the folks at Springline Records/Come Fi Conquer we encounter an album fashioned not in the trial and tribulation of Kingston, Jamaica, but in the mean streets of Willesden, North-West London. Like previous releases from this undervalued label the sound, feel and message remain true to the origins of the music and its guiding influences. The album opens with ‘Silver Locks Crackin’, a no-nonsense skanking start to the proceedings, followed up with ‘Playing Good Vibes’, a master lesson in slow, spiritual, melodic roots from Yabass, featuring also the contrasting input of Michael Rose. This strong and impressive track is followed immediately by its dub, ‘Vibez a Wa’, with Jah Wa Wa making another guest contribution – a great dub production with snatches of the original vocal and even a touch of ‘row fisherman row’ and ‘down by the riverside’ in there somewhere, this is a fine deconstruction with all the elements of a dub-era classic mix and something that sounds almost like a Tubby-era hi-hat making itself known. ‘Community Rocker’ itself comes in with a busy dubby mix, and a lot going on around and behind the simple ‘community rocker’ line and the repeat bass phrase beneath. ‘Fear No Evil’ opens with its brief childlike vocals and a biblical message, then is straight into a deep dub-led mix, along with melodica-sounding instrumentation and a sparse drum and bass pattern. A doomy sort of feel indeed.
‘Who Jah Bless’ is a delightful discovery – again, a simple repeating vocal figure, this time with a striking keyboard intervention reminiscent of play-the-organ-at-home adverts of bygone days, after which the instrumentation and vocals are stripped away to go into an echoing bass-heavy dub before reintroducing the vocals: a brilliant little track, and quite unlike anything else recently encountered, closing with a nice spoken rhetorical question: ‘who could beat that?’ Indeed – and a great job from producer Gibsy Rhodes. Listen at the You Tube link below – it’ll spread!. Next up, ‘Judgement Day’ is thoughtful roots music, nice percussive sounds in the background, a subtle and interesting mix and the album ends on a high with ‘Natural Situation’, a splendid dubbed-up rhythm track.
A surprisingly strong album and a most rewarding way to spend 32 minutes of your life: have a listen.
Yabass Yaba Radics: ‘Community Rocker’. Release March 2013 (CD/DDL/cassette), Springline Jamaica- Come Fi Conquer-Roots Lab Intl