Dub Station

If you ever see an affordable copy of King Tubby Meets the Aggrovators At Dub Station on cd or vinyl buy it and then give me a call. I’ve been after it for some time. Recorded in 1975 (and reissued on cd in 2007 and currently out of print) it is a superb dub reggae album. The cd reissue is currently priced on Discogs at getting towards £45. A vinyl copy on Amazon marketplace is being offered at £134.00. Yup. So if you chance upon a copy in a charity shop, car boot sale or second hand shop that doesn’t check Discogs, buy it. You won’t regret it and it may just become a handy nestegg. Not that you’d want to sell it.

A Youtube uploader has handily put the whole album up and the bonus disc of another twelve songs. Bunny Lee (on the phone above) assembled The Aggrovators as the house band at his studio an throughout the 70s and 80s they included the cream of Jamaica’s musicians. Jackie Mittoo, Sly and Robbie, Aston Barrett and countless others passed through the ranks. King Tubby was Bunny Lee’s go-to man for dub effects and this album showcases Tubby’s skills with tape manipulation, echo, sound effects and all manner of tricks. The band, particularly the rhythm section, are on fire throughout- bouncy and punchy on the faster tracks, spaced and stoned on the slower ones. Horns and woodwind provide fanfares and melody, riding above the stunning bass.

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Loud And Clear

This came out on Record Shop Day back in April, Timothy J Fairplay’s remix of Finitribe’s 101, a beat and bass driven monster on the orangest vinyl I’ve ever seen.

Getting There

This came out digitally at the start of May, a very nice chugger from Rich Lane in his Cotton Bud guise, successfully carrying off the trick of being both uplifting and melancholic- lots of echoes of Technique period New Order but updated for now, summer 2015. Speaking of summer, where’s the sunshine? It’s late May and we’ve had nothing approaching early summer weather yet. People living in sunnier and warmer climes, please leave your gloating in the comment box.

Now What You Hear Is Not A Test

In 1991 CJ Mackintosh remixed Gang Starr’s Take A Rest, starting with the ‘Now what you hear is not a test’ sample and then housifying it from there. This didn’t go down too well with the goosedown jacket fraternity but hip-house had its place and I still like this remix, even if it is a tad dated. Guru and DJ Premier made their music sound so effortless.

In Colour

There’s been a lot of internet used up today with opinions about Spike Island, from naysayers and fans alike. I just read a review of the forthcoming Jamie xx solo album, In Colour, and then scurried off to listen to something off it. Listening to Gosh Jamie has taken that line from She Bangs The Drums and run with it- ‘the past is your’s the future’s mine’. It’s exhilarating, inventive and absorbing stuff. The staccato rhythm (sounding like the blood pumping through your head when you’re exercising and at full pelt), the build up and then the drama of the last two minutes is something else.

Wherever it was that I read the review said that Jamie’s album is about memories of UK rave and dance music (or something along those lines). That dance music is always about creating something new from the recent past. That this album is in colour compared to the black and white palette of The Xx. I’m up for all of that. Now I’m off to listen to Gosh again.

Spiked

Twenty five years ago today I was one of thirty thousand people standing on an island in the river Mersey near Widnes, just next to a chemical plant. The idea a year or two previously that a British indie guitar band could draw that many people to watch them was absurd and that was one of the things The Stone Roses brought to the late 80s, the thinking big and being ambitious. The day itself involved a lot of sitting around, a few support acts that didn’t really connect at all and huge queues for the beer tents. This wasn’t really a beery crowd though, unlike Heaton Park in 2012 which was collectively about as drunk as it could be. The band came on at nine and played well, clearly partly blown away by the event and the crowd’s enthusiasm. The sound quality has been debated ever since, the wind whipping it about the island. Where we were, it sounded good. The final three songs were illuminated by the lights bouncing off the huge mirrorballs suspended above the stage just as it had gone dark- Made Of Stone, Elizabeth My Dear and I Am The Resurrection. We were driven there in Al’s Grandad’s chocolate brown Austin Allegro. I distinctly remember the compilation tape we played on the way. Killer by rave hero Adamski (and Seal)…

808 State’s Pacific, which was everywhere that summer (and the one before)…

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And this, Sympathy For the Devil. Woo woo.

King Size

Eric Cantona turned forty nine a couple of days ago. He was, as far as we’re concerned in this part of the world, the King. In modern football terms, as they said about The Clash, Eric is the only footballer that mattered.

King Tubby’s productions are rightly the stuff of legend, the work of a man who re-shaped music. Ideally some of the dubs he cut in the 1970s should be listened to alongside the A-side, running together. This one from 1976 has the lead side of Johnny Clarke’s Don’t Trouble Trouble and then at 3.27 Tubby’s Ruffer Version from the flip. Phased horns, machine gun fire, underwater sounds, sirens, the odd snatch of vocal and the sublime bass of The Aggrovators original rhythm track.