Isolation Mix Eight

An hour and five minutes of lockdown vibes and an attempt to lift the spirits and up the tempo a bit this week. This one is a global trawl of tunes taking in Dubwood Allstars and their splicing together of King Tubby, Dylan Thomas and Richard Burton, a classic 70s Lee Perry production from the Black Ark in Kingston, Jamaica, Moon Duo doing Black Sabbath in very laid back style, groove- based melodic noise from Scotland (Mogwai) and Norway (Mythologen), some funky 80s crossover dance pop from NYC, Natasha Khan and Toy as Sexwitch, Paris duo Acid Arab and South London’s Rude Audio, all on a Middle Eastern tip, and early 90s Balearic dub house majesty from Sheer Taft (Glasgow) and Underworld (Essex). Bank holiday weekend. Take it easy. Stay safe.

Dubwood Allstars: Under Dubwood

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Zap- Pow: Riverstone

Moon Duo: Planet Caravan

Mogwai: The Sun Smells Too Loud

Mythologen: Trust

Tom Tom Club: Wordy Rappinghood

Sexwitch: Ha Howa Ha Howa

Acid Arab: Club DZ

Rude Audio: Rumble On Arab Street

Sheer Taft: Cascades (Hypnotone Mix)

Underworld: M.E.

Pounding System

Not far to the north of where we live lies the River Mersey. The riverbanks on both sides are walkable and when you cross by the footbridge up near Ashton- on- Mersey golf club there are a maze of paths that wind their way through floodplains and fields, either east to the water park and then Chorlton or west through to Urmston. Much of this land is known as an Ees- Stretford Ees, Chorlton Ees and Sale Ees. Ees is an archaic word meaning a piece of land liable to flood or water meadow. The footpaths cut their way through the Ees, surrounded by trees, hedges and meadows. The M60 and its link roads are all interwoven but are very quiet at the moment. Usually from our back garden you can hear the M60. At the moment you can hear the birds and the occasional rattle of the tramline, a mile in the other direction. Our daily bout of exercise sometimes takes us along the riverbank, especially in the evening when it’s much quieter and social distancing is easier and less fraught, and through these lanes and pathways. As the sun dips out west beyond Irlam and Warrington you can sometimes get to witness a spectacular sunset. This is one of the positive things lockdown is giving us- finding local moments of beauty, even in our fairly unromantic and ordinary parts of south west Manchester, and this is now life in 2020- taking the time under these restrictions to appreciate what’s on your doorstep.

Here is some dub splendour to match the sunset above from Dub Syndicate, a key part of the On U Sound stable. I was going to post the majestic, far out sounds of Ravi Shankar (Pt 1) but it turns out I’ve posted that before, back in 2017. Pounding System was the opening track on their 1982 album The Pounding System. The bass and drums/percussion are so precise but so loose in Sherwood’s hands. The horns seem to rise up from the mixing desk, levitating. Skanking guitar parts pop in and out. Every element in it’s own space and with room to breathe.

Pounding System

Declaration Of Dub

The fourteen tracks that make up King Tubby’s 1975 album Dub From The Roots came as some kind of epiphany to me back in the 90s. Spread across two sides of vinyl the album showcases Tubby’s skills and prowess at the mixing desk. The whole album is swamped in reverb and delay, a wash of sound effects with the bass riding on top or underneath). Drums and percussion bounce around, flourishes of organ and guitar drop in and out. Rimshots ricochet between the speakers. Backing vocals get pushed up front briefly. Timeless, outer space music.

Declaration Of Dub

Here Come The Warm Dreads

Coming out hot on the heels of his latest album Rainford, recorded with dub supremo Adrian Sherwood, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry has now put out a dub version of that album, with some new Scratch- Sherwood tracks, titled Heavy Rain. If all that weren’t enough the new album has a collaboration with Brian Eno, Here Come The Warm Dreads, a dubbed out Eno version of the track Makumba Rock. And that is your Friday soundtrack and earworm ordered and booked.

Khasha Macka

More from the magic fingers and ears of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. His Black Ark Studio had a four track tape recorder. Max Romeo said Scratch had another eight tracks running in his head. Black Board Jungle came out in 1973, recorded with The Upsetters, is a contender for first dub album, separating the instruments with drums and bass in the left channel and guitars and horns largely in the right. This song, Khasha Macka (a reworking of Prince Django’s Hot Tip) is a wonderful trip. Check the splashy cymbals and the part at three minutes where he drops everything out to foreground the bass.

Khasha Macka 

Rockin’ In The Back Yard

Back to work today after a fortnight off, so it’s a deep breath, time to gird one’s loins and get back into it. Reorganising my records recently led to me discovering various things I’d forgotten I had including a 7″ of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s 1978 song Roast Fish And Cornbread, four minutes which on their own mark Scratch out as some kind of musical genius. The son opens with him singing ‘clip clop, cloppity cloppity cloppity cloppity high’ as the offbeat riddim rides in, a cow’s mooing utilised as part of the rhythm and Scratch further singing to his own beat- ‘dreadnought and peanut, roast fish and cornbread… skanking in the backyard’.

Roast Fish And Cornbread

Strike The Balance

Some On U Sound heaviness for Friday, from 1989’s Dub Syndicate album Strike The Balance, a masterpiece of late 80s Sherwood dub production. This song is proper rootsy dub, all bass and echo and delay with Bim Sherman singing and a freaked out metallic Dalek vocal running through it. Towards the end some woodwind floats over the top. The rest of the album rocks too, the chanting of Hey Ho, a cover of Je T’Aime with Shara Nelson and closer I’m The Man For You Baby. Like most of Adrian Sherwood’s back catalogue, it is worth shelling out for.

Mafia

Black Vest

I’m trying to think of a situation that wouldn’t be improved by sticking some Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry on. Not coming up with much.

Black Vest is off 1976’s Super Ape album, ten dub cuts made with The Upsetters at The Black Ark. This song is particularly good, a bubbling bassline from Boris Gardiner and some deliciously delayed horns.

Black Vest

Just What Is It That You Want To Do?

Sunday always seems like a good day for dub. This was shared with me the other day via the wonders of social media and I then shared it again so some of you may have heard this already but for those of you that haven’t it’s a bit of a treat, Loaded done dub stylee.

 

Thus far we haven’t been able to discover who did this but what I know is this- it dates from the first decade of the 21st century; is a bootleg; and is a delightful re-working of Primal Scream/Andrew Weatherall’s Loaded. Enjoy.

In other Primal Scream news, next month will see the release of their 1993 album Give Out But Don’t Give Up. Not the version that was released in 1994, the ‘dance traitors’ album, but the version they recorded in Memphis with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section of David Hood and Roger Hawkins and producer Tom Dowd. At the time the group (and Alan McGee) were worried that the tapes weren’t contemporary enough, not rawk enough and were too polite, so they shelved them. The songs were buffed up and re-recorded and added to by George Drakoulis with more guitars and more sheen. The original tapes were more country, more blues, more gospel. I’ve not heard much apart from some brief clips on their Twitter account but it sounds intriguing enough. There are multiple versions and formats available to pre-order here. It’s a shame that Throb, whose guitar will be all over these songs, isn’t around to enjoy the release of the songs as originally recorded.

Road Block

Sometimes it’s only proper Jamaican dub from the mid 70s that really fills that hole, that provides the basslines and the rhythms and the s p a c e. And then you realise you must have Augustus Pablo’s melodica snaking around on top. And King Tubby at the controls. And all is good.

Road Block

Road Block was on 1974’s Ital Dub and was written by Bob Marley and Aston Barrett, a version of The Wailers’ Rebel Music. Here’s the whole album for your Saturday morning skank. It won’t help you get much done but you’ll have a good time doing very little while this plays.