Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Inside Zion Gate...

King Tubby & Augustus Pablo - King Tubby's Borderline Dub
The Aggrovators - A Rougher Version
Horace Andy & The Aggrovators - A Better Version

Tubby was shot dead in 1989 in what is accepted to have been a botched robbery, the straight man felled by the crooked at the last. Even the death can be viewed in the righteous terms of so much of the music this man was responsible for.

And straight he was - shoes always clean, swapping creased notes for nice new ones at the bank, no smoking allowed in the studio in case it messed up the equipment. No weed allowed ever. And he studied electronics manuals. No walking backwards hitting the ground with a hammer like Lee Scratch Perry.

Of course, much of Tubby's best work sounds completely zammed out. Go figure.

The Aesop Rock posting over at Pilgrim’s Progress rightly praises the care paid to the word in the new hip hop underground. There's a different but equal game being played in the work of Tubby. He was the King of true Dub, taking an existing 45 and mixing it into something completely new. Vocals were sifted like silt in order to turn up words of gold, the dialogue made luminous by setting it in endless spring reverb. Great thunder crashes were coaxed out of the machine as if to underline the downright righteous nature of the process.

It's ironic that, even though the lead singer is no longer the centre of the proceedings, more often than not the words that are left have far greater resonance than they had previously. So their power is renewed.

Choosing a favourite Tubby track is like trying to choose a favourite leaf on a particularly beautiful tree. And it's a tribute to the greatness of Dub and to it's greatest exponent that I haven't really touched the subject at all.

Expect more later - Lee Scratch Perry, Niney The Observer.

Buy - Essential Dub
Visit - Blood And Fire


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