I bought this album for a quid at Bermondsey Market, South London over twenty years ago! Played it lots but knew very little of its origins until it got re-released this year courtesy of its original label, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut, of all places, and is run by an unusual man who goes by the name of “Silver Camel" !
*** A bit scratchy in places but like it says on eBay - doesn't effect the play!
Ranking Dread - Ranking Dread In Dub
Silver Camel LP #SCLP 002
Record date : 1982
***Side A with Sly & Robbie , mix by King Tubby
A2...No More Waiting
A4...Jump Up Dub
***Side B with Roots Radics , mix by Scientist
B1...Give Them Dub
B2...Dub It Star
B4...Yes Yes Yes Dub
B5...Dub It On Yah
Producer : Ranking Dread
Mixing Engineer : King Tubby & Scientist
Backing Band : The Roots Radics
Drums : Sly Dunbar
Bass : Robbie Shakespeare
Recording : Channel One (Kingston, JA)
Overdubs Recording : Black Star (London, UK)
Reviewed by Sam Sweet
Although this underheard album comes from a year (1982) from which dub purists often shy, it is perfectly split between two of the idiom’s most-revered giants—King Tubby, the premier dub practitioner of the golden age, mans side one, with rhythms by Sly and Robbie, while the King’s foremost apprentice, Scientist (only 22 at the time of this release, already with seven years of experience under his belt), mans side two, with rhythms by Roots Radics. Right brain, left brain; East, West—whatever your analogy, the even split between these two closely related mixers lends itself to deeper interpretation.
Despite the vintage on these releases, the music doesn’t display the digi-dancehall feel you’d expect given the year, although it doesn’t sound entirely like ‘70s butter either. Scientist takes a moment from battling Pac-Man, Space Invaders, the Vampires and others to bring the more conventional of the two sides. Mixing is never less than mighty and sophisticated, though. “19000 Dub” leaves Ranking Dread bibble-babbling over the barrel-spare echo of a drum kit and some hovering bass. “Dub It Star” drops out for breaks of gurgling organ-guitar fills. The closing two tracks “Yes Yes Yes Dub” and “Dub It On Yah” are lean and fierce; like tougher, meaner cousins of the mixes these same rhythms got back in the 1970s.
As good as the Scientist side is here, the real draw is Tubby’s mixes, particularly track one, “Bom Dub.” Although dub had always flirted with dissonance, Tubby brings a bass and keyboard figure together on “Bom Dub” that sound like metal rubbing metal. The trademark sound of this mix is the phaser effect Tubby devised for the keyboard; it’s soaked in a phaser effect that makes it sound metallic and squeaky. There’s no telling what electronic guts Tubby’s hands were massaging to get this sound from a machine in 1982. He reworked all his electronics himself. “Bom Dub” is what punk dub sounds like. It’s a little like Metal Box, only more warped, because Tubby doing punk dub is stranger than punks doing dub.
In my view, Tubby pushed his experimentation further in the ‘80s, continually challenging himself and reassessing his technique; considering the sonic architectures he’d already completed by 1982, it is astounding that he was still drawing entirely new blueprints in the 1980s. More of his work from this period needs to be reissued.
Although it was recorded in Jamaica by the pre-eminent 1970s Jamaican bands, there is something cold and lonely in these tracks. Even though they don’t feel as exiled and wintry as Bullwackie’s Bronx mixes, all the sounds and tones here have an isolated, chilly air on them. It’s a bareness, a bleakness, not found in dubs from the 1970s, or in those contemporary to this album’s release.
In Julien Temple’s The Filth and the Fury, reggae fanatic John Lydon tells stories of driving across a strange America in a big bus on a doomed tour in the middle of January, looking out the windows with his headphones on; this is the kind of music you imagine him listening to.