dubstars Various Artists - Dubstars Volume 1: From Dub to Disco and Disco to Dub

Tracklist

  1. Terence Trent D`Arby - Sign Your Name (RMX by Lee "Scratch" Perry)
  2. Grace Jones - She Lost Control (Dub Version)
  3. Simply Red - Picture Book In Dub (Mick Hucknall & Adrian Sherwood RMX)
  4. Manu Chao - Politik Kills (Dennis Bovell Dub Vocal Remix feat. LKJ )
  5. Tony Joe White - Rainy Night in Georgia (Boozoo Bajou´s Georgia Dub)
  6. Stereo MC´s - Elevate My Mind (Dub Version)
  7. Nusfrat Fateh Ali Khan - Mustt Mustt (Massive Attack - Duck Pond Dub)
  8. Brian Eno & David Byrne - The Jezebel Spirit
  9. Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime
  10. Will Powers - Adventures In Success: Dub Copy
  11. New Order - Blue Monday (Andrea Mix by Jam )
  12. Cabaret Voltaire - Here To Go (Little Dub by Francoise Kervorkian)
  13. Paul Weller - Kosmos (SX Dub 2000)

Release Details

LABEL : ECHO BEACH
DATE : September 13, 2008
FORMAT : CD / DIGITAL
CATALOGUE : Echo Beach CD069
(13 Tracks - 77 Minutes playtime)

Listen

Various Artists - Dubstars Volume 1: From Dub to Disco and Disco to Dub

September 13, 2008

Although there is no doubt that dub originates from the small Caribbean island of Jamaica, there are many different versions about the exact moment of its invention. Here's one of them: One afternoon, producer Lee "Scratch" Perry was dozing off at the beach, adjusting his internal antennae in the direction of the Beteigeuze, from where he was receiving quite interesting signals. Just as he was mentally reassembling these sounds to a deep riddim, a coconut fell from a tree, hitting him directly on the head. This created an astonishing echo in his skull that distorted the received frequencies to a highly psychedelic effect. Fascinated, he returned to the studio in order to recreate the effect by means of a simple delay unit and a two-track tape machine. In later days, he rarely talked about the event, and even if he did, nobody ever knew exactly which location he meant by mentioning a certain "Echo Beach". But maybe the crown of invention belongs to King Tubby - in more than one way the opposite of Lee Perry. While The Mighty Upsetter's m.o. as a producer was intuitive and erratic to the verge of chaos, King Tubby was well organized, neat and canny. He was a gifted engineer and knew every circuit of his self-improved or custom-built machinery like the back of his hand. Even before he started working with multi-track recording gear, he had installed filters and delay units on his Hometown Hi-fi Sound System, creating a sound of unrivaled clarity and depth. But he never thought about recording these sound experiments until one day in the studio he muted the vocal track of a recording he was working on as a disc-cutter for purely monitoring reasons. After a few bars of pumping bass, he dubbed the vocals back in, creating an effect of tension/release he found interesting enough to cut on an acetate dub plate, which he immediately tested at a dance that night. The rest is history. But wait - maybe this history had already begun in 1967, when sound-system operator Ruddie Redwood, also known as Mr. Midnight, who received exclusive dub plates from notorious Trojan-CEO Duke Reid, one day was handed a 7" of The Paragons' "On The Beach" (!), on which, by pure accident, the vocal track was omitted, leaving just the rhythm sections basic work. At the dance that night, Mr. Midnight played both discs, the full song and its instrumental version "back to back", thereby manually inventing the "discomix". When the vocal-free song dropped in, the crowd - as one voice - sang along to the record and demanded one rewind after the other. That was the beginning of versioning.

All these events wouldn't bear more than regional significance, had the Jamaicans not become busy travelers - mostly due to the bitter poverty their country suffered from, pre- and post-independence. Florida, just a few miles north, has always been a destination for seasonal labor (and record shopping, too. After WWII, the queen's country, for which many Jamaicans fought as members of the RAF and the navy, became the promised land of choice. 1948 saw the first arrival of Jamaican immigrants aboard the SS Windrush from Kingston, JA, in Tilbury, UK. 10 years later, 125.000 passport-holding members of the Commonwealth from the West Indies lived in England. Today, the big communities in Birmingham, Bristol, and London are matched by those of Toronto, Atlanta, and New York in terms of size and virility. And as it happens, whenever more than two Jamaicans come together, some kind of sound system culture is likely to come into being. The influence of this specific form of entertainment through records and really big speakers is well known. Kool Herc, a founding father of hip-hop, is a born Jamaican, while at the same time, Don Letts, a 2nd generation immigrant, and, coincidentally, the son of a sound system operator, taught punk rockers how to do the reggae at London's Roxy Club. Consequently, The Clash drew on the late Mikey Dread's help to create the dubby soundscapes of "Sandinista", and Generation X released the first ever dub version of a punk song (s.a. Wild Dub - Dread Meets Punkrocker Downtown, Select Cuts 2017). These incidents were, of course, predated by the popularity of ska and rocksteady, the early Jamaican R&B-derivates among British mods and skinheads who chose imported 45s as a soundtrack to their all-nighters. And then there was one particular case of parallel galaxies overlap, unplanned, unprecedented, queer and unintentional but yes, groovy, and it happened in a disco. The DJ idols of early disco days were young, white, often Italian-American kids, such as Loft-founder David Mancuso, Francis Grasso, Steve D'Aquisto and Studio 54 resident Nicky Siano. From Funk to West Coast-Rock and, later, even European experimental electronica, they scanned records for they most dynamic, grooviest tracks, catering them to an ethnically mixed, and for a good - and definitely the fiercest partying - part homosexual crowd. But most important in the selection were the beat-heavy parts which - by way of synchronizing the respective speed of the two vinyls - could be combined to a new, spontaneous re-composition of recorded music. From here it was just a question of time before these DJs went into the studio to re-create these enthusiastically celebrated sonic stimuli on wax. With scissors and duck duct tape, they edited their custom made versions, and some of them, like Arthur Russel and Francois Kevorkian, improved these mixes with echo, delay, phasers and filters, all for the benefit of dance floor bliss. And by doing that, in terms of the relationship between performer and audience, they caught up with Ruddy Redwood, Lee Perry and King Tubby, who, of course, never knew different.

And so the invention of the 12-inch single not only revolutionized the standards of playing time and sound depth, but it also marked a point of strange cross-cultural synchronicity. While in Jamaica it became fashionable to press discs on which a vocal and a dub are cut back to back to form an 8-minute "discomix", DJs in New York introduced the floor-friendly "dub version", the longer, funkier, and mix-friendlier instrumental of a given hit single. It wasn't long before, out of sheer opportunism and for marketing reasons, major companies jumped on the bandwagon, and soon every maxi single from stars like Madonna and Glora Estefan down to one-hit wonders and wannabes as Gazebo or CC Catch, came with a dub mix - most of the time a simple minded karaoke version without any aesthetic surplus. But then there were dub versions that did not lack the spirit of adventure and ambition to live up to the standards that were set back in Jamaica by the vast sonic experiment today known as dub. And this is where it gets interesting.

Why not start with Terence Trent d'Arby, a multi-instrumentalist and gifted singer who was unfortunate enough to start his career at a peak point, though this was hardly due to a lack of talent, but rather of business skills. And he definitely had some insights in dub science. To the informed listener, the baby's cries are enough to identify this rework of "Sign You Name" as a Lee Perry version, released on the 12" single by the same name. Back in these days it was hip for trendy British and American musicians to give their production a genuine Black Ark-Sound signature, and Island boss Chris Blackwell, a white Jamaican by birth, was happy enough to establish contact with Lee Perry, the studio's legendary shrewd engineer - at least until the day he was outed as a vampire on Perry's single "Judgement Inna Babylon". Blackwell then turned to the rhythm expertise of the Riddim Twins Sly & Robbie to produce records which, as Grace Jones' versions of "My Jamaican Guy" and "She's Lost Control" (which you can hear here) also received some heavy dub treatments. Ironically, the latter song is based on an original composition by a band whose sonic signature writer Simon Reynolds regarded as the whitest sound possible: Manchester's Joy Division, which, after the tragic death of their singer, later became New Order, and will play an important role later; but first back to Grace Jones. At Blackwell's compass point studio in the Bahamas, this in no way traditional Jamaican singer followed a good Jamaican tradition by cutting versions of popular songs stemming from a multitude of origins, ranging from David Bowie/Iggy Pop ("Nightclubbing"), Mute founder Daniel Miller ("Warm Leatherette"), and soul legend Bill Withers ("Use Me"). Among other compass point highlights are recordings by the mega-cool Kid Creole and the Coconuts, but also rarities as this handclap-driven dub version of "Adventures of success" by Will Powers. Here you have a treatment of hi-hats and crash-ash-ash-ash-cymbals, reminiscent of King Tubby's, as they fade away into space echo, and some remarkable reverse-punches in the coda. And then there was "Genius of Love", much adored (and much sampled) by the Afro-American community, but created by white art students under the name of Tom Tom Club. The Club is a Talking Heads spin-off, in which Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz paid respect to the self-personified combination which you can find on a King Tubby b-side (and of course gave a name to an entire dubby genre later to be created by UK sound systems): drum & bass. On the Talkin Heads' album "Remain In Light", this polymetric foundation collided with the experiences the Heads' head David Byrne had with co-producers Brian Eno and John Hassel while recording the seminal "My Life In A Bush Of Ghosts": Using the voices of American Pentecostal baptists and exorcists as well as religious singing from the Lebanon and Egypt, they dubbed themselves into a narcissistically globalized fever. The percussion tracks of "Jezebel's Dream" provide a Pan-Afro-American sign on the wall, which, on "Remain In Light" was turned to a cubistic mural by an extreme use of the mixing board as an instrument. "Once In a Lifetime" is based on an edgy Afro beat and melts down to a hellish cocktail of potent sensimilla, tranquilizers and crystal meth. This riddim is a challenge to the daring dub meister, but here it is, once again, the glorious original.

Meanwhile in England. In the steel town Sheffield, soon to be the birthplace of Warp records, Cabaret Voltaire was founded in 1973. Under the influence of Dada, collage techniques and the cut-up experiments by Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs, Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Allinder und Chris Watson embarked on a journey toward the negative side of rock'n'roll, which, by the mid-eighties, led them to dub. On-U-Sound's Adrian Sherwood was the producer of the single "Here To Go", but the remix was done in a disco style by Francois Kevorkian. We meet Sherwood at the desk again, doing a re-reading of - mind the gap! - Simpley Red's "Picture Book" which was published as a b-side to the hit single "Holding Back The Years". He obviously doesn't dare to completely suffocate the golden-throated redlock. Instead he creates a dialogue between voice and harmonics by punching them in and out of the track in turn while majestic horns hover over the ballad-like riddim. Mick Hucknall does not have to prove his love for reggae: Even if in the beginning Blood & Fire was nothing but a tax write-off by Simpley Red's management, it soon proved to be an immeasurable service to producers and customers alike as a re-discoverer and re-issuer of roots reggae, which would otherwise have been lost to the world. And according to Michael Winterbottom's well-informed homage to Madchester, "24 Hour Party People", Hucknall was present at the legendary Sex Pistols Gig in Manchester where we also find the later members of Joy Division. Cut to the enthusiastic masses, these newly initiated shall move in no more than ten year's time - with one tragic exception. Yes, we're talking the big stars here, and therefore, a band that in its time managed to cut the bestselling (and worst-profiting) 12" ever shall not remain undubbed. New Order's guitarist cum singer Bernard Sumner delivers the lines of "Blue Monday" with a postindustrial coldness, which is comfortably wrapped in a warm riddim. When a few years later Manchester became an epicenter of Rave, the city experienced a brief and unlikely union of working class and indie kids with a type of music that has inherited disco's principles and during exile in Chicago was nurtured and developed by the likes of Frankie Knuckes and Larry Levan, who started to call it House. Under the influence of Ecstacy, this strange and musically fascinating liaison definitely owes its share to some hidden duppies in the machines. Enter Andy Weatherall, a former mod promoted from DJ to producer. He hired Trojan-informed dub-admirer and ex-P.I.L. bassist Jah Wobble to synthesize a dub symphony in two parts from the remains of Primal Scream's "Higher than The Sun." Weatherall and Woble represent two perfect examples for the massive influence, which early Jamaican imports had on British working class youth. So it might have been a rare but not surprising move when ex-Jam, ex-Style Council singer and model mod Paul Weller made contact with state-of-the-art dub on the b-side of "Hung Up". A razor sharp guitar riff, a blessed bass line and the radical use of high-pitched mini-moog propelled "Kosmos" to many DJs' favorite "last track" - the dub to end all other tunes. To date Dubmatix has released 5 CDs and has been involved on 17 additional releases remixing and collaborating along with several compilations released across Europe, North America and Japan.

At around this time, thanks to their hit single "Connected", the Stereo MCs were already stars. It was the hip-hop band everybody loved, and with "33, 45, 78" they had built a monument for the DJ's weapon of choice. Being children of Brixton, there was no escape from the vibe of sound systems, a fact they proved with sparse instrumentals and dubs, mainly issued as b-sides, though an instrumental 12-inch EP on G Street, on which, by the way, they sampled the first bars from Byrne/Eno's "Regiment", is widely regarded as their dope beat masterpiece. Still, dub versions of "Ground Level" or "Elevate Your Mind", which is presented here, unfold their very own qualities: Slowed down by hip-hop's coolness and at the same time driven by the hysteria of house, it draws its psychic impact from rather subtle maneuvers, like slowly letting the backup choir come up, applying more and more pressure until everyone agrees that we have to get, hm, well: higher. And what the Stereos are for Brixton, Massive Attack clearly are for Bristol: The essence, the signature, the yesternow, in which past, present and future, black and white and all creolizations inbetween, melt down to a sound, which, after years as the Wild Bunch Sound System, they successfully managed to cut on disc - the seminal "Blue Lines." The sources for this slo-mo-sampledelia lie mainly in the west - the US and Jamaica. But with their "Duck Pond Remix" of the late qawwali-master Nusrath Fateh Ali Khan, they turned out to be quite capable sonic diplomats when it came to dealing with the east, too, creating an early classic of the lonely planet groove that later led to the rise of global players such as Manu Chao. As a member of successful French band Mano Negra, he had already realized that reggae, along with hip-hop, had turned into a globally valid riddim-currency. Consequently, he incorporated elements of reggae and ska into his own musical horizon, which spans from the Americas via the Caribbean deep into the Mediterranean. Mano Negra's biggest hit, "King Kong Five", had a master dub version on the flip side, and the re-rooting of Manu's solo work "Politics Kill" is executed by no less than master basser and key figure of UK reggae, Dennis Bovell and the godfather of British Dub Poetry, Linton Kwesi Johnson himself.

And here we are, getting closer and closer to the present. Records have been recorded, released, re-sold and digitalized, re-issued, uploaded for download, disappeared into obscurity or been completely forgotten. Communities that were once alive have disintegrated, while postmodern tribes have spread all over the planet, networking. Licenses are protected, catalogues sold over, masters are gambled, and rights sold out, history is written and is busily writing itself. But still, tea-time in Europe is sunrise in America; Boozoo Bajou, a production team from Nuremberg, reaches backwards through time and hands a digital umbrella to Tony Joe White's soulful "Rainy Night in Georgia" The archive is growing, version after version, with revamps, bootlegs, remixes, mash-ups, re-edits and copyright-defying white labels from dubstep to Baltimore - the ensuing chapters are already being written.