In the ’70s and ’80s I became a bonker-zonker about dub reggae. Yeah, those were the years I ganja’d up and there’s no question that dub is one music style Rasta weed twists around from the way you hear it straight. But higher and mightier was the fundamental that the UPSETTER himself, Lee Perry, could run in and outta my ears as the sun rose, set, and rolled sideways. You’re either on his otherworld wavelength, or you are not — Colly Jesus Christ. (I have around 50 LPs and CDs by him.)
I was wrong about two articles of faith: dub was a permanently expanding wave of the future; Lee Perry was only the start of a long line of genius dubbers. Now, it went on for a lawng tahm — DJ Shadow kicked it up to a level I’d been expecting — but sounds pretty wrapped up now. So if I had to pick one — well, two — which would I pick?
Second — Burning Spear, Garvey’s Ghost
First — what I’m playing tonight, Produced and Directed by Upsetter Lee Perry, Upsetters 14 Dub Blackboard Jungle (2004, Auralux).
I have three full versions of this — a vinyl copy that looks plenty suspiciously like a boot, the Dub Triptych (2007) release on Trojan, and this lamentably hard-to-find version, which has the sound that makes the little stoner left inside me clap wildly.
It’s a strange record, alright. One of the first (1973) all-dub albums (limited 300-copy release JA only). The first two tracks are versions of the same instrumental (“Black Panta”) that throw down the challenge: I defy you to get tired of these two treatments back-to-back, ever. Damnation, I never have. Bass lines and horn lines shifts are impeccable. It’s like seeing a love object and an anti-matter version of the same love object and finding both of them equally beautiful. All I can say after that is that the Auralux version gets the dominance of the bass figures right — quite strong, not overwhelming — that other versions muff(le).
Only problems — CD casing rather weird, hard to open. The three “discovered” tracks included are enjoyable but far more trivial.