My entry point into dub was not via the usual route, probably because I have never really enjoyed reggae music despite being a fan of many different genres. I was always slightly annoyed by this because I pride myself on being worldly with my musical tastes and in giving all music a chance whatever its style. For example, I own a copy of Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed – some people refuse to acknowledge this as music at all (!) so given these circumstances I think that makes my attitude fairly liberal. As a vinyl only collector of music I had always enjoyed the aesthetics of dub LP’s – if you stick with us here, you will come to see what I mean; the sleeve art of dub reggae albums are often worth the retail price alone. I frequently used to view the album sleeves pinned to the wall in record shops; I particularly remember the cartoon cover offerings by Scientist (more on him later). What fascinated me most was that by looking at the art work it gave you, the buyer, almost no insight into what was laid down in those grooves and part of me really enjoyed that mystery. You knew though, that whatever it was, it was going to be kind of left field, rebellious or experimental.
One Saturday afternoon in 2005, when I was desperate to go home with a piece of vinyl under my arm I chose a dub album. It was a random selection really; the album was Yabby You meets Sly and Robbie at the mixing lab. It was fairly cheap and had a cool cover. This album is not hailed a classic, but I had no intelligence of what I should be buying at the time. I knew of Sly and Robbie from their work with Grace Jones and knew they were highly respected. It was much later on when I came to appreciate the genius of Vivian Jackson (Yabby You). I got home after sitting down with a pint and reading the sleeve notes and slipped it on my record deck. The drums made it sound more modern than I expected, there was lots of snare which I really liked. There was plenty of echo and effects too which made it sound really sinister in places. The stripped down approach to this music was tight and focused. With reggae in general I often felt that the songs were a little bit twee – this was more serious and the driving bass lines gave it a feeling of respectability. On occasion it could be quite funky, particularly the track I.L.A dub which is still a personal favourite. There is no date on the sleeve but I found out that it was recorded in 1979 – to me though it sounds more modern than that, say circa 1983, mainly because the effects sound a little more digital in places. To date this is still my favourite Sly and Robbie offering – you never see it on any of those top 10 lists though, and in a way I think I prefer that. After this purchase I actually didn’t buy anymore dub until 2012 and I shall explain why next time. In the meantime though give this a listen it still sounds great.