Agony Shorthand

Thursday, August 26, 2004

In the late 70s/early 80s these heavyweight bout-style "dub fights" were all the rage, usually teaming one set of Kingston studio wizards vs. their counterparts a few blocks away in a hyped-up contest to see who could crank out the fattest drop-outs, hardest grooves and most mind-boggling dub trickery, all in the context of one 40-minute LP. The battles I've heard all feature an announcer between each track who "prepares" the listening audience for the full-on dub onslaught about to commence in an inimitable Jamaican pidgin English patois. This one, featuring what truly WERE the two heavyweight studios of the late 70s locked in mortal dub combat spread over 9 terrific tracks, is about as good as it gets. I'm still trying to get myself schooled on all the heavy hitters of the day, but I know that crazy dub magician SCIENTIST is all over the place here, as is Tubby and someone called "Crucial Bunny". The winner? I'm going to give all my cards to the Channel One crew this time -- their "Introducing Crucial Bunny From Channel One", "Be Channel One Guest" and "Stricktly Rockers From Channel One" are packed with surprise speaker fades, deep-haze horn echoes and an amazing proclivity to create a real gone, gone, gone mood that is the keystone of any dub worthy of the name. I guess now that I've heard so much of KING TUBBY's work from this era (and it just keeps pouring forth every year on innumerable reissue CDs), his moves are almost telegraphed to the point to where even I know what's going to come after musical Tab A is inserted into musical Slot B. I'm sure even this guy had to be phoning it in a lot of his days on the job -- lord knows you and I do at work, right? Of course every Tubby track on this brief document is great, but I think the Channel One studio was a little bit hungrier for the chalice this outing. I'm anxious to hear if any subsequent bouts were staged between these giants; for now, this is one dub CD that's on high rotation when the Hinman family peace pipe makes its way around the living room.