Review: The always excellently go slow and tropical sounds of Big Crown now look to Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band for covers of two classics. Up first is Grace Jones' nightclub classic "My Jamaican Guy" while on the flip is Erykah Badu's tribute to the legendary J Dilla, "The Healer". Both retain the essence of the original but come with loose hand claps, shimmering steel drums that bring coastal breezes, sand and sun into the equation and leave you laying horizontal. These are fine interpretations of top notch source material.
Review: Eastern Roots have built up a small but well formed discography since debuting 2012. It was in 2018 that this particular wax first landed and is now made available again during these red hot days of summer 2020. "Signs Of The Times" is a playful and mysterious jam which is in no hurry to go anywhere, instead looping the same flute lines up top and natty chords over hot-stepping drums. A meandering lead does eventually join the party and only serves to heighten to the trip. On the flip, two different versions strip things back in brain frying and dubbed out ways.
Review: Vivian Jackson's "Conquering Lion" is a bona fide roots classic often thought as of a cornerstone of the genre. It is superbly spiritual music from a higher plane that will uplift your soul whilst also awakening your brain. It features harmonies supplied by The Ralph Brothers with keys that are always there, nagging away in beautiful fashion. As well as the full vocal on the a-side, Kind Tubby steps up for a huge dub on the flip that encourages you to utterly let go and one which dub techno fans will know has been reworked by Steve O'Sullivan to Miller effect .
Review: This expansive EP gathers together some archival tracks - some previously unreleased - from a trio of UK dub and reggae stalwarts. The A-side is all about Tena Stelin's 1992 collaboration with dub mixer Centry, "Clean Up The World" - a soulful digital reggae workout that was first featured on the pair's 1992 album "Sun & Moon". Here the original comes accompanied by two previously unheard Centry reworks, including the wonderfully heavy and delay laden "Dubplate Mix". Over on side B we're treated to three versions of Chazbo's attractive dub number "Lightning & Thunder". While the solo-laden original is cool, it's the two supremely deep and weighty dub mixes that really float our boat.
Review: For their latest release, Jah Fingers has dipped into the digital catalogue of long-running Abi Shanti and Iration Steppas favourite TNT Roots. Both tracks showcased here were first featured on the British producer's "Raw Dubplate Warrior Style" CD-R way back in 2010. A-side "Elohim" is a particularly cosmic and spiritual take on digi-dub, with spacey electronic motifs and exotic synth sounds echoing away atop a slow and low bassline and head-nodding drums. Over on the flip, "Verse II" is a heavier and more dubbed-out affair where delay-laden keyboard riffs and similarly sci-fi sounds echo across another killer bassline and hypnotic beat.
Review: While Nat Birchall is naturally best known for his jazz work, he's no stranger to the world of dub and reggae. In fact, "Tradition Disc In Dub" is his second full-length collaboration with roots reggae musician, producer and mixer Al Breadwinner (the first, "Sounds Almighty", dropped in 2018). It's a little more spaced-out than its predecessor, with both Birchall and Breadwinner emphasizing weighty riddims, echoing instrumentation (sax, flute, organ etc.) and the kind of analogue effects that marked out the golden age of dub. In fact, the "golden age" reference is particularly relevant, because while there's plenty of subtle variety on show throughout, it's closer in tone to King Tubby and Lee 'Scratch' Perry's 1970s work than, say, Mad Professor or Iration Steppas. More importantly, it's also superb.