A Plain Man’s Guide To Dub (And Other Burning Issues)
The sound of now, dub, has been growing in Jamaica over the last two years until suddenly it has become the roots music of the moment.
Put simply, dub is the result of an engineer fiddling about with the tapes of an already finished record, and using all the faders, echo and phasing at his command, creating something totally different.
Thus he can cut the bass in and out, suddenly stop one instrument in a flurry of repeating echo, phase the cymbals until they put your teeth on edge, and make ghostly voices appear for isolated phrases.
More often than not, the records which are turned into dubs are big hits in their own right, and it’s not uncommon for several different dubs to be made of them.
The first example of the technique was possibly Andy Capp’s ‘Pop-A-Top’ in the late ‘60s, an instrumental the precise playing of which foxed many until they sussed that in fact the instrumental tracks were being manipulated after the recording was done.
The technique then passed through the straight Version stage, when most singles had just the backing track as flip, until the sound system DJs, who recorded their own ranting over many Versions, wanted to create something that was even more personal out of someone else’s work.
They made their own skank records by fading the original singer’s voice in and out of their own voice-overs. Now even the DJs have faded somewhat, as the engineers are currently king!
Indeed, it was King Tubby who recently stirred everyone up with his ‘King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grassroots Of Dub’ album. His latest is the very even in quality ‘The Dub Master’ (Grounation GROL 502), which is full of relaxing dubs all dominated by booming bass patterns.
Top DJ Big Youth gets the best of both worlds by using great dubs behind his voice-overs, and also features many straight instrumental dubs on his album ‘Dread Locks Dread’ (Klik KLP 9001). Continue reading “January 3, 1976: dub reggae special, Glenn Miller, Cliff Nobles, The Who, Tamiko Jones”