Yeah…it was really VERSION those days – it wasn’t dub yet beca’ it was jus’ the riddim. One day an incident: Ruddy’s (sound system operator Ruddy Redwood) was cutting dub, an when it started, Smithy(recording engineer Byron Smith) look like ‘im start bring on the voice and Ruddy’s say: no, make it run and I’m take the whole backing track off it, Im say, alright, run it again, and put in the voice. “im didnt do no more like that yet
The DJ then played a vocal version seperated from the instrumental version at a dance. It was very popular
The next day now, im start it and just bring in the tune, bring in a little voice and drop it out again…yes. Ruddy use to handle that part himself, drop in the voice and drop it out again. All Smithy do was cut the dub….Description of “DUB” by Producer Bunny Lee
Let’s just get this out in the open; Public Image Limited’s Metal Box (1979) or Second Edition , as it was known to me at the time, is the single most important “rock” album, in terms of influence, to come along since it’s release. (That is post-1979/80). Think about it. Only the Velvet Underground’s White Light / White Heat dares to approach it’s greatnesses. And that was 1968. OK, let’s throw in The Night Tripper’s Gris Gris and Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain as dark horse candidates. Released in 1968 and 1971, respectively. So, it is settled. Metal Box = Most Important or Influencial Album. These are polarizing statements, of course. And then there is always someone shouting about that damn “Bollocks” album. Fair enough. Let us take a closer look.
John Lydon’s Public Image Limited accomplished something that Johnny Rotten’s Sex Pistols could never manage. That is, PIL‘s music had a scared-the-piss–out-of-you quality that Bollocks just was not capable of delivering. For all of the tough talk, posturing and claims of greatness, Bollocks never convinced with it’s revoluntionary rhetoric. The songs are just too orthodox. The production is just too big. And the band was just too manufactured to be a serious threat. But PIL was different. PIL was subversive at their core. The band, the image…the sound sought to circumvent the lie at the heart of the music industry. And for many of us, it had a sound we had never heard before. Thick, dark, cinematic and experimental …Dub. Metal Box openned the door to the possibilities of music and all that it can teach us.
Keith Hudson‘s “Playing It Cool & Playing It Right” was originally released in 1981 on Hudson‘s own, Joint International label. Finally giving Hudson the artistic freedom he wanted to move deeper into the experimental sound of the Jamaican underground. Remember, by 1981 dub was an established art form and musical style. The dub sound inhabiting a space and time that was a completely and uniquely the creation of the island’s best reggae producers (Lee Perry, King Tubby…and Keith Hudson). And unlike other forms of experimental music, Dub used a organic, lo-fi approach the chemistry of sound. Fusing together a complex world of nocturnal rhythms and scattered, narcotic vocals.
Hudson plays a unique role in the production and evolution of dub. Choosing not to drive his music with guitars or vocals or rhythms. Instead, Hudson lays back with the mix. Never sounding overcooked or cluttered with studio trickery. The thick width of sound is the bedrock from which Hudson’s subterranean enviroment can grows and communicate. Molten hot and sexual, one moment. Then playful, personel or melancholic with a twist in the sound. Formula Dub is a prime example. The sentimental, broken chords of a piano haunting the background of the music as the heavy pulse of rhythm slowly overtakes track. Each moment of sound surrendering to the next. Every change sending the music in different directions.
Keith Hudson‘s Playing it Cool is a rare gift. Thoughtful and provative with a minimalist approach. Exploring the experimental and avant-garde without losing the soul of the music. Hudson’s musical vision is never blurred or overwhelmed or detached by the tools of his experimentation. And here an important point needs to be made; Playing it Cool is a beautiful record. Which may seem a strange and out-of-place observation. There is a shimmering love and, yes, a romance at the heart of the music. A touching reminder that there is much to treasure within the broken soul of an artist or a lover. Much is lurking under the surface. However intangible these factor may appear, we should rage against the surrender of that which makes us most human.