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The 10 essential classic DUB albums.

01 Linton Kwesi Johnson


LKJ in Dub (Island, 1980)

 

Linton Kwesi Johnson, the renowned dub poet, made history in the late 70s with his incisive lyrics criticizing racist society. Dennis Bovell, the band’s bassist and leader, who is also one of the main British reggae/dub producers, reinvented two of LKJ’s previous works. He transformed these songs, sonically sculpting them into pulsating rhythms suitable for the dance floor. Johnson’s voice, although largely absent, occasionally resonates through the dub.

 

02 King Tubby


The Dub Master Presents Dub From The Roots (Total Sounds, 1974)

 

This album, along with its counterpart, “Presents the Roots of Dub”, showcases “The Aggrovators”, a prominent studio band that worked with the late producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. Noel Hawks, who penned Lee’s biography, notes that Bunny’s two dub albums display his new style of ‘flyers’ rhythms. They are adorned with fabulous cover photos of the King wearing his crown and played a pivotal role in promoting King Tubby’s name and the concept of dub among music lovers in Jamaica and globally.

 

03 Keith Hudson


Pick a Dub (Klik, 1974)

 

Keith Hudson, a dentist from the ghetto, pursued a successful career as a producer while trying to make his mark as a singer. However, his 1974 masterpiece is likely to be his most memorable work. Collaborating with Aston and Carlton Barrett (bassist and drummer for The Wailers), and incorporating snippets of voice and melodica, Hudson created grand, raw, and vibrant dub mixes that made “Pick a Dub” one of the first independent dub albums.

 

04 Augustus Pablo


King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown (Island, 1976)

 

The late Pablo, a renowned melodica player in reggae, crafted the main melody of this album in collaboration with the notable dub engineer, King Tubby, in 1974. As a single, it made such a significant impact that it gave birth to the ‘rockers’ rhythm. Throughout the album, Tubby works his magic on the mixing console, while Pablo’s melodica adds a beautiful melancholy.

 

05 Prince Far-I & The Arabs


Dub to Africa (Hitrun, 1979)

 

For this recording, Far-I enlisted the collaboration of drummer Style Scott and bassist Flabba Holt, thereby laying the groundwork for one of the great studio bands, the Roots Radics. With a clean and powerful dub and Far-I’s simple toasts introducing each track, the result is an album with a crystal-clear sound.

 

06 Scientist


Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires (Greensleeves, 1981)

 

This album is the result of the reinterpretation of ten songs produced by Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes, the leading Jamaican producer of the 80s, remixed by the Scientist. It stands out as one of the most influential dub sets of the early 80s. The Scientist added a unique touch, giving each track a horror movie title, and the reverberating and intense sound gives the album an appropriately sinister tone.

 

07 The Upsetters


Blackboard Jungle Dub (Upsetter, 1973)


This pioneering set was the first dub album by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, also known as Upsetter, a name he also gave to his studio band, The Upsetters. This work helped shape the dub genre. Characterized by Perry’s eccentricity and the sound of cows (among many other sounds) echoing in the background, this album presents a dense music and an innovative sound, oscillating between the paranoid and the humorous. “Totally lethal,” as described by David Katz, a dub DJ and biographer of Perry.

 

08 The Upsetters


Super Ape (Island, 1976)

 

In 1976, Lee Perry was at the height of his career and, in his Black Ark studio, he created ten intense, yet enigmatic dubs, full of melody. The album’s comic book-style cover contributed to its popularity upon release. The album has never lost its sonic appeal.

 

09 Yabby U


King Tubby’s Prophecy of Dub (Prophets, 1976)

 

The late Vivian Jackson, despite being partially incapacitated by malnutrition, did not let this affect his voice or his songwriting talent. Known as Yabby U, he produced some notable records, often in close collaboration with King Tubby in the studio. In this work, Tubby breaks down Yabby’s songs to the rhythmic essence, highlighting snippets of guitar and trumpet.

 

10 Vários Artistas


Front Line Dub (Virgin, 2014)

 

This remarkable compilation, spread across two CDs with a total of 40 songs, brings together dubs released by Virgin Records on their reggae label, Front Line, in the late 70s. It was a time when Jamaican music was at its peak and dub mixes were paving the way for innovative sonic adventures. The compilation includes tracks from renowned artists such as Poet & The Roots, The Twinkle Brothers, Sly Dunbar, among others.

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