Pick A Dub
Keith Hudson
17 North Parade
CD / Dbl Vinyl LP / Digital Release
December 16, 2016

Track list
  1. Pick A Dub
  2. Black Heart
  3. Michael Talbot Affair
  4. Don't Move
  5. Blood Brother
  6. Dreaded Than
  7. In The Rain
  8. Part 1-2 Dubwise
  9. Black Right
  10. Satia
  11. I'm All Right
  12. Depth Charge
  13. Augustus Pablo - Fat Baby
  14. Fight On Fight On
  15. Delroy Wilson - Place In Africa (Addis Ababa)
  16. Be Still
  17. Wild Fire
  18. In The Rain (Vocal)
  19. Horace Andy - Don't Think About Me
  20. Still Water
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Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
Ominously known as "The Dark Prince of Reggae", Keith Hudson was born into a musical family in Kingston, Jamaica in 1946. His musical education began as he worked as a sort of roadie for Skatalite and Jamaican trombone king Don Drummond. By age 21, Hudson, who had been trained as a dentist, sunk his earnings into his own record label, Inbidimts, and had a hit with Ken Boothe's recording of "Old Fashioned Way". Not long after this chart success, the suddenly hot Hudson was producing some of the biggest names (and soon-to-be biggest names) in reggae - John Holt, Delroy Wilson, Alton Ellis, and the great toasters U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone, all of whom benefited from what would be Hudson's trademark production style: groove-centered, bass/drum-dominated, lean and mean stripped-down riddims. With Big Youth he cut "S 90 Skank" and it became one of the deejay's biggest hits.

In 1974 he came up with one of the first dub albums, "Pick A Dub". By the mid-'70s, Hudson began releasing more solo work, hitting paydirt from the start with his 1974 debut, "Entering The Dragon" and his intense second record, "Flesh Of My Skin" for Brent Clarke's Tottenham based Atra imprint. This 1974 set was the first real solo flowering of Hudson as "The Dark Prince of Reggae", the overriding atmosphere was sombre and brooding, but also righteous and proud. In 1976, Hudson relocated to New York City. His album "Rasta Communication" (1978), which had been preceded by its issue on dub as "Brand", was well received by a wider audience and is considered a roots reggae classic. It was followed by "Nuh Skin Up Dub" and its vocal counterpart "From One Extreme to Another" in 1979. He reverted to his classic riddims for his next to last album "Playing It Cool" in 1981, recording new vocals on heavily overdubbed mixes of the earlier tunes. He released one final album in 1982, "Steaming Jungle", which attracted little attention. Keith Hudson succumbed to lung cancer in 1984, at age 38, robbing reggae of one its greatest, most adventurous, and unheralded producers and performers.

The 1974 "Pick A Dub" set gets a glorious re-release from 17 North Parade, VP Records' subsidiary label, as a double vinyl LP and cd both containing no less than 8 extra tracks, vocal cuts as well as instrumental/dub outtakes. Excellent liner notes are from Harry Wise. The album is now regarded as a ground-breaking set, widely considered to have been the first deliberately thematic dub album, with tracks specifically mixed in the dub style for the purpose of appearing together on an LP. The album was recorded with musicians Carlton and Aston Barrett on drums and bass, Earl "Chinna" Smith on guitar, and melodica virtuoso Augustus Pablo. Further backing assistance from The Soul Syndicate band. Snippets of vocal tracks included material by Keith Hudson himself, Horace Andy and Big Youth. It was originally released in 1974 on the Mamba label prior to release by Atra. In 1994, it was reissued by Blood & Fire.

The riddims on this album are stripped down to the bare essentials, breathtaking drum & bass excursions, keyboard and guitar fading in and out and vocal snippets flying in and out to create an overwhelming listening experience. The title track is the dub counterpart of Big Youth's "S 90 Skank". Keith also did a vocal cut on the riddim called "We Will Make It Up". The riddim returns on the album as "Fat Baby", Augustus Pablo's haunting melodica version. Boom tune! "Black Heart" is a bass driven masterpiece with "Chinna" Smith's guitar interjecting accents. The riddim was used for Keith Hudson's vocal tune "Fight On, Fight On", here included as a bonus track. "Michael Talbot Affair" is an interpretation of "House Of The Rising Sun", probably best known for its version from Eric Burdon & The Animals. The song was also done by Delroy Wilson as "Addis Ababa" (aka "Place In Africa") and is one of the bonus tracks. The bonus track "Be Still" is an unreleased Keith Hudson track, it rides Prince Buster's "Blackhead Chinaman" riddim. The dub workout is called "Don't Move".

"Blood Brother" is injected with in and out coming horn lines and some cheesy guitar riffs. The uptempo riddim of "Dreader Than" can be heard on several Keith Hudson tunes; "Shoulder To Shoulder", "Five More Minutes Of Your Time" and "Wild Fire", which is included on this set as well. There are three different mixes of "In The Rain" featured here. The original is a chart hitting soul tune by the US based group The Dramatics. Both dub mixes are quality drum & bass workouts, the second one "Part 1-2 Dubwise" being the more adventurous version. Keith does a straight vocal version of the song as well. Next come two classic Abyssinians riddims. "Black Right" ("Declaration Of Rights") and "Satia" ("Satta Amasa Gana") were recorded specifically for this album because of their popularity in the island's sound systems scene. Horace Andy's echoing vocals are the intro to "I'm All Right", the dub reconstruction (lots of vocal parts here!) of his 1973 tune "Don't Think About Me", also included here! Killer tune! When the Motown group The Four Tops recorded "Still Water" in 1970 they hardly expected it would be used as the backbone for the dub workout "Depth Charge". Keith Hudson's unreleased vocal version of the song closes the album.

Re-release of the year!