King Tubby Meets the Reggae Masters
King Tubby Meets The Reggae Masters
Label: Jetstar Records | Format: CD-LP-DR | Street date: 2001 | Website label
- Wailing Soul – Budwah
- Anthony Johnson – Life Is Not Easy
- Black Uhuru – Hard Time aka Wood For My Fire
- Barrington Levy – The Word Of Jah
- Tabby Diamonds – Eyes Of Africa
- Jacob Miller – Dread Ina Babylon
- Johnnie Clarke – Can’t Stop Me
- Dennis Brown – Look What You Doing aka Open Your Eyes
- Horace Andy – Free Africa
- Linval Thompson – Feed The Children
- Freddie McKay – Inna Me Yard
- Bob Marley – Mr. Chatter Box
- General Plough – More Love
- Barry Brown – Burial
I often listen to music on my way back and forth to my work. I listen to lot of reggae on the Spotify platform. Of course it all sounds much better on vinyl but times are changing and this is very convenient. I still buy vinyl since I started enjoying this magical music since the age of 12 (1982). I discovered this Jet Star compilation album KING TUBBY MEETS THE MASTERS just recently. It was a new release on Spotify but after listening I already knew some of the songs off course and realized it was issued already on CD and LP back in 2001. Must have cruelly overlooked it…
Tubby At The Controls
The 14 strong track list here features truly only Masters. With the likes of Wailers, Dennis Brown, Johnny Clarke and Jacob Miller things can’t go wrong, and yes it is a great compilation. All done obviously with the late King Tubby at the controls. What strikes me is that on many “King Tubby Meets..” albums it is mostly dub or the mixing work of King Tubby what stands out. Not on this album. These are songs where the singers are in the lead. The mix, the backing tracks are solid but clean, in control and perfect in balance to serve the singers message.
good versus evil
We kick off with the Wailing Souls Budwah but maybe misspelled here. It was originally released as Busnah on the 1981 Wailing Souls Album Fire House Rock. Wailing Souls are one of my favorite vocal groups that made some of the best roots harmony albums, most on the Greensleeves label. This track is about the Busnah whose time has come. About good versus evil. Roots Radics in top shape here and mixed of course at King Tubbys. Anthony Johnson follows with the great Life is not Easy. Johnson spent a lot of time at the Rasta camp on Selassie Drive, where he met Les Clarke and Balvin Fials, with whom he formed the vocal trio Mystic I. The group recorded three tracks for Lee “Scratch” Perry at his Black Ark studio, with Forward With Jah Orthodox released by Perry as a single on his Black Art label. On going solo, he recorded for several of the top Jamaican producers, most at Channel One Studios, including Linval Thompson (Africa and here incuded Life is Not Easy at King Tubbys).
solid roots reggae
Black Uhuru is next with Hard Time. This was recorded around the time of the album Love Crisis/Black Sounds of Freedom. It first was released as a 10inch with a dubversion and on the flipside the track Willow Tree. Black Uhuru had some personnel change in the years. The most successful years came later on the Island Label when they joined arms with Sly and Robbie as Michael Rose, Puma Jones and Ducky Simpson. On this track, which was not featured on the Love Crisis/Black Sounds of Freedom album, the lineup is Michael Rose, Errol Nelson and Ducky Simpson. This track was recorded in 1977. Barrington Levy delivers a very strong and moody track called The Word of JAH. This is about that never JAH word can be taken away from people even if you burn JAH Bible. We all know Barrington from the Dancehall era but this is a solid roots reggae track recorded around 1982 released originally as a 7 inch and also a Linval Thompson production.
Steady drum and bass
The next track Eyes of Africa is brilliant. Here we have a Tabby Diamonds solo track from the lead singer of the still touring roots reggae trio MIGHTY DIAMONDS. His voice is very recognizable and I believe he would have done well as a solo artist as well. The Mighty Diamonds have made some of the best reggae roots music from early seventies on with their fantastic The Right Time album. This track is Tabby singing alongside a sweet trumpet making the song this great. Very well done track. Steady drum and bass and a joyful jazzy guitar picking and free styling around. Tabby’s singing is fierce here. The late Jacob Miller is delivering Dread inna Babylon. For sure it is Augustus Pablo who is doing the percussion bells in the back. Rockers Uptown style here. It must have been a joy recording this because you can hear the backing vocals laughing sometimes. The music is clean, only drum bass and a organ. Another Linval Thomson production. The dub on the original 7 inch is called Thompson Sound.
clean and crisp
What follows next is even more awesome. Johnny Clarke – Can’t Stop Me. A very soulful track by Johnny Clarke. The singing is so strong and emotional. Maybe the best track I have ever heard from Mr. Clarke. He is coming strong, all be aware, he is coming strong. They can’t stop him. Probably the song is about him entering the music scene to conquer. There are some great horns here. And also here the mix is clean and crisp so all attention has to go to the singing. Great work. When you think “how great can it get, it will be fillers from here…”. Dennis Brown enters your ears with a majestic piece of work Look what you’re Doing . The so called Prince of Reggae delivers a powerful track, originally released in 1975 on the Pioneer Label. Lots of hurt in his lyrics, a bass line that pumps and thumbs and drums that sounds like the Fatman Riddim section here maybe.
rich musical extravaganza
Producer of many of the songs steps forward himself here: Linval Thompson with Feed the Children. A straightforward roots track with a very steady tambourine percussion (Skully Simms?). This is a typical mid seventies steppers track which sounds familiar but is a great example of the greatness of reggae music: two chord reggae simple but effective. Roots veteran Freddie McKay comes forward with Inna Mi Yard. This is musically a very rich musical extravaganza. The musicians can do their thing and experiment. The drums are pounding in between and the percussion goes mad here. McKay keeps his cool here about the days of Slavery. It sounds like Tubby asked for more percussion to mix in and out in the dub but he kept all in for this version and it sounds great. Master Bob Marley himself is featured also, and that is not very often on these type of compilation. The Wailers sing the classic Mr. Chatterbox. Who talks too much he has to go. A late 60’s track before he would take over the world. Classic Wailers rocksteady.
gwaan plough man
The track More Love is credited to the obscure General Plough. He got his name from Peter Tosh who named him that with an ironic twist. “Well that name came later on when The Wailers moved from Trenchtown to Hope Road (thanks to Chris Blackwell). I was then the youngest element of their camp. I used to be there and learning from them. One day they were building a fence in the back yard. People like Familyman, Ranglin, Frayta (that man had shaking hands and mimics but he was a wicked guitarist) were around. I was between 7 and 9 and I grabbed a big metal bar to dig a hole like I saw them doing. Tosh said “wha – the likkle man can plough the ground – so gwaan plough man”. I never did it before and the metal was so heavy that I just fell down with the bar upon me. Tosh gave me a hand and started to call me plough from that day ironically. At the same time he had much affection for me. I asked him why he kept on calling me plough after a while: he told me “because you re just like that :..”. This song was also used on the album Bad Boy Skanking by Yellowman and Fathead. Classic reggae trivia here.
The album ends with the great Barry Brown who covers the Wailers/Tosh song Burial. Another version of this track can be found on the album Sings the Wailers by Bunny Wailer. Rasta don’t deal with dead so don’t go to funerals. And so we come to an end here. What a collection what a rich music. Thanks mr Tubby.