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Dub Specialist (Various Artists)

Dub Specialist (Various Artists)

Dub Specialist (Various Artists)

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The underexposed dub side of Studio One gets another go.

Heartbeat Records first released this disc about a dozen years ago under the title 'Dub Specialist: 17 Dub Shots From Studio One'. Despite being an excellent addition to Heartbeat’s Studio One catalog, I didn’t think it got the attention it deserved and apparently the label felt the same. Here it is again, one track longer and sounding as wicked as the first time.

Clement Dodd’s Studio One didn’t put out much in the way of dub collections, though the continually versioned riddims recorded there certainly were prime candidates for it. Such was evident on Heartbeat’s Version Dread CD from 2006, which is a good companion piece to Dub Specialist (as is the Downbeat the Ruler instrumental collection). Keep in mind that the word “dub” in the title does not denote the same sort of mind-blowing sonic creations you’ll hear at the hands of, say, King Tubby or Lee Perry.

The effects on these tracks are minimal and fairly rudimentary. There’s some echo, delay, reverb and such, but the emphasis here is on the tightness and familiarity of the original arrangements, which stay mainly intact and forward-moving. The drums and bass don’t drop out only to return seconds later, but instead hold down the foundation as guitars, keyboards, horns and percussion hitch rides on the riddim for varying lengths of time. And you have to listen very hard for traces of vocals, which have a truly spectral feel when audible. You could in fact call some of these tracks instrumentals rather than dubs and not be far wrong, though most (notably the nyabinghi-laden “Depth Charge”) are unmistakably dub in execution and spirit.

The works of some of the finest players ever to grace Studio One (including Jackie Mittoo, Roland Alphonso, the Sound Dimension and the Soul Vendors) are here to remind us all that while Dodd nurtured many legendary vocal talents, those who wielded the instruments were also a big part of it all.

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