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Dub Plate Style by Delroy Wilson

Dub Plate Style by Delroy Wilson

Dub Plate Style by Delroy Wilson

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The late Delroy Wilson had a reputation for strong melodic reggae vocals from the 1960s through to the 1990s.

The late Delroy Wilson had a reputation for strong melodic reggae vocals from the 1960s through to the 1990s. On this new release from Pressure Sounds we find those fine vocals set alongside the production techniques of Bunny Lee and the mixing skills of Prince Jammy. Recorded at King Tubby’s studio, this collection - originally released in 1978 on the Third World label under the unappetising title of ’20 Golden Hits’ - is exceptional in its combination of Wilson’s vocals and Jammy’s dub mixes. What’s so special about that? While there is nothing extraordinary about a generation of deejays declaiming over the top of a dub mix, finding a complete and heartfelt vocal track backed up by a strong dub mix is unusual in the extreme. It’s a combination that never really entrenched itself in reggae and soon digital dancehall would come to dominate. But here, from this particular moment in the development of reggae, we find a striking collection of tracks.

The mixes are firmly aimed at the sound system audience and are short on studio gimmicks but strong on picking out each part of the rhythm and reducing it to its core components with the powerful bass holding it together throughout.

There are twenty tracks in all, including many titles that will be familiar from earlier Wilson recordings. Can I Change My Mind is driven along by the drum/echo sound that Jammy was perfecting here, while Ms Grace (a previously unremarkable song, remembered perhaps from the hit by the Tymes) is transformed into something fascinating by a loping dub shuffle. Better Must Come is a classic reggae track. The structure of some of the songs, such as Stick by Me, is that of old-fashioned 60s soul and R and B put through the (re)mix of Prince Jammy and the resulting sound is unique. Joe Liges – a version of Wilson’s first hit from the early 60s, written by Lee Perry - is a curious and brilliant combination of underlying ska rhythm and trademark brass solo alongside a powerful dub bass and drums mix and a melodic vocal track.

The album closes strongly with Do Good (Everyone Will Be Judged) with Jammy seemingly itching to dub it up even more. But, like the rest of the album, it manages to remain understated, its rhythm taken down to the basics in order to showcase the vocals of Delroy Wilson in the way they should always have been heard.

© July 2009 - Ranking John for reggaemusic.org.uk

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