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Pleasure Dub: Tommy McCook and the Supersonics

Pleasure Dub: Tommy McCook and the Supersonics

Pleasure Dub: Tommy McCook and the Supersonics

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The first time that Pressure Sounds has been able to get hold of Treasure Isle material and the results speak for themselves.

From Pressure Sounds - masters in the rediscovery of lost reggae classics - comes this new release from the archives of Treasure Isle records. Duke Reid built his Treasure Isle studio on Bond Street, Kingston, in 1964. When Tommy McCook (former sax player in the Skatalites) moved over to Treasure Isle he built up a formidable house style and a serious reputation with resident musicians including the venerable Ernest Ranglin on guitar and Clifton Jackson on bass. The part played by the label and studio, especially in mid-60s rocksteady, is not generally recognised. Here we have the results of how Duke Reid’s nephew, Errol Brown, turned these pivotal 60s recordings into groundbreaking 70s dubs. This is a history of a formative period of reggae which equals the better known stories around, say, Lee Perry or Joe Gibbs. Pleasure Dub is the first time that Pressure Sounds has been able to get hold of Treasure Isle material and the results speak for themselves.

Pleasure DubThe album opens with the decidedly early sound of ‘Tracking Dub’ (a version of Phyllis Dillon’s ‘The Right Track’) and soon revisits the Paragons’ familiar ‘Tide is High’ in the shape of ‘Dub with Strings’, together with their ‘Riding on a High and Windy Way’ versioned here as ‘Ride de Dub’. The overall pattern is of a basic rhythm version - the complete instrumental backing track – with added echo and reverb alongside traces of the original vocals. In contrast to the characteristic sound of dub in the late 70s and early 80s, the versions here are not driven solely by the bass and there is little of the drastic fading in and out of individual instruments that would soon come to dominate dub. But the signs are here, for instance in the excellent and simple track ‘The Attorney’, hinting at the deconstruction process that would soon be the hallmark of dub. Amongst the other tracks, ‘Silver Hour’ provides a rather surprising opportunity to experience ‘In the Midnight Hour’ inna dub style, sounding dated now but reminding us of the direct influence of American soul and R and B on early reggae. On most of the original twelve tracks the echo-laden drum, mixed into the background, holds the rhythm together like the sound of something being hammered out relentlessly in a distant forge. But it’s joyful music too. It’s different from the received dub sound of King Tubby, Niney and Lee Perry: less familiar, and more interesting for that. The six bonus tracks added to the CD release include two versions – ‘I Shave the Barber’ and ‘Barbering’ – of the well known and much-dubbed ‘Ali Baba’.

This unusual and engaging mix of early reggae rocksteady sounds from Treasure Isle documents the music as it was emerging from ska and looking toward to what it would become as dub came into its own.

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

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