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Once Upon A Time At King Tubby's

Once Upon A Time At King Tubby's

Once Upon A Time At King Tubby's

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A spiteful (and surreal) war of words.

After several conventional collection and album reissues, Pressure Sounds have done something a bit different. 'Once Upon A Time At King Tubby’s' compiles the legendary feud between deejays I Roy and Prince Jazzbo, on a series of deceptively carefree sounding 45s. All but one were mixed at the famous 18 Dromilly Avenue between 1974 and 75 for producer Bunny Striker Lee.

At first, the banter seems fairly good natured. I Roy puts a new slant on Johnny Clarke’s vocal Do You Love Me, asking “Jazzbo do you hate I?” before adding “If you were a jukebox I wouldn’t put a dime in to your slot”. (He also calls Bunny Lee “a flea” suggesting this may have been a bit of off the cuff fun between friends which escalated when they realised its money making potential.) Jazzbo then fires back with Straight To I Roy’s Head, questioning his opponent’s originality (“imitate the great U Roy”) and warning him “You set up yourself”.

On the Channel One A side, Padlock, I Roy again plays on his precursor’s words (“Set down yourself”) accusing “Princess Jazzbo” of giving counterfeit US dollars to “Downbeat” (presumably Coxsone Dodd). Throughout the exchange Roy’s insults tend to be based on what sound like real incidents whereas Jazzbo’s Gal Boy I Roy, on Cornell Campbell’s Stars rhythm, charges I Roy with the unlikely practice of wearing makeup and women’s clothes.

I Roy swaps his usual spar in the feud, Dirty Harry for Prince Far I on Jazzbo Have Fe Run - which centres around another alleged incident where Jazzbo was chased by a friend of Big Youth and hid behind a bus. Interestingly, Jazzbo mentions the event during Gal Boy I Roy, indicating the order in which the two sides’ (and possibly others) were released has been reversed.

Then, just as the repartee is dying down, Derrick Morgan, most probably at the behest of Bunny, jumps in. His I Roy The Chinee Commer Round refers to I Roy’s recording of Padlock at the Chinese-Jamaican Hoo Kim brothers’ Channel One studio. Again I Roy’s pirating of U Roy is mentioned in contrast to the more “original” sound of Jazzbo. I Roy then slams all three of his opponents with Straight To Derrick Morgan’s Head (AKA Hard Man Fi Dead).

Once Upon A Time At King Tubby’s assumes its audience will have a keen interest in reggae history, and is therefore best suited to the die hard Jamaican music fan. That said, it’s a pleasure to hear the narrative unfold across the fifteen tracks, whose cheerful Aggrovators and Revolutionaries rhythms are perfect backings for such a spiteful (and surreal) war of words.

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