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A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub | CHATTY MOUTH : REGGAE, RANTS AND REASONING

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CHATTY MOUTH : REGGAE, RANTS AND REASONING
Jamaican Music
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub
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A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:38pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:38pm
A MUSICAL REVOLUTION
To fully appreciate the growth and development of the dub phenomenon, it may be helpful to
know a little of the history and some of the techniques involved in recording popular music.
Ever since Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, and the sound of music could be stored,
copied and made commercially available, the processes involved had remained generally the
same. Cylinders, then gramophone records, had been made by recording the artists and
musicians directly on to wax or acetate discs, which were then sent for processing (and
admin
Administrator manufacture) with little or no further ado - whichever performance or take had been chosen
as the master was what the public heard when it was released. When American and British
engineers worked on captured German Magnetophon recorders after the Second World War
the modern tape recorder was developed, and during the fifties it became more and more
commonplace for commercial music to be recorded onto magnetic tape rather than directly to
disc.
With the resulting improvement in dynamic range and frequency response it became more
practical to over-dub extra instrumental or vocal parts by transferring the original
performance from one tape machine to another while blending in the overdubbed part, which
would have been played or sung live at the same time.
Posts: 13

Even though the use of tape unlocked the imaginations of the more pioneering pop and rock
& roll producers (tape could be edited, speeded up or slowed down, played backwards, used
for echo effects, etc), the overdubbing process would only allow for a few layers of sound to
be added before the quality became diminished to a very noticable degree, and in any case all
of these recordings ended up in mono because the tape heads contained just one track.
However, guitar genius Les Paul, who had already pioneered the art of overdubbing while
still using acetate discs and was now using tape machines for advanced concepts such as
phasing, echo and so on, had built the worlds first eight-track tape recorder and was using it
to record a stunning series of hit records. It wasnt long before the record industry recognised
the importance of the new technology and by the early fifties Ampex were supplying the
leading American studios with two-track (stereo) machines.

admin
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:39pm
Administrator Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:39pm
The new two-track recorders unlocked many doors for the new breed of music makers, and
the next decade would bring even more advances in sound engineering as machines with
three, four and then eight tracks were commercially developed. Producers and engineers
found new ways to record music, forever trying to create a sound that was cleaner, bigger,
brighter and punchier than their competitors, and in doing so made their contributions to the
records just as important (in some cases more so!) than that of the artists themselves. Many
producers, engineers and studios developed their own individual signature sounds, and by
the end of the sixties most pop fans could recognise the work of the more outstanding
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producers and labels just by the sound that came out of their transistor radios, irrespective of
who was singing.

Posts: 13

Visionary producers and engineers such as Phil Spector, Shadow Morton, Tom Dowd at
Atlantic, and the in-house teams at independent label-owned studios such as Chess, Stax, and
of course Motown led American pop, r&b and soul music through the sixties, while in
Britain George Martin and the Beatles, and of course the legendary Joe Meek pushed the
boundaries of British pop.
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:39pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:39pm
MEANWHILE.
In late fifties Jamaica, the islands fledgling music industry concentrated on recording local
music forms (mento, calypso and folk) and licensing radio-friendly pop (and some Jazz,
Latin and R&B) from America. The first man to build his own rudimentary recording studio
was Stanley Motta, whose main lines of business were photography, hiring out Public
Address systems, and selling records and electrical goods from his shops in Half Way Tree
and downtown Kingstons Harbour Street.

Described as a room with one mike and a piano, Mottas studio was situated on Hanover
Street, and in 1951, with an eye to the tourist trade as well as the local market, he began to
produce a series of calypso and mento tunes which he would sent to the UK for
manufacturing prior to being shipped back for sale in Jamaica on his own MRS (Mottas
Recording Studio) label. These early productions were recorded direct to a 78rpm disc cutter,
admin
and the studio played its part in the creation of Jamaican R&B when Derrick Harriotts
Administrator original dub plate of Lollipop Girl was made here in 1959, as well as some of Laurel
Aitkens first tunes.
By 1960 or thereabouts Motta had given up the record business, apparently to concentrate on
his other business (and political) interests.

Posts: 13

Another pioneer was Ken Khouri, who had acquired a 78rpm disc cutting lathe in 1949 and
had spent a number of years recording people at garden parties, fairs and at home. After a
few unsuccessful attempts at licensing some calypso tracks to American companies, he too
used a UK manufacturer to press his recording of Mary Had A Little Lamb (by Hubert
Porter). Although its generally acknowledged that relatively few households in Jamaica
possessed a record player at that time, its claimed that he quickly sold out of his initial order
of 5000 copies.
Khouri realised the potential of the record business, and set up his own Federal studio and
pressing plant in King St. where he would record and press locally-made tunes (on the
Kalypso label) as well as licensed-in US records (Khouri had the Mercury franchise, for
instance). He was rapidly followed by other manufacturers such as the Tewari Brothers
Caribbean Recording Co. on Orange St. (whose labels included Caribou and DownBeat) and
Tropical.
Other pioneering local producers included Chins, who released 78s from their Radio Store
in Church St. and Alec Dury of The Times Store of King St. who issued an album of locallyrecorded calypsos to sell in the furniture stores record department.
The late forties had also seen the birth of that uniquely Jamaican phenomenon - the sound
system, and its growth during the fifties became integrally linked with the record business
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:40pm

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Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:40pm


The story of the sound system pioneers is reasonably well documented elsewhere, although
no-one seems to be able to agree on whether Goodies, or Count Nick The Champ, or Tom
The Great Sebastian were actually the first. What is clear is that as well as providing an
economical, and more up-to-date, alternative to live musicians, the sounds soon generated a
whole scene which was to subvert the islands musical and financial hierarchy. By being
closer, if not actually always from, the street, the sound men embodied the loose mix of
music-lover/ hustler/ entrepreneur which would be the model for the Jamaican music
business for years to come.
By starting from scratch, they had no pre-conceptions or rules, and in the fiercely
competitive atmosphere of the early dancehall days actually managed to devise their own.
Suffice to say that not only did these men (and others like them) invent the concept of the
admin
'mobile disco', but as the search for 'new' tunes progressed they also pre-dated the UK's
Administrator northern soul', 'rare groove' and 'deep funk' movements by decades.
Count Matchuki, the pioneering spinner from Tom The Great Sebastians sound, claimed to
have started it all one night by taking the unusual step of playing the B-sides of Toms record
collection. Apparently the crowd, hearing these songs for the first time, responded
enthusiastically, believing that their favourite sound had unearthed a treasure trove of
previously unknown tunes.

Posts: 13

It has to be said, at this late stage, that the story of Matchukis almost accidental innovation
may well be apocryphal, but what is true is that the Jamaican sound men did establish the
now common practices of hiding label details, re-titling tunes to confuse the competition,
and travelling thousands of miles (and/ or paying huge amounts of money) to obtain records
that for one reason or another may have been little more than 'local' hits (if not complete
flops) in their American home towns several years earlier.
Then, as now, if the record had the right beat, it was played, and even today there are dozens
of 'blues' tunes from the early sound system days that are revered as classics in Jamaican
circles, while remaining completely unknown to all but the most ardent R&B collectors.
Having initiated, and then encouraged, a cult following of knowledgeable, demanding and
ferociously loyal supporters, the sound men hit a snag - to put it simply, by the late fifties the
Americans had more or less stopped making traditional R&B, and were concentrating on a
newer, faster, more commercial (and dare we say whiter) variant. The emerging 'rock &roll'
beat was not entirely to Jamaica's taste - the tempos were too frantic and the feel not cool
enough for Kingston's hipsters, and many of these records were being rejected in favour of
the older style R&B - an interesting reversal of the UK's latter-day white orientated black
music revival scenes, where the favoured records are almost invariably up-tempo!
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:40pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:40pm
Although it was possible to obtain a reasonable selection of R&B, or jazz, or pop records in
Jamaica, this was not enough to satisfy the islands hardcore blues fans. The sound men,
already used to jealously guarding their key tunes by re-naming records and scratching out
the labels (a practice that lasted for decades) were now having to pay even higher prices for
the top tunes - specialists like Jack Taylor (who ran a store on Orange Street), Savoy Riley
(whose premises were in Water Lane), and the seafaring Admiral Cosmic were asking and getting ever more ludicrous prices for rare 78s, while other sound men (like the up &
coming Duke Reid or the young Sir Coxsone) were finding fewer and fewer worthwhile
tunes on their trips to the States. There was also a small but significant number of pirated
records in circulation white label 78s that had been copied from the original rare US copies
and locally pressed.

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The story of how Duke Reid obtained his own copy of Willis Jacksons Later For Gator Coxsones long-time signature tune and then played it to him (or rather at him) after
teasing him for days is the stuff of legend, and as the record hounds studied the American
admin
catalogues and deletion lists, so more and more of the old exclusives were exposed and
Administrator their power diminished. No sound man could hope to maintain his position playing tunes that
anyone else could play, so it wasnt long before the more enterprising sound system
operators realised that they would have to make their own Rhythm & Blues, right there in
Jamaica.

Posts: 13

Many of the aspiring young singers who were trying to make a name for themselves at the
amateur talent shows were also sound system fans and couldnt wait to hear their own voices
blasting out of their favourite sounds speakers, along with Wynonie Harris, Smiley Lewis
and their other musical heroes. There were also a great many big bands, jazz combos and
hotel groups with musicians who were just as keen to display their skills. From the sound
mans point of view, the best thing about it was the fact that this new move guaranteed the
exclusivity of a tune - after all if youve made it, no-one else can possibly play it unless you
give them a copy on acetate (or they steal one!).
In 1959, when Jamaican producers first began to record the local talent, shops such as
Stanley Mottas, Chins Radio, and the smaller concerns such as Hi-Q, Savoy, Downbeat,
Edwards, Clock Tower and the Caribbean Distributing Company were all advertising the
Big Tunes, the Latest Blues on both 78s and the new 45s, including such popular
classics as Bobby Days Over & Over, Frankie Fords Sea Cruise and Wilbert Harrisons
Kansas City. Apart from a few calypso records by Count Owen, Lord Tanamo, various
steel bands and One Night In Mexico by Laurel Aitken & His Afro-Cuban Band, locally
recorded tunes are not mentioned in these ads, with the notable exception of Aitkens early
Jamaican Blues Boogie Rock, released by Caribbean Records.
Although Stanley Motta may have recorded a few R&B tunes in his studio, by 1960 he had
given up, in contrast to Ken Khouri, who had by now sold his old disc-cutter and had bought
a professional one-track tape machine. Many of Jamaicas early R&B (and ska) classics were
made at Federal - his only studio competition was the radio station (RJR), where you could
hire a room and record to one-track tape, with Graham Goodall and a young Andy Capp at
the controls.
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:40pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:40pm
As the sixties progressed the number of Jamaican studios grew - Federal and RJR were
followed by JBC (the other radio station), Studio 1, West Indies Recording (later Dynamics),
Treasure Isle, and then Joe Gibbs and Randys, all competing with each other for record
sales (with their own productions) and (to a lesser extent) bookings for independent
producers who didnt have their own facilities. Most of the earlier set-ups had progressed
from one-track (mono) recorders to two-track by the mid-sixties, and then on to the four
track by the turn of the decade. Of course, these recorders had already been superceded in the
States by eight-track machines, reinforcing the pattern of Jamaicas studio technology
lagging behind Americas by at least five, if not ten years.

admin
From its inception, the whole Jamaican recording ethos had been built on a combination of
Administrator economy and best use of available time and talent - in other words, the band played, the
singers sang, and the engineer recorded the best balance he could get in the shortest time
possible. The complex techniques being employed in English and American studios did not
seem to be thought relevant to the raw, R&B and jazz-influenced sound of ska, and what you
bought on a record really was what had been played in the studio, mistakes and all. Even
basic tape editing techniques (such as splicing the first part of one take to the second part of
another to achieve a more perfect final product) were virtually unknown in Jamaica although Sid Bucknor claims that he edited out a mistake in the middle of The Wailers
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Rude Boy and kept it from being a forgotten B-side - but even he admits this was almost a
one-off).

Posts: 13

Similarly, pop gimmicks like phasing and flanging were never experimented with (although
there are some who claim that the off-azymuth phasing sound on some ska instrumentals is
deliberate), and with a few rare exceptions, reverb and tape delay were only used sparingly
(usually on vocals or horns). Tunes like the Ethiopians Headache, which employs groundbreaking repeat echo on the drums in the instrumental break (this was probably added live
during the recording), Cool Night by the Jamaicans and Right On Time by the Sensations
(where the rhythm tracks are treated with delay echo) and Prince Busters Rock & Shake,
where the whole rhythm section is echoed along with the spoken vocals (and whistling) were
oddities, and can hardly be said to have started a trend.
While legendary pop producers employed racks of equally legendary vintage valve effects
and processing units to help them in their quest for the ultimate soundscape, Jamaican
engineers were still riding the vocal faders manually in the absence of compressors, and
generally getting on with the job, although not surprisingly many of the studios had at least
invested in a Pultec equaliser to beef up the bass and drum section. For the next two decades,
(if not longer!), ska, rock-steady and reggae remained, more real, more live than any
other contemporary popular music form being recorded.
Last Edit: Oct 4, 2007 at 9:41pm by admin
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:41pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:41pm
DUB - A MUSICAL REVOLUTION

Without the technology, there would be no dub, and the roots of dub really lie in the
introduction of the two-track tape recorder - up to then, studio engineers had recorded the
singers live together with the band on to the tape, and the final take (ie the performance
with the best feel, and possibly the least mistakes!) was what ended up on the record. The
modern machines allowed for music to be recorded and presented in a more natural way,
with the instruments spread in front of the listener between his two new stereophonic
speakers. The idea was that you would hear classical music as you would in the concert hall,
(with the strings on your left and the woodwinds on your right), and of course this innovation
was reflected in jazz and popular music as well. The novelty value of hearing different
admin
instruments and voices coming at you from various directions often competed with the
Administrator purists approach, and there are many examples of records that seem to have been made with
just this factor as the selling point, as the musical content is negligible.
By the mid-sixties even pop music was being mixed in stereo, although, especially when
listening now, very often the spread of the sound seems to weaken the impact of the music
which is part of the reason why these records were originally released as monophonic singles
(for club and radio play), and the stereo mixes saved for albums.

Posts: 13

Many of the earliest stereo pop recordings are not really stereo at all, but have merely
separated the backing track and the vocals, with a view to leaving the final balance till the
track is mastered as a mono single. For a record label primarily interested in producing mono
singles, this approach is a very simple and sensible one, and was picked up on by Jamaican
engineers early on. It has another advantage in that, having recorded the backing music on to
one track (with the musicians playing to an un-miced guide vocal), the proper vocals or
lead instruments - can be cleanly recorded on to the remaining track without any spill from
the backing group, and also wiped and re-recorded until a satisfactory performance is
achieved.
Many ska classics were recorded in this way (check the versions of Cry To Me Wailers,
Something Special Roland Alphonso, etc.) and by the time rock-steady had taken off,
most engineers had found that they could achieve even better separation between instruments

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and more control over the sound by splitting the session band between the two tracks of the
tape. Most of the instruments had separate microphones allocated to them, and it became
more or less standard practice to record the drums and bass on one track, while the rest of the
rhythm section (keyboards, guitars, horns, and perhaps oddly, percussion) is recorded on to
the other track. There are, of course, many exceptions to this rule, but in general thats how it
went.
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:42pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:42pm
After the backing music had been recorded, it could be balanced and mixed down on to one
track (on another two-track machine) and then voiced (or overdubbed with a lead
instrument in the case of an instrumental) often at a different session at a later date, as
before. The vocalists or musicians could still re-record until an acceptable performance was
achieved - but it did have to be a continuous take as there was no dropping-in facility on
these machines as yet.
Listening to dub versions of tunes that have been recorded in this manner (for instance, the
Studio 1 rock-steady and reggae classics re-mixed on early and mid-seventies albums such as
Ital Dub, Mellow Dub, Hi Fashion Dub, etc.) makes it easier a lot easier to grasp the concept.
The instruments appear (and disappear) in their respective groups, according to the way in
which they have been recorded, and its quite often possible to hear the spill from
instruments that have been cut out (ie horns, guitars and piano will often be picked up on the
drum mics, and sometimes you will faintly hear the singers guide vocal or even a musician
signalling by shouting! - the arrival of a bridge or middle eight section).
In the few cases of dub tracks with vocals that appear on these albums, you will notice that
they do not break down into drum & bass because they are being mixed from the rhythm
/vocal two-track rather than the original d&b / keys,guitars,horns tape (which would not have
the vocal recorded on it).
These mixes are not really very far removed from the versions (as opposed to dubs)
which were introduced as B-sides in 1970 and became increasingly more common as the
versions provided space for sound system deejays to chat, and the producers saw a
convenient way of avoiding the expense and trouble of recording new songs for use as Bsides. They were usually either just the plain backing track with a few selected vocal lines, or
just the backing track on its own (a practice possibly borrowed from 60s Soul tunes like
Cliff Nobles The Horse, which became a hit in America on the strength of the B-side
admin
Administrator instrumental backing track rather than the vocal A-side).
The 1970 vintage versions were mostly mixed live while the lathe was cutting the lacquer
for the master (the mould from which finished records are made) so there are no added
effects, and any timing errors (slight or otherwise) are overlooked in the name of speed and
economy. Mastering lacquers (usually a better quality acetate dub plate disc) are
expensive, and theres no point in wasting money to replace one thats been spoilt by a
mistake no-one will ever notice!

Posts: 13

Although the versions were eventually superseded by the early dub B-sides that appeared
in 1972, mention must be made here of the earliest dub releases, which seem to have been
made as experiments in 1970 by various producers once again, while the sonic boundaries
were being pushed back, it has to be said that little notice was taken, and as is usual its far
from clear as to who was the instigator.
The most promising suspect is Lee Perry, cementing his reputation as reggaes most avantgarde if not downright eccentric producer, who released a few early dub tracks including
Tackro (a bass & drum version to Yakety Yak/ Clint Eastwood, with added talking),
and the atmospheric Kill Them All (which also pre-dated the medley craze by a couple of
years). OK Corral, an early U Roy outing, its flip-side Sit Back with Cool Sticky, and

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Bush Tea a rare Lee Perry talkover, all utilise stripped-down rhythm tracks, and to great
effect. The Upsetter was in good company around this time Duke Reid already had the
rhythm mixed for Lock Jaw, Dave Barkers Treasure Isle chart-topper, and also released a
similarly dubbed-up slice of JA funk titled Ska-Voovi with vocals by one Dorothy Reid.
He was also joined by Clancy Eccles with Phantom, an excellent early dub mix of Herb
Man from the four-track master tape possibly engineered by Andy Capp (although he has no
recollection of it at all!) Joe Gibbs entered the fray with his own cutnpaste medley News
Flash and Navado Joe (dub workouts with added organ and vocals, actually under the
supervision of a young Niney), and Lloyd Daley gave us the classy Voo Doo, the B-side of
Little Roys Hard Fighter.
Even Alvin GG Ranglin got in on the act with Jumping Dick, a dub cut to the Maytones
Serious Love, Prince Buster released a drum & bass cut to Young, Gifted & Black, while
an enterprising engineer at Dynamics Studio take your pick from Andy Capp, Carlton Lee
or Sid Bucknor - gave the treatment to the Bleechers Ease Up with Short Wave, uniquely
pre-dating Tubbys use of the boards high-pass filter.
It has to be said that few of these tunes made much of an impact on the public, and even
future engineer/ producer King Jammy, who was operating his sound at that time, has
absolutely no recollection of these tunes. Unsurprisingly, the idea of releasing records like
this was allowed to die out, at least for a couple of years.
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:44pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:44pm
As an interesting aside, there are (inevitably!) American precedents, although its clear that
these sides also made little impression on anyone. As mentioned before, there are quite a few
examples of soul records with instrumental B-sides usually just the backing track (as in
Archie Bells Tighten Up and Bill Mosss classic Sock It To Em, Soul Brother), and
admin
Administrator occasionally there are over-dubbed solo instrumentals, such as the flip to the Fantastics
Fours I Love You Madly. There are also backing tracks as separate releases (The Capitols
Cool Jerk, Jackie Lees Temptation Walk, etc.), and separately issued instrumental workouts on original backing tracks (The Double-O Soul of Sonny Stitt for instance).

Posts: 13

Perhaps the most surprising example is to be found on the B-side Part 2 of Rex Garvins
Sock It To Em JB the 1966 club soul classics flipside consists of three minutes of
madness (with plenty of repeat echo!) mixed from the eight-track master tape. Although this
James Bond-related soul anthem was probably big enough to have been released in Jamaica
(legitimately or otherwise), its unlikely that the flipsides proto-dub workout was any sort of
an influence on Jamaican engineers or producers, especially as - perhaps surprisingly - there
seems to be no trace of a local cover version.
Still less noticed were the flip-sides of the more obscure (and even earlier) Walkin By
(The Boss Four on Rim ) and Do What You Gotta Do (The Contendors on Edge) which
although not in any way as sophisticated as the above are still worthy of mention. Even the
titles (Space Walk and Moon Jerk) have a Jamaican flavour - producer Bob McGhee and
engineer Bob Gallo deserve a name-check at least for being half a decade ahead of their
time!
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:45pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:45pm
The advent of four-track recording at the end of the 60s gave engineers and producers even
more scope for clarity and choice in recording combinations. Although the habit of recording
the backing track and then mixing that on to a separate two-track tape was hard to break
(probably because records had to be mastered from a two-track), eventually the vocals
usually ended up on one of the four tracks.
Two of the most popular combinations were:

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a) Drums,bass,rhythm, horns (or organ) on separate tracks to be mixed down on to one track
of a two-track machine to be voiced (as before), or
b) Drums and bass on one track, rhythm,horns and vocals on the others - the final balance (to
admin
a two-track tape but usually a mono mix) is then taken straight from the four-track tape.
Administrator

Posts: 13

As usual this concept is made a lot clearer by actually listening to the records - nearly all of
the well-known Tubbys and Channel 1 dub mixes from the mid-seventies are good
examples, and although the addition of an extra two tracks may not seem like a huge
advantage the benefits are enormous. As well as having the ability to re-mix the music track
underneath the main vocal, the vocal and horn phrases can also be highlighted or cut in and
out of the mix, adding to the atmosphere and the musical content of the track. (Conversely, it
is a widely held opinion that many of the dub tracks mixed from later eight, sixteen or
twenty-four track tapes seem to be lacking a certain vitality, as if having all of the
instruments separated (ie. not being grouped together) has weakened the sound, and perhaps
given the mixing engineer too much to think about and too many tracks too play with!)
Although the 1972 vintage dubs were very basic, it wasnt long before engineers like
Tubbys, Errol Thompson, Coxsone Dodd, Sid Bucknor and Sylvan Morris found ways of
improving them, adapting their engineering skills to a new discipline as their timing and taste
became as important as that of any of the musicians who had actually played on the original
session. All music is about tension and release, and dub mixing is a way of manipulating an
existing musical arrangement to enhance, or even completely change the emphasis of the
highs and lows of the piece.
For instance, in reggae, where a tune is underpinned by a characteristically hypnotic, ostinato
bass line, that tune is recognisable and familiar as soon as the drum roll has led us into the
intro. In a dub mix of the same tune, the bass may be deliberately kept out for the length of
the intro (or even longer - an old sound system trick), so that when it does enter it positively
thunders in, the effect of which is heightened not only by the suspense and expectation built
up during its absence, but also by simultaneously cutting (or echoing) out the rhythm
section (by which I mean the guitars and keyboards).
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:45pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:45pm
There are other tricks which engineers use to emphasise the difference between the original
mix and the dub mix - many dub tracks start off with an audible count - probably from the
drummer or session leader which sets the tempo for the tunes and shows the rest of the
band when to come in on the next one. Its usually spliced off the front of the tape which
is why you wont hear it on the start of the original single A-side, so for the listener its
almost as though youre there in the studio at the session, especially when you hear the
musicians talking to (or cursing!) each other in the case of a bodged intro or false start!

admin
Administrator Using the mixing desks equalisation facilities (ie tone controls) can also maximise the
potential of a mix by altering the sound of the instruments during the mix or virtually cutting
the bass from a track where it is recorded along with drums or piano in the case of King
Tubbys famous studio this technique was used to great effect by treating the rhythm track
(or indeed individual instruments) with his unique big knob.

Posts: 13

This device is perhaps the classic sound of seventies dub, and still stands the test of time as
Tubbys exclusive secret weapon. The effect has variously been described as a phase
shifter and an equaliser but it is in fact a sophisticated high-pass filter, a type of tone
control designed to remove whole portions of unwanted bass frequencies from material sent
through it. The control has several notches, so that you can hear the separate frequencies
disappearing when the knob is being twisted, and a very steep filter slope, which induces the
phasing effect on the remaining material. Although the sound can be imitated to an certain
extent with graphic and parametric equalisers, the results are never as satisfying, and it

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amazes me that even to this day no-one has replicated an effect that literally breathed life
into many dead rhythms! Even more amazing is that no-one (apart from the brains behind the
aforementioned Short Wave) at Dynamic used this scintillating effect while it was there,
although Sid Bucknor did say that he had used it on percussion mics to remove extraneous
low frequency rumble which is after all what it was supposed to be used for. The big
knob not only revitalised dozens of othewise dull two-track dubs, but was also used to even
wilder effect on many four-track dubs until its demise in the mid-eighties, when it could be
heard to be very noisy and presumably beyond repair on some of the contemporary dub
output from Tubbys studio.
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:45pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:45pm
As dub grew in popularity during 72 and 73, the engineers found new ways to express
themselves, pushing back the boundaries of acceptablity as the commercial value of the new
sound was realised. Reverb, an effect originally used to create a sense of space or distance
around voices or instruments, and which had appeared rather tentatively at first, now
splashed on guitars, pianos rimshots, adding a new dimension to the music. Singers and
horn players were often made to sound as though they were performing in deep caves, and in
studios such as Tubbys where the cheaper spring reverb devices were used it wasnt
uncommon for the engineers to strike the reverb unit itself, causing thunderous explosions to
emerge from the speaker boxes. Tape delay, hitherto known mostly as a vocal effect (we all
know the rocknroll vocal echo sound) was slowed down and used on anything that
moved, with devastating results. Voices (and horns, guitars,organs, etc.) drifted eerily in and
out of mixes, creating new even more tension as the recurring notes clashed with subsequent
admin
chord changes and the cross-rhythms caused by the repeated echo jarred against the existing
Administrator beat of the drum and bass.
Of course, the new style had its detractors, and not without some grounds - many older
singers, (who had already suffered at the hands of the deejays at the beginning of the
decade), musicians and commentators saw it as a debasement of a music form they had
established through years of struggle, and of course all the usual old vs. young, Rasta vs.
Baldhead, uptown vs. downtown arguments were brought into the equation as well. The
early dub mixes really were an acquired taste for many reggae fans, while for others it went
against all their musical conditioning. In the same way that the 1940s jazz establishment
refused to take Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and the rest of the Mintons be-bop crew
seriously, so many looked upon dub as a gimmick that would hopefully fade out soon.
Posts: 13

Naturally, most of Jamaicas record producers were quick to see another way to sell records,
and soon boarded the dub bandwagon whether their hearts were really in it or not - those of
us who bought records at that time must still possess tunes that we bought strictly for the dub
on the B-side, while perhaps absolutely hating the A-side vocal! Unlike some of the other
reggae fads which had come and gone very quickly in the early seventies (medleys, bongo
versions, trombone instrumentals, etc.) the dub craze gathered momentum as producers
released whole albums of dub tracks to be purchased (at two or three or four times the
normal album price!!!) by sound systems and hardcore dub fans.

It has to be said that, in common with much of reggaes best efforts, dub came about as a
mixture of serendipity and happenstance. In the same way that no-one in Jamaica ever
entered a studio with the idea of making classic record that would be highly sought after and
regarded as a masterpiece twenty years afterwards (they were too busy trying to make
records that would sell now), no engineer ever sat down and consciously planned the
progress of dub at least not in the early stages.
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:46pm
Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:46pm
admin
People outside the reggae business still tend to think that the music was manufactured in the
Administrator same way that pop music was, and is. The idea of a reggae producer almost completely
leaving the arrangement and sound of a record completely to the artists, musicians and
engineer when it is recorded at the studio is alien to them, and the fact that some top reggae
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producers were not even present when some of their best-selling records were made is
laughable!
To further compound this situation by taking the master tape to another, cheaper studio (and
bear in mind that Tubbys was really only an over-dubbing, mixing and dub-cutting studio
not a place where rhythms were built) and then to have it mixed by another engineer who
may, or may not give it something special (usually by taking the track to pieces on the Bside!) with probably even less input form the producer is almost criminally negligent.
Posts: 13

Yet this is how dub came about the most important musical development of the late
twentieth-century was created by a handful of people who didnt know, or care what they
were doing as long it was cheap, and they liked it, and it filled up the flip-side of a 7 45!
admin
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:47pm
Administrator Post by admin on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:47pm
There you go! A great read.
Thanks to Steve and Chris!
Respect
Gordy

Posts: 13
grumpy
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 9:50pm
Stinking Bishop Post by grumpy on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:50pm
Yes, many thanks indeed and to you too, Gordon, for posting it up.

Posts: 3,275
Freddy C
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 4, 2007 at 10:00pm
Stinking Bishop Post by Freddy C on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:00pm
Thanks.

Posts: 3,141
steverice
Gorgonzola

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 5, 2007 at 7:40am


Post by steverice on Oct 5, 2007 at 7:40am
he's a good writer

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Posts: 1,875
sirgibbs
Cheddar

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 5, 2007 at 8:40am


Post by sirgibbs on Oct 5, 2007 at 8:40am
Now that was a damn good thread! cheers for putting all that up.
what a superb read.

Posts: 57
kalcidis
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Feb 27, 2008 at 8:55am
Stinking Bishop Post by kalcidis on Feb 27, 2008 at 8:55am
I just re-read this article. Superb read indeed.
Does anyone know when Chris Lane wrote this and for what?

Rub-a-dub!
Posts: 2,027
Mr Swing EasyA Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Feb 27, 2008 at 9:24am
Stinking
Post by Mr Swing Easy on Feb 27, 2008 at 9:24am
Bishop
most enlightening & very well written as has been said. sits very nicely with the opening
chapters of lloyd bradley's very fine book, bass culture.
T.

Swing Easy
High Power
Posts: 4,210
herbert

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Feb 27, 2008 at 9:31am

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Post by Guest on Feb 27, 2008 at 9:31am


You can always rely on Chris for insightful, intelligent writing on Reggae. He started writing
a Reggae column for Blues and Soul on Reggae back in '73 (or was it '72?) when only 16 or
17 and must have been the first person in the world to write intelligently about Reggae. In
those columns he used to interview visiting JA musicians and it was as a result of meeting
Lee Perry in the UK that Scratch invited Chris to stay with him and witness the birth of the
Black Ark in December '73/January '74.
kalcidis
Stinking
Bishop

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Feb 27, 2008 at 10:08am


Post by kalcidis on Feb 27, 2008 at 10:08am
Yeah, the little I've read by Chris has always been good.
By the way ... I really love your avatar. I'm a major fan of Blacula, both the soundtrack and
movie, and have even created my own likkle appreciation page for the movie (in Swedish
though);
home.swipnet.se/kalcidis/blacula/index.html

Rub-a-dub!
Posts: 2,027
Mr Swing Easy
Stinking Bishop

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Feb 27, 2008 at 3:12pm


Post by Mr Swing Easy on Feb 27, 2008 at 3:12pm
""must have been the first person in the world to write intelligently about Reggae.""
Your cue Penny...
Toby.

Swing Easy High Power


Posts: 4,210
zapatoo

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Feb 27, 2008 at 9:10pm


Post by Guest on Feb 27, 2008 at 9:10pm

herbert

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Mar 1, 2008 at 12:26pm


Post by Guest on Mar 1, 2008 at 12:26pm
Kalcidis, I'm glad you liked the avatar although it was inspired more by the Crystalites
record rather than the film, which I haven't seen. I did visit your page though and on the
strength of your recommendation really should try and see it!
The soundtrack sounds interesting; tinyurl.com/yqzuws
As an aside, the film I'd really like to see is 'Every Nigger is a Star' with soundtrack by Boris

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Gardiner.
PS Going back to your original question, I have a feeling that Chris's piece on dub was
published (in French) in Natty Dread magazine a few years back.
Last Edit: Mar 1, 2008 at 12:38pm by Guest
inyaki
Cheez Whiz

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Mar 4, 2008 at 1:49pm


Post by inyaki on Mar 4, 2008 at 1:49pm
This is the best article I have read on Dub for 30 years.
Most of the people who write about reggae are collectors of plastic and matrix numbers.
Chris Lane is the exception, one of the few people that actually knows how the recording
process takes place.

Posts: 0
kalcidis
Stinking
Bishop

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 25, 2008 at 12:20pm


Post by kalcidis on Oct 25, 2008 at 12:20pm
Just wanted to bump this thread. Was this ever published in any magazine? Also anyone that
has a mail address for Chris Lane? Would love to put this as a featured article at
Reggaepedia.

Rub-a-dub!
Posts: 2,027
steverice
Gorgonzola

A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 25, 2008 at 5:37pm


Post by steverice on Oct 25, 2008 at 5:37pm

Oct 25, 2008 at 12:20pm kalcidis said:


Just wanted to bump this thread. Was this ever published in any magazine? Also anyone that
has a mail address for Chris Lane? Would love to put this as a featured article at
Reggaepedia.
Posts: 1,875

u
check your messages
A Musical Revolution - Chris Lane On Dub Oct 26, 2008 at 10:19am
Post by Guest on Oct 26, 2008 at 10:19am

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Mar 4, 2008 at 1:49pm inyaki said:


Most of the people who write about reggae are collectors of plastic and matrix numbers.
.

herbert

Really? I was trying to think of examples. Anyone who buys records could be accused of
collecting plastic. As for collecting matrix numbers I can't say what they do in private but I
don't think any of these well-known writers have quoted matrix numbers in their writings on
Reggae;
Dave Hendley
Peter Dalton
David Rodigan
Lol Bell-Brown
Snoopy
Steve Barrow
Lloyd Bradley
Dave Katz
Scotty/Observer/Penny Reel
Harry Hawke
Laurence Cane-Honeysett
Tony Rounce
Michael de Koningh
...and many others.
If you're referring to people like Leroy Pierson and Mike Turner then I think the work they
do is invaluable in documenting Jamaican music. Leroy Pierson, for example, wrote a
groundbreaking article for the Beat magazine documenting the Wailers releases on JA Wail
N Soul M, much of which had only appeared on blanks. It was only possible to begin to
make sense of it by using matrix numbers. Incidentally, Leroy happens to be a working
musician as well.

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