Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Top 102 Albums⁺ No 21 - King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown

Top 102 Albums⁺ No 21
King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown - Augustus Pablo & King Tubby

I first remember hearing the title track of this album on the John Peel show back in the late seventies and a wonderful late night reggae show on our local radio station in Bray. It was the late eighties before I bought the album and I remember thinking it was even better than my memory of it. In the years since then it has been played very regularly and has never lost any of its appeal.

The sound on this record is amazing. Dub always seemed like a laboratory to me, where the science of sound was being stretched like nowhere else. The main instrument was the mixing desk, and, when Augustus Pablo was around, the melodica. Sounds are stretched, squashed, shattered, echoed and invented. There is a wonderful texture to this album. It feels to me like there are layers and layers of sound and different layers are constantly being revealed and hidden. It is haunting and playful, always changing but coherent. Sonic architecture.

Augustus Pablo(Rockers) plays the melodica.
Many of these tracks were originally used a s b-sides to the tracks they were 'versions' of but as Dub took off commercially they became hits themselves and albums of Dub were released. Tracks were produced with the Dub versions already in mind. Augustus Pablo produced and played on the original tracks and King Tubby 'versioned' them. Of course it helps that the original tracks have killer beats created by stellar musicians like Aston and Carlton Barrett (Wailers and Upsetters).

This is one of the very best Dub albums, if not the best. The title track has been voted one of the greatest singles of all time by the NME back in 1987 and more recently by Mojo (says Wikipedia). Skanking Dub and Satta Dub are just as good. After listening to the best of Dub I often wonder how people got away with all those awful extended 12" remixes in the early eighties. More generally meant less. These are better than the originals. I could listen to this all day, every day.

Sculptures in sound.

King Tubby plays the mixing desk.


  1. I like the 'sonic adventures' line Seamus. There's so much control in the recording process these days. We all know exactly what we're doing so we never get lost. How many of those earlier pioneers produced the sounds they originally intended. To find this wonderful music these adventurers had to leave without a destination.

    1. Hi Trevor - if you like the line so much I must include it! But yes, to be truly experimental you have to be cutting edge, and they were. You want to make sounds that no-one has heard before.

  2. Sorry Seamus; I've got you mouthing my thoughts... 'Sonic architecture' had me drifting...