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Dennis Brown
DENNIS BROWN IN DUB


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For those who know nothing about Jamaican dub as well as for long-time dub fans, this compilation of 20 B-sides of Dennis Brown 45s can’t be improved on. Brown began his career as a child singer, a lullaby baritone who maintained his soft and sleepy hold over love-song fans till the day he died, still young, in 1999. Only patches of his soft rudeboy vocals turn up on these dubs, however. These are the flip sides of his hits (such as "Africa," "Tribulation," "My Time," "You’re No Good," "Yagga Yagga," "The Conqueror," the enigmatic "Cassandra," and, first and best-liked, "Westbound Train"), in which his producer, King Tubby, and Tubby’s band of studio musicians and soundboard psychedelics laid down their distorted, drugged-out, echo-effected "dubs." Here these dubs appear in Niney the Observer’s newly remixed versions, which recapture the off-key, poorly pressed, even scratchy sounds that made dubs of the 1974-1978 era so seductive. The music rumbles, rocks, and missteps, and it squints and burps — like partygoers waking up the morning after, with a serious hangover but still rocking and fretting, delirious on instinct alone. Prominent in the rumble are those dull-toned but liquid bass lines — tracks that, along with the darkness of the accompanying echo effects and the baleful crying baritones, dub bequeathed directly to house music, and that still give deep house its scarifying profundity.

BY MICHAEL FREEDBERG

Issue Date: April 18 - 25, 2002
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