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Chinna Smith

Dub It!

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Dub It! is essentially the dub version of Jamaican poet Mutabaruka's groundbreaking LP debut, Check It!, originally released in 1983 on Earl "Chinna" Smith's High Times label. Although it received little to no radio airplay, Check It! almost single-handedly put the dub poetry subgenre on the musical map, due in part to Mutabaruka's impassioned, incendiary lyrics, but also because of the tight, solid play of the session band Smith put together for the project. Billed as the High Times Players, the musicians included guitarist Smith, Augustus Pablo on keyboards and melodica,the Wailers rhythm section, and ace horn players Dean Fraser, Bobby Ellis and David Madden, among others. What makes Dub It! stand out, now that it has finally been released some 20 years after it was tracked, is the mixing approach used by engineers Steven Stewart and Errol Brown. While the murky, ominous reverb and echo delay that is endemic to dub is present here, it is used appropriately rather than constantly, which means the ensemble roots playing of the musicians is allowed to shine through, and when the mixes phase shift into deep dub territory, it is a clear celebration of the music rather than an electronic distortion of it. The album as a whole has a seamless, suite-like quality, but among the key tracks are "Whiteman Dub," which features Pablo's trademark melodica runs, the eerie, almost industrial "Whe Mi Dub?" (a second, alternate mix of this one adds a small vocal choir and turns from eerie to downright spooky), and "Postpone Dub," with its wonderfully syncopated piano. The end result of all this is an album that stands on its own quite capably, and even listeners unfamiliar with Mutabaruka's Check It! will have no problem appreciating this long delayed gem.

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