Augustus Pablo

Essential Augustus Pablo

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The late Horace Swaby, who produced, performed and remixed under the name Augustus Pablo, is known to casual reggae fans primarily as the person who took a child's toy instrument -- the melodica, a small, handheld keyboard powered by blowing -- and turned it into the voice of serious and mystical roots reggae. His haunting, minor-key instrumentals were characterized by what came to be called the "Far East" sound, and were tremendously influential on the reggae and even the rock music of the late '70s and early '80s (Gang of Four's "It's Her Factory," for example, could not have existed without Pablo). But less well-known is his fine work as a producer and champion of young roots-and-culture singers of the period, notably the late Hugh Mundell and the underrated Junior Delgado, both of whom recorded a significant amount of work with Pablo during his heyday. This excellent two-disc set offers a fairly comprehensive overview of Pablo's career, including numerous examples of his melodica instrumentals and dub mixes (among them the stone classic "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown," a dubwise breakdown of Jacob Miller's "Baby I Love You So") along with some of his less well-known work with Delgado, Mundell, Tetrack and others. Highlights include a collaboration with Gregory Isaacs titled "I Am Alright," the instrumental "555 Crown Street" (together with its dub version) and the brilliant "Crucial Burial." Highly recommended.

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