Augustus Pablo

King David's Melody: Classic Instrumentals & Dubs

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Originally released in 1983 on his own Rockers imprint, Augustus Pablo's King David's Melody collects singles from the years 1975-1982. The liner notes do a good job of pointing out that most of the tracks are considered instrumentals instead of dubs, which only means Pablo's more responsible for the melodies and structures of the songs than usual. The serene, relaxed, and otherworldly feelings of Pablo's dub material is well represented, and to a lesser extent, the trippy twists and turns, but they are more modest and mostly on the bonus tracks. The inspiration for the overall positive and supremely spiritual feel to the collection is right in the title. Rastafarian Pablo is referencing spiritual leader Haile Selassie's claim to be descended from King David, a king of ancient Israel who could sooth the soul with his flute and harp. Pablo does the same here with his melodica and occasional keyboards. The easy-rolling title track, the coolly cheerful "Mr. Bassie," and the airy "Cornerstone Dub" all support the original compilation's King David-by-way-of-Selassie inspiration, but Shanachie's bonus tracks -- as interesting as they are -- only relate to Pablo's original intentions for the collection in that they were singles. "Hot Milk" is a thin number that finds Pablo messing with a tinny synth and a primitive drum machine, while "Freedom Step," "Israel Dub," and the "Mr. Bassie" rework titled "Jah Strength Ital Step" feel a bit thicker and darker than the rest of the album. None of this ruins the collection by any means, but listeners should do themselves a favor and try the 1983 sequence of the album for a tighter, more focused listen. CD players make it easy, and with the majority of these instrumentals being hard or near impossible to obtain otherwise, Shanachie's reissue of King David's Melody is welcome, tinkering and all.

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