Michigan & Smiley

Rub-A-Dub Style

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Quirks in the Jamaican copyright laws were instrumental in the vibrancy of the island's music scene, as a song itself could not be copyrighted and only a specific version had protection. The upshot was a continuous free for all over melodies, with up and coming producers relying on old melodies to make their reputations. This stream of versions turned into a flood as the '70s progressed, with Studio One having the "honor" of being particularly plundered. It wasn't until 1978 that label head Coxsone Dodd finally bowed to the inevitable and hit back by versioning his own back catalog. The following year, he set two young DJs loose across Alton Ellis' classic "I'm Just a Guy," and watched the resulting "Rub a Dub Style" dance its way to the top of the Jamaican chart. From that moment on, there was no looking back. The hit titled the pair's ensuing full-length, which unleashed the duo across another five Studio One gems, all six delivered up in their extended mix form. Dodd was keen to keep the sparkle of the originals, and thus the brass, keyboard, piano, and guitar riffs were usually left intact. He niced them up for the dancehalls by employing overdubbing syndrums and percussion, while Earl "Bagga" Walker and Freddie McGregor added new bass and drums, giving each of the pieces a more militant, roots-rockers sound. Engineer Scientist's work was equally crucial and created a new crisp sound that was about to take the island by storm. Married to the brightness of the original rhythms, it totally revolutionized the sound in the dancehalls. The DJs were also embarking into uncharted waters. Toasting was certainly not new, but the concept of two DJs toasting together, cheerily trading off lines, and gleefully addressing the crowds and each other, was new. The two were responsible for kicking off the fashion for duos, and all those who came after owe them respect. Beyond the chart topper and the almost as huge "Nice Up the Dance," the rest of the set is of equal caliber as the two delve into culture and thanking Jah and Studio One for their good fortune. Indeed, it was "Time to Be Happy," and this record was one of the major reasons why people back in the day were.

blue highlight denotes track pick