Dennis Bovell

Dub Master

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At one time Dennis Bovell was the biggest name in English reggae, combining careers as a producer, member of Matumbi, and solo artist. This disc cherry-picks tracks from two of his solo albums, Strictly Dub Wise and Audio Active, to give a strong picture of his musical breadth. There are the dub tracks, ranging from the King Tubby influence of "Ites of Dub" to the far more sonically adventurous "Zombie Zombez (And Then the Rain Fell)," which offers a more British take on the genre. He's also a master of the modern roots reggae instrumental, which finds a showcase on "Roots Symphony" and "Audio Active," both elaborate, fully realized tracks with complex arrangements, far beyond the usual sparseness of roots reggae. Song-wise he's perhaps not so strong as a solo artist, from the bright and somewhat boastful "Dub Master" running to the saccharine sweetness of "Lovers Rock," (lovers rock being a successful British subgenre of reggae). The songs are pleasant, but hardly the challenging work he's capable of, and that's reflected in the throwaway manner in which he approaches them. As an introduction to the man's work in the late '70s, it's invaluable.

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