Various Artists

Flashing Echo: Trojan in Dub 1970-1980

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Say what you like about Trojan's marked tendency to recycle endlessly its seemingly bottomless vault of classic reggae recordings -- the label still manages frequently to produce excellent compilations from those vaults, and Flashing Echo: Trojan in Dub 1970-1980, a two-disc historical overview of dub, is one of its best efforts. The 41 tracks on this album are presented chronologically, beginning with several numbers from 1970 (not the earliest examples of dub on record, but the beginning of the genre's mature phase) and ending with 1980 (after which the influence of dub began to fade as dancehall reggae, with its heavier rhythms and earthier concerns, began to take over the scene). The program includes material by all of dub's most celebrated exponents: producers Joe Gibbs, Rupie Edwards, and Bunny Lee, instrumental wizards Augustus Pablo and Sly Dunbar, and dub specialists King Tubby, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Linval Thompson, among many others. There is not a single weak track on the album, which includes such undisputed classics as the Upsetters' "Callying Butt" (a dub version of "Bush Weed Corn Trash"), Rupie Edwards' "Ire Feelings" (the rhythm of which became the basis of many great reggae singles), and Prince Jammy's "Jammin' for Survival" (a cut of the Morwells' "Kingston 12 Toughie"). By not focusing on the work of a single producer, as dub compilations tend to do, Flashing Echo gives the listener a true overview of the kaleidoscopic variety of instrumental reggae being created in Kingston's recording studios during reggae's most important decade, and the chronological presentation makes it easy to follow the music's development during that period. Unfortunately, the label missed a great opportunity by using Harry Hornby's personal essay on growing up as a reggae fan in Britain for the liner notes, instead of offering a historical essay that newcomers to the music could have used as an introduction. It would also have been handy to have a list of the vocal versions on which each of these dubs are based. Still, this is an invaluable musical document and tons of fun, besides. Strongly recommended, especially to newcomers to the genre.

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