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Forward the Bass: Dub from Randy's, 1972-1975

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Though Randy's Studio 17 doesn't enjoy the same instant name recognition as other legendary Kingston studios of the early 1970s -- Lee Perry's Black Ark or Coxsone Dodd's Studio One, for example -- its influence on the development of reggae music was arguably just as great. When Lee Perry was first recording the fledgling Wailers, and when Niney Holness was producing hits with the young Dennis Brown, they did so at Randy's. Burning Spear's Marcus Garvey album was recorded there, which fact alone is enough to secure Randy's an honored place in reggae history. The studio was owned by Vincent "Randy" Chin and featured the mixing prowess of a young engineer named Errol "E.T." Thompson, who would later go on to work with the legendary producer Joe Gibbs.

While Thompson was at Randy's, though, he helped create one of the first dub albums, a ten-cut set titled Randy's Dub, of which fewer than 200 copies were pressed. Forward the Bass reissues those original ten with five additional tracks, all of which are sweet, dark and lovely examples of the somewhat restrained but still innovative dub that was coming out of Randy's at the studio's peak. Highlights include "Shining Dub," a version of an early Wailers track titled "Sun Won't Shine for Me" (pity there weren't any leftover vocals on this version) and "Ordinary Version Chapter 3," in which Thompson pretends to give a lesson to an aspiring engineer. Dub can get wilder than this, but it doesn't get much better.

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