Burning Spear

Living Dub, Vol. 5

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Living Dub, Vol. 5 is actually Burning Spear's seventh dub album since 1976 when the groundbreaking Garvey's Ghost, a dub makeover of the Marcus Garvey album, was first released. Given the brilliant sameness of Spear's approach over the years, which relies on slow to midtempo smoky roots rhythms that burn under his half-spoken, cadenced vocals, his dub sets are often quite startling, revealing the rich detail that Spear constructs for his backing tracks, and when his vocals snake in and out of these dubs, they carry a conciseness often lacking in the main album versions, good as they are. This set contains dub remixes done by Barry O'Hare from Spear's 1999 album Calling Rastafari, and these new versions unfold in bright, bubbling soundscapes full of interjected horn lines, organ trills, bursts of percussion, and enough of Spear's original vocal tracks to give them thematic shape. The end result is a sort of refracted, underwater dream version of the original album, but by no means is it an adjunct to it, since it works in its own stead. Highlights include the opener, "Hit Dub," the brisk, majestic "Holy Dub," and the reggae funk of "Dub He." Again, you don't need to own or be familiar with Calling Rastafari in order to connect with Living Dub, Vol. 5. It works on its own terms.

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