King Tubby

Megawatt Dub

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Megawatt Dub matches the work of reggae music's best loved studio pioneers: the Upsetter himself, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and dub organizer Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock for an imaginary dub duel. Accompanied by some of the finest rocksteady/reggae sessionmen of their time (including drummer Sly Dunbar, keyboardist Winston Wright, and bassist/guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith), the pair deconstruct the form, fleshing out echo-laden drum and bass, only to strip the mix down to its bare bones once again. Tubby's "versions" come across as more spacious structures when heard next to the slightly clouded fidelity of the Perry tracks on hand. If one were forced to announce a winner, the latter might have the edge, causing more aural confusion on the likes of "Rainy Night" and "Open the Gate" (reworking of one-time Congo Watty Burnett's material). More traditional, Tubby sticks to tried and true effects, punctuating drum patterns with echo and reverb rather than cluttering the sound with them. As usual, the faders are worked with the skill of a master. The duo shares compositional credit for the playful whiplash rhythm "Splash Dub." Only the added tracks by "Prince" Phillip Smart (recorded at Burnett's studio years later) seem unnecessary. Smart began his career as one of Tubby's earliest mixing disciples, making him a witness to the music's formation during the mid-'70s. Unfortunately, his contributions (slick, synthesized "versions" of "Copycat" and "Forever") feel lifeless and out of place against the work of his contemporaries. Long out of print until Shanachie packaged these tracks for official release, the rare material makes Megawatt Dub an attractive purchase for avid dub fans. But while the quality is consistent, both producers reached greater sonic heights elsewhere.

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