Before there was dancehall -- before the rise of Shabba Ranks, Lieutenant Stitchie, Bounty Killer, Cutty Ranks, or Ninjaman -- there was dubwise. The dubwise toasters of the '70s (King Tubby, I-Roy, U-Roy, Big Youth, Ijahman, among others) not only paved the way for modern dancehall, they also had an impact on hip-hop. While toasting isn't the same as rapping, hip-hop pioneers like Grandmaster Flash and Kool DJ Herc did put their own Americanized spin on dubwise's aesthetic of two turntables and a microphone. In the 21st century, dancehall is much easier to find than dubwise; nonetheless, some artists are doing their part to keep old-school dubwise alive -- and Improvisators Dub is a prime example. Super Vocal & Dub Session is a 2004 release, but stylistically, this CD is a throwback to the classic dubwise of the '70s. Jonah Dan and Danny Vibes (the disc's main participants) offer no acknowledgment of dancehall artists like Shabba Ranks and Bounty Killer; their '70s-minded approach happily recalls a time when Big Youth, King Tubby, and their colleagues reigned supreme on Jamaica's sound systems. However, Super Vocal & Dub Session wasn't recorded in Kingston or Montego Bay; Improvisators Dub's members are actually based in France, although they certainly favor a Jamaican sound. When this album is playing, one is reminded how much toasting has changed and evolved over the years; in many cases, today's dancehall is much more harsh, abrasive, and forceful than the sort of old-school dubwise that one hears on this album (which is consistently funky, but never in a harsh or confrontational way). Super Vocal & Dub Session isn't in a class with the best King Tubby, I-Roy, or Big Youth recordings of the '70s; it is, however, an enjoyable and decent example of what Improvisators Dub has to offer long after dubwise's heyday.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson