Whittling King Tubby's prolific output down to a 15-track best-of that covers just four years of his career (1973-1977) ensures that the title The Best of King Tubby is a highly debatable proposition among serious reggae fans. Whether or not this is his best, or what most fans would choose as his best, it's a good collection of work from the period that most would agree represented his prime. These are among the first and best recordings that innovated the traits of dub that are now taken for granted: the wildly careening repeated echoes, ghostly organs, irregular insertion of ethereal lead vocals and wordless vocal harmonies, deep deep bass, sorrowful horns, trance-like rhythms, and odd electronic effects (the burst of computer-like sounds that kick off "Dub From the Roots" would be at home on a 1990s electronica record). It often adds up to a peculiar alternate-universe, just-out-of-step-with-reality dreamlike feel, never more so than on "King Tubby's Talkative Dub," based on the 1960s Mitty Collier soul gem "I Had a Talk With My Man," though utilizing the voice of reggae vocalist John Holt. Among the artists whose source material is plundered and embellished here are Ronnie Davis, the Heptones, Clarence Reid, Horace Andy, Johnny Clarke, and Bob Marley. Dub music is not the easiest genre to collect in a stepping-stone fashion, and although those familiar with King Tubby's work might find this album on the perfunctory side, those not yet immersed in dub discs will almost certainly find it a decent introduction or sampler.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger