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Monday, August 6, 2012

Vital Dub "Well Charged" - Review

Red Gold & Green Music

Vital Dub "Well Charged" - Review by Writerman

The first comment I would have to make before beginning this review is that the listing information for this CD suggests the artist is a group called Vital Dub. This is totally incorrect; the band is the Revolutionaries (sometimes known as the Revolutionaires – but not to be confused with the UK rockabilly band of the same name). Mind you it is hardly surprising this happened given the confusing nature of the sleeve which makes no mention whatsoever of The Revolutionaries.

The background is; The Revolutionaries were the house band at Channel One studios. They made a number of albums and were based around that dynamite reggae rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, although the latter wasn’t on this particular recording. However Sly is, along with horn players Tommy McCook and Herman Marquis, percussionist Uziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson, bassist Ranchie McLean, keyboardists Ansel Collins and Ossie Hibbert and guitarist Duggie Bryan.

First up is 'Roof Top Dub'; a pretty standard laid back dub with the horns leading the way. It’s pleasant but not dynamic. It is taken from a Mighty Diamonds song called 'I Need A Roof' from their 'Right Time' album.
'Ital Step' has a haunting little melody running through it and cool echo on the guitar and percussion. This is a bit more stripped down in keeping with its title and there is no sign of the horns on this one with the keyboards coming more to the fore instead.
There is more of a calypso feel to 'Fence Dub' which opens with horns and keyboards and features some bizarre percussive noises that resemble birdsong.

From my research it would appear 'Ishens Dub' is about herbs. (Possibly oregano or thyme?). Suffice to say this one is pretty mellowed out and irie. It begins with a big hit from the horns and then bops along nicely in a cheery and slightly drunken fashion.
'Total Dub' is full immersion dub-school stuff. The percussion and bass rule here with guitars and the like only making occasional incursions into the percussive flow. At times some of the squelched percussion sounds like artillery.

And after the war there has to be some 'Merciful Dub'. This piece begins with a melodious piano intro and then is carried by an adventurous wee bass line with some quite metallic sounding percussion until the piano grabs hold of the melody again for another burst before the job is handed back to the bass. 'Cell Block 11' is the longest cut on this disc and just one of two tracks here not to feature the word ‘Dub’ in its title. It is also different to the rest in that there are a few small vocal snatches throughout. For my money this track features the coolest percussion and one of the nicest melodies of the lot. I also love the way it bounces along in such an energetic fashion.

It is a very ska sound that you get on 'Killer Dub', the album’s penultimate cut. The horns dominate the melody pieces while the guitar is simply used as a rhythm instrument. This track has a very sudden and unusual ending. I can’t help but wonder if it was a studio mistake that nobody managed to notice because ‘all fruits ripe and me jammin’ Mon.’

The final offering is 'Blacka Black Dub' which reminds me of a Mighty Diamonds song that I can’t quite bring to mind McCook and Marquis blow the main melody once again but this time the guitar is used more as a harmony instrument than simply as part of the rhythm section.

Review by Writerman
Email: ken@writerman.co.nz
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