UK reggae legend and hype-man extraordinaire David Rodigan is at the controls for Fabric’s latest mix CD.
FabricLive 54 sees David mixing up dub, deejay tracks and dancehall in his inimitable style.
“I deliberately avoided the obvious tracks which have appeared repeatedly on reggae compilation albums over the years,” he says. “Fabric, the club, and Fabric the record label, is at the cutting edge of music and so I wanted to uphold that legacy with my album.
“[This mix] allows me to delve into those historic dubs that I made with King Tubby The Dubmaster at his studios in Kingston,” he continues. “They were customised, exclusive dubs made and when I play them the Fabric fraternity have gone completely nutzoid! ”
Rodigan’s love affair with Jamaican music began in 1964, as he explains in the FabricLive 54 press release:
“I heard this crazy backbeat called Bluebeat: ‘My Boy Lollipop,’ the Skatalites, and Prince Buster, and when I heard ‘Oh Carolina’, I couldn’t believe the rhythmic structure of it. That was my introduction to Jamaican music, and at the same time I was fascinated by the Impressions, by the Stax and Atlantic sound, with Wilson Pickett, and Sam and Dave, and then the Temptations and Motown; you heard the music on pirate radio, at youth clubs, and a music shop called Russell Acott. Brett’s School of Dancing was where I first saw the Spencer Davis Group and Jimmy Cliff; Oxford Town Hall was where I first saw the Joyce Bond Review, and I was obsessed with Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band.”
“In January 1979, I took my first trip to Jamaica and met King Tubby, Bunny Wailer, Big Youth, Gregory Isaacs and Marcia Griffiths.”
It wasn’t long before Rodigan began DJing. “I started playing at friends’ birthday parties as a teenager, by the summer of ’67. In college I was known as the guy with the records, but in those days, DJs were considered to be slightly nerdy — they weren’t accorded any special place. Then I was working as an actor in various repertory companies, but in 1978, my girlfriend heard that radio DJ Steve Barnard was leaving the Reggae Time programme on BBC Radio London, but it didn’t strike me as something I’d even get a look in at, so she wrote to the BBC on my behalf, requesting an interview, and I was eventually given the show alongside Tony Williams; that was September 1978, and in January 1979, I took my first trip to Jamaica and met King Tubby, Bunny Wailer, Big Youth, Gregory Isaacs and Marcia Griffiths.
“I was with the BBC for a year, and I joined Capital in the autumn of 1979 with a ‘Reggae News Desk’ that was part of Nicky Horn’s rock show, and it became so popular that I was eventually given my own show, which ran for eleven years, until I joined Kiss FM in 1990. I also did the big Gossip’s club in the West End with Papa Face, which ran for 20 years from 1979; David Bowie and Mick Jagger came down one night, Prince Buster came down another night, and I Roy was on the mike freestyle one night.
“Everyone said it was absolutely insane that this bald-headed Englishman would even contemplate taking them on…”
“In terms of sound clashing, I did radio clashes with Barry Gordon on JBC in Jamaica, once a year, from 1983-88; the big one was ’85, the ‘Sleng Teng’ clash, and we had a clash in New York, but the first real sound system clashing I did was in 1991, against Bodyguard in Jamaica, and everyone said it was absolutely insane that this bald-headed Englishman would even contemplate taking them on, so it was a real baptism of fire; that became an annual event for several years, and the whole clashing thing spiralled from there for me…”
The album will be released on November 22. To whet your appetite, Rodigan has provided some notes on some of its most significant tracks overleaf.
Augustus Pablo: King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown
This track has rightly been referred to as one of the greatest dub recordings ever made, and one listen tells you why. It was actually the first ever dub recording to be released by Island Records as an A-side 7 inch single in 1976. It is the opening track on the fabric album setting the tone for what is to follow. Augustus Pablo created the haunting ‘far east dub sound’ of reggae in the early 1970s and along with King Tubby (also deceased), he succeeded in releasing some of the greatest dub tracks ever.
Big Youth: Waterhouse Rock
Big Youth was one of the pioneers of Jamaican dee jay music and he had a cult following in the 1970s; this track epitomises the style of chanting ~ MC-ing ~ toasting ~ dee jaying that was so prominent in early reggae of the 70s. It was essentially a reflection of what he had been doing as an MC on the top Jamaican sound system Tippertone. The rhythm is dubbed beneath him in the mix by the great Kingston engineer Errol T and the rhythm is played by the Soul Syndicate band. Waterhouse is a ghetto in Western Kingston where King Tubby’s studio was based.
Bitty McLean: Plead My Cause
Bitty is one of reggae’s most creative and inspired artists. Based in London he recorded this song in Kingston with Sly and Robbie and it is the perfect example of ‘the reggae protest song’… the type of reggae which has made the music of Jamaica such a powerful music worldwide.
Etana: August Town
Etana is one of the most exciting and original female stars to have risen out of Jamaica in recent times. In this song she reflects upon an act of police brutality which occurred in a Kingston suburb called August Town.
Romain Virgo: Live Mi Life
Another protest song, in the reggae tradition, recorded this year by the most popular new male artist in Jamaica. He is just 20 years old with a strong background as a chorister in his community choir. He hails from Bob Marley’s birthplace, the parish of St. Ann, Jamaica.
Alborosie: Kingston Town
One of two tracks on the album (the other by Collie Buddz a white Bermudian) which reflects the universal passion that reggae can bring. Alborosie was born in Sicily and raised in Bergamot near Milan. As a teenager he was already a vocalist with an Italian reggae band but 8 years ago he headed for Jamaica and never came back. He has his own recording studio in Kingston where he writes and produces his own music, this song being his anthem.
01 Augustus Pablo – King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown [Yard Music / Rockers International]
02 Big Youth – Waterhouse Rock [VP]
03 Alborosie – Kingston Town [Greensleeves]
04 Etana – August Town [VP]
05 Chezidek – Borderline [Mideya]
06 Romain Virgo – Live Mi Life [VP]
07 Cham – Ghetto Story [Warner]
08 Super Cat – Don Dada [Sony]
09 Pinchers – Bandelero [Necessary Mayhem]
10 Prince Alla – Bucket Bottom [Freedom Sounds]
11 King Tubby – Roots Of Dub [Total Sounds]
12 Joe Gibbs & Errol T – He Prayed (Dubbed) [VP]
13 Tenor Saw – Ring The Alarm [Techniques]
14 Mr Vegas & Konshens – Help Me Praise Jahoviah [Maximum Sound]
15 Bitty McLean – Plead My Cause [Mideya / TAXI / Silent River]
16 Beres Hammond – Can You Play Some More [VP]
17 Cadenza – Stop That Train [Headlock]
18 Sly, Robbie, Lenky & The Maximum Sound Crew – Black Board [Maximum Sound]
19 Shaggy – Church Heathen [Big Yard]
20 Collie Buddz – Come Around [Sony]
21 Million Stylez – Police In Helicopter [Necessary Mayhem]