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Niney The Observer

At King Tubby’s Dub Plate Specials 1973-1975

    Winston ‘Niney’ Holmes AKA The Observer, must be one of Reggaes finest Roots Rebel producers. Capable of making some of the heaviest, innovative music, not only in sound but also in the Cultural/Political sense.

    Born George Boswell, Montego Bay, Jamaica 1951, and name checked ‘Niney’ due to losing a thumb in a workshop accident. He began his career in music by organising bands to play at school dances. But his first steps learning the musical ropes came working under the tutelage of producer Bunny Lee around 1967, organising sessions for Bunny’s stable of artists. He moved on to work alongside Lee Perry at Joe Gibb’s ‘Amalgamated’ label setup, where on Lee Perry’s leaving in 1969 to start his own ‘Upsetter’ label, Niney became chief engineer.

    Inspired by Perry’s success it wasn’t long before his own ‘Destroyer’ label was under way. It was 1970, and his first production entitled ‘Mr Brown’ by DJ’s Dennis Alcapone and Lizzy, proved to be a minor hit, but his own ‘Blood and Fire’ track released in December of that year would become a major hit. After initial problems with it’s likeness to Bob Marley’s track ‘ Duppy Conqueror’ being ironed out, it’s reissue on his now named ‘Observer’ label, saw it go on to become, Jamaican Record of the Year 1971. Far out selling Bob Marley’s track to the tune of 30,000 copies in Jamaica alone. A roots classic…

    Niney’s reputation for building great roots tracks, was furthered with more success working with singer Max Romeo. Issuing cuts such as ‘Beard Man Feast’, the great ‘Reggae Matic’ and ‘Aily Ailaloo’ and renewing his friendship with Lee Perry on the track ‘Rasta Band Wagon’, who’s production credit read Perry, Niney, Maxie. In 1973, Niney began working with Dennis Brown, who was already an established star from an early age, they found a chemistry that went on to produce some of Dennis’ finest work. The 1973 hit ‘Westbound Train’ was followed in 1974 by ‘Cassandra’, ‘I am the Conqueror’ and the timeless ‘No More Shall I rOam’. Another important connection around this time was the great King Tubby who Niney would take his tapes along to and even record some of his tracks at Tubby’s house, 18 Drummlie Avenue, Kingston, which doubles as his Studio of Dub.

    It’s these tracks that we are concentrating on here. Tubby would strip the tracks back to the bone and rebuild then sometimes leaving off the hook line. Whether that be the horn line or keyboard line and adding effects over the top that could disguise the cut even more. Even Niney stating that when Tubby had finished with a cut, he found it hard to recognise the track himself. Its these tracks as dub plate specials that Tubby would play on his Hometown HI-FI Sound System and it’s these such tracks that we have compiled for this release. Dub Plated that have not seen the light of day since tragically the great Osborne Ruddock AKA King Tubby was gunned won and murdered on the 06th December 1989. For a few dollars and a gold chain, reggae music has lost one of it’s most creative, inventive forces.

    Niney also cut tracks with many other Reggae giants such as Gregory Issacs, Michael Rose, Junior Delgado, Horace Andy and Delroy Wilson to name but a few. As in house producer at the legendry Channel Studios and supervising sessions at Dynamic and Randy’s Studio 17, his magic touched many. DJ, Arranger, Producer, his Roots Rebel music still stands the test of time.
    Hope you enjoy the set…..

    King Tubby

    Never Run Away-Dub Plate Specials

      King Tubby’s Hometown Hi-Fi was one of the great Sound System in Jamaica.
      It also proved a fantastic outlet for the Dub Plate Specials cut at Tubby’s studio, providing exclusive cuts to be played out and to entice the dance’s audience.
      The tracks at the time were mainly cut over producer Bunny’Striker’Lee rhythms, that Bunny stored at Tubby’s studio, 18 Drumilly Avenue, Kingston, Jamaica.
      The versions were given eclusive plays at Tubby’s sound before some finding their way on to vinyl, ass the b-side version cut to it’s a-side vocal.
      It proved so popular that the records were often brought fir its version side over its vocal counterpart.
      We have compiled a selection of cuts that were all tried and tested on Tubby’s Home Town Hi-Fi Sounf System and that worked a great set of Bunny Lee’s rhythms in fine style.
      Some of these cuts found a release as version b-sides but many on this set were exclusive Dub Plates unreleased until now.
      As Cornell Campbell says on track one of the set ”King Tubby and Bunny Lee will never go away”
      Hope you enjoy the set……

      The Aggrovators were one of Jamaica’s finest session bands put together by the hit make from J amaica Bunny Striker Lee. The group would produce some of the hardest rhythms cut at the legendary Channel 1 studio. These tracks would provide the backbone to songs that were usually voiced over at King Tubby’s own studio.These cuts here represent a selection of some of those fine rhythms selected together for the first time. The Aggrovators were a group of Reggae musicians that usually featured Carlton’Santa’Davis on drums playing alongside Robbie Shakespeare on bass with other musicians addedlike Earl’Chinna’Smith on guitar and Tommy Mc Cook and Vin Gordon and Lennox Brown added for horn arrangements,Keyboards and organ duties normally fell to Ansel Collins and Bernard’Touter’Harvey. We have compiled some great tracks recorded by this fantastic group of musicians and focused on those cut on Channel 1 studios to give you a feel of what those times were like. Hope you enjoy the set…..

      King Tubby and Dub go together like Matt Ward and eccentric eyewear. Born Osborne Ruddock in Kingston in 1941, he grew up around High Holborn Street in Kingston, before moving to the new Waterhouse district in 1955. His electronic genius grew from working and fixing radios and TV sets. A natural progression led to working with amplifiers, and starting his own sound system, ‘Tubby’s Home Town Hi-Fi’. A very competitive games in the late 60’s - You were only as good as the EXCLUSIVE records you played. Tubby discovered during his time cutting discs for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle set up, that by dropping vocals/instruments in and out of the backing tracks, you could invent new versions of existing old tunes. These early versions tried and tested on his sound system went down so well that he invested in a four track mixing console with delay echo effects, sliders and phasing units and so began King Tubby’s ‘Studio Of Dub’ at 18 Drummlie Avenue, Kinston 11 , Jamaica...his home. This is where all the producers would bring their tracks for Tubby to put his magic over. Most tracks that came out in Jamaica from here on in would carry a ‘Version’ on it’s B- Side more than likely a Tubby Dub. One of the producers who used him the most was Bunny Striker Lee, who’s labels Jackpot, Justice and Attack all carried Tubby’s mixes/versions on their flip sides. This collection, taken from original master tapes, showcases tracks you may know, but not in this radical form. So sit back and enjoy the dub master at work.

      One of Jamaica's most talented artists, Tappa Zukie has had an equal impact on both sides of the recording deck, as both a hitmaking toaster and as a producer who has worked with the cream of Jamaica's vocalists. In addition, his early ties to the punk community in both London and New York was instrumental in the crossover of roots reggae into the mainstream. The album 'Escape From Hell' saw its initial release in 1977 as a ten track album. It has been somewhat overlooked due to the small numbers of its original pressings. Tappa was at the height of his peak period as a roots producer with Sly & Robbie and the Revolutionaries house band and then up-and-coming engineer Prince Jammy, who would replace Philip Smart as right hand man at King Tubby's legendary Waterhouse facility. The opening cut, Sidewalk Dub, sets the tone as a totally dubwise reading of Tappa's devotional 'My God Is Real', followed by the instantly recognizable "Massacra Dub", an enthralling cut of Prince Allah's wonderful anthem, 'Burial'. Population Dub takes the 'Take Five' riddim, itself being an adaption of Dave Brubeck's jazz favourite. Then there is Weather Umbrella a well known riddim originally made popular by Ray-I as 'Weatherman Skank', who used the Treasure Isle classic 'It's Raining'. Next up comes King Alpha In School, a spirited re-cut of the Ebony Sisters' 'Let Me Tell You Boy' that Tappa used earlier for Horace Andy's 'Stop Your Brutality', followed by the outstanding Experience Dub, a subtle counterpart to Horace's 'Natty Dread Weh She Want' (which borrowed lyrics and structure from an earlier Soul Syndicate hit whilst also making use of the melody of Alton Ellis' Studio One classic, 'Hurting Me'). 

      Prince Jammy became a King while cutting his musical teeth working for the dub master himself King Tubby. In that old Jamaican way, when everyone in Jamaica was given a new name to work with, Prince Jammy as he was known so impressed his colleagues that he rose from a Prince to a King, both names given to him by producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. Out of the many protégés that trained and worked at King Tubby’s....and there were many, Scientist, Pat Kelly and Prince Phillip Smart to name but a few it was King Jammy’s work that was the main stay. On this system shaking disc of deep dubwise righteousness, Jamaican Recordings have selected a storming set of tunes that were rebuilt with King Jammy at the controls...Hold tight massive, this is tha lick!

      Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare are simply known all around the world as Sly & Robbie, the Rhythm Twins. Providing the drum and bass backbone for reggae since the early 1970’s (Dunbar on Dave and Ansell Collins album 'Double Barrel', Shakespeare as a member of the Hippy Boys), the pair have played on more records than any other set of Jamaican musicians. Needless to say, as this is a Jamaican Recordings release, the name Bunny ’Striker’ Lee can't be far away, and it turns out that the duo first worked together in Lee's house band the Aggrovators.

      These rare dubs are taken from the original master tapes. You may have heard the tunes before, but never these versions. So sit back and enjoy reggae musical history in the making.

      Phillip Smart

      Meets The Aggrovators At King Tubbys

      Phillip Smart was one of the great engineers to learn his trade as understudy to the legendary dub master himself Osbourne ’King Tubby’ Ruddock. Alongside other luminaires such as Prince Jammy and Scientist, Phillip Smart would step in at the controls when demand for King Tubby studio dubs grew to such an extent that each single release was expected to carry a version / dub on the flipside.

      Phillip Smart moved to the United States in the late 70s and in 1981 opened his successful studio HC&F, in Long Island, New York. It produced some sizeable Jamaican dancehall hits for his two record labels TanYah and Eclipse.

      Tracks like Dirtsman’s ‘Hot This Year’ and ‘Rikers Island’, and most notably Shaggy, used the studio to work up his massive hits ‘Oh Carolina’, ’Big Up’ and ‘Angel’.

      But it’s in the heady days of the early 1970s and up to 1976 that Jamaican Recordings concentrate on for this release. When Version was King and Prince Phillip Smart was at the controls mixing up some fine dubs with Jamaica’s finest musicians The Aggrovators.

      The Congos possess what all bands look for, that unique distinctive sound that draws the listener in. Alongside the great songs, lead singer Cedric Myton’s singing, phasing and falsetto voice makes that just the case. The Congos were formed by Cedric Myton (b. 1947, St Catherine, Jamaica) around the mid-Seventies when the Rasta message was central to the reggae sound coming out of Kingston, Jamaica. But he had started out in the Rocksteady era, when he formed the vocal group ‘Tartans’, taking lead vocal duties alongside Devon Russell, Prince Lincoln Thompson and Lindbergh Lewis.They cut ‘Dance All Night’ (1967) and ‘Coming On Strong’ (1968). The line-Up became The Royal Rasses and from this Cedric moved on to form the Congos on meeting Roydel Johnson, who had previously sang with Ras Michael and the Sons of Negas. Cedric’s Rasta roots were firmly in place when he went to work with producer Lee Perry to cut the seminal album ‘Heart Of The Congos’ at Perry’s just built, Black Ark Studios in 1977. Cedric Myton has carried on the mantle, cutting a set of tunes with the help of his good friend Mr Brent Dowe, who had previously sang lead vocals with the Melodians. This is the dub set to the vocal album released on the Kingston Sounds label called ‘The Congos Feast’. With such strong songs, rhythms and vocals it always had the chemistry for a great dub set. Hope you agree and enjoy the dub excursion…


      Philippa says: The dub set to the vocal album 'The Congos Feast'.

      Jamaican Recordings come up with a killer dub compilation, featuring Niney, Bunny Lee, Jammy and Ossie Thomas behind the mixing desk. A quick spin reveals that most of the cuts here are from the mid - late 70s, with the exception being a fantastic early 70s Augustus Pablo dub of the Wailers' "Rock My Boat". Other highlights on side A include dubs of Horace Andy's "The Children", Max Romeo's "Tribal War" (really spacious!), Ronnie Davis' "Raining" and the tough "Darker Shade Of Dub". On side two Johnny Clarke and Shorty The President get the dubwise treatment, with the dubs to Robert Trench's "Mr Babylon" and Freddie McKay's "Going" being the standouts.


      LP Info: Limited 180g vinyl pressing.

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