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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…..

    Lee Perry Vs Bunny Striker Lee

    Dub Soundclash

      What two great producers other then Lee Perry and Bunny Lee would be best suited for a Dub Soundclash. Both producers were integral at the birth of Dub music and would share many rhythms and sessions, their musical paths would cross all through their careers.

      It was in fact Bunny Lee’s rhythm that provided the back drop to Lee Perry’s ‘Shocks of Mighty cut. Jobs were passed from one to the other, Bunny Lee taking over Lee Perry’s position at Wirl records. Yes two producers whose paths always seemed to cross as it does with this release.

      We have selected some of Lee Perry’s rhythms, side one of this set, against some Bunny Lee rhythm on side two.You can hear the distinctive sound of Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio with his echo-plex giving his trademark whirling sound against Bunny Lee’s rhythms cut at many different studios. The winner of the Soundclash? We will leave that decision up to you the listener…..

      But in this Dub session there is no loser…


      King Tubby’s Hometown Hi-Fi was one of the great Sounds 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 exclusive plays at Tubby’s sound before some found their way on to vinyl, as the B-side version cut to its A-side vocal. It proved so popular that the records were often brought for its version side over its vocal counterpart. Here is a selection of cuts that were all tried and tested on Tubby’s Home Town Hi-Fi Sound System and that worked a great set of Bunny Lee’s rhythms in fine style. Some of these cuts have never been released until now!

      As Cornell Campbell says on track one of the set 'King Tubby and Bunny Lee will never go away' - this certainly is the case today as more and more of the historic producers' archives become available to us all once again...We hope you enjoy the set!

      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!

      King Tubby’s and Channel One were two of the greatest studios to come out of Kingston, Jamaica, with both producing so many of the great reggae rhythms and tracks of the 1970s. Jamaican Recordings bring the two together for a one album only dub soundclash, battling it out at the mixing desk for the undisputed heavyweight of dub trophy. So who would be better placed to compere the Dub Soundclash from these two great studios than Bunny Lee himself. So sit back and enjoy these dubs from two great reggae institutions, battling it out for sumpremacy. The winner? We'll leave that decision up to the listener. But in this 'Dub Soundclash' there is no loser...

      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.

      King Tubby’s Hometown Hi-Fi was one the great Sound Systems in Jamaica. It also proved a fantastic outlet for the dubplate 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 which was in fact his home, 18 Drumilly Avenue, Kingston, Jamaica. The versions were given exclusive plays at Tubby’s sound before some finding their way on to vinyl, as the B-side version cuts to the main vocal A-sides, proving so popular that the records were often brought for their version sides over the vocal counterparts. King Tubby and Producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee are intertwined in the birth of dub music, going on to release the first vinyl dub pressings. Tubby’s vast knowledge of electronics and Bunny’s vast catalogue of rhythms would lay the foundations of what today is taken as a standard... the remix / version cuts to an existing vocal tune.

      Tubby built his first Sound System in 1957 playing jazz and rhythm & blues at local weddings and birthday parties. His reputation as a man who knew and understood both electronics and music grew steadily and as the sixties drew to a close Tubby purchased his own basic two track equipment. He installed this alongside his dub cutting machine and a home-made mixing console.

      Dynamic Sounds upgraded to 16 track recording in 1972 and Tubby purchased, again with the help of a deal brokered by Bunny Lee, the old four track equipment and the MCI console from their Studio B. The four tracks now gave him far wider scope to work with and he began to create a new musical form where the bass and drum parts were brought up while the faders allowed Tubby to ease the vocal and rhythm in and out of the mix. Jamaican Recordings have compiled a selection of cuts that were all tried and tested on Tubby’s Home Town Hi Fi Sound System and worked a great set of Bunny Lee’s rhythms in fine style. All Killer No Filler.

      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'.

      Johnny Clarke

      Don't Trouble Trouble / Version

      Johnny Clarke's 70s roots cut classic declares 'Don't Trouble The Dreads'. Produced by Bunny Lee and featuring tight playing and a fat sound, it appears on 7" here complete with a great King Tubby dub cut on the flipside.

      For the first time ever the mighty King Tubby's productions are presented in 7" box set form. The set features 14 killer cuts from when analogue was king, back to back on seven dinked 7" singles. A collection of the Dubmaster’s best remixes culled from the version sides of Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee’s original 70s 7" releases. These come together with bonus cuts from the first four official King Tubby albums. A 100% one off pressing, no represses, so once they're gone, they're gone forever.


      7" Box Set Info: Deluxe 7" box set with glossy heavyweight hinged card box, 7 dinked 45s, all housed in Jamaican Recordings range bags, with reproduction label artwork from their original pressings, plus 'King Tubby's Story' booklet.

      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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