Gussie Clarke goes large with 'Dub Anthology'
Augustus 'Gussie' Clarke is not one to do things in small measures. For example, in the 1990s, his Music Works complex on Windsor Avenue, St Andrew, was a multi-studio facility at a time when producers in Jamaica were generally dreaming of setting up a place to squeeze in a mixing board and a couple of speakers. Then, this year, he did a double handful of versions of Even a Gangster Falls in Love by Kevy the Artiste.
So, what to expect of a dub release from the man who has the catalogue, the studio, and the drive to do one song in 10 different musical styles? Lots of dub, that's for sure, and 'lots' may be an understatement because it is subtitled Over 70 Dubs & Versions. Heck, even the number is an understatement, as there are 24 tracks on the first of three CDs in the box set, 27 on the second, and 28 on the third. That makes 79.
However, it is not overkill, not only because of the quality of the music, but also the organisation and packaging (including images of Clarke in 'buckers' hat days). The first CD is Gussie Clarke Dub Selections and in large part, the sound is brighter and faster than the other two discs. Although the engineers' dubbing effects are very much there. Night Nurse, Let Off Supm, and Police and Thieves, are instantly recognisable titles. But I appreciate the regard to other studios/producers in the four final tracks Randy's North Parade, Randy's NYC, Joe Gibbs Attitude, and GG's Ranglins.
Clarke has a nod to his production company on CD2 in the Music Works Theme, which focuses on Mighty Diamonds Dubs and Screaming Target Dubs, along with some bonuses. With the calibre of the tracks Judge, Bunny and Tabby have laid their voices on, plus the riddims of Big Youth's landmark early-1970s Screaming Target, much is expected and duly delivered. Who can resist the pull of the sound of the chalice being pulled in Kouchie Dub? And even the name Tippertone Rock invokes a time of music magic.
The third disc is based around Black Foundation and Dread at the Controls, and it is here that the slower, analogue sound with even greater emphasis on the sound effects weighs in - check the dub of No No No. The Michael Campbell Theme pays respect to the late dread at the controls - and for good measure, there is Dread at the Controls. Midnight Clappers has the expected snap and the dub deluge closes off with More Reasons Than One Dub.
Notably, Clarke pays respect to the engineers and studios whose work and sound are featured on Dub Anthology. Among the former are King Tubby, Phillip Smart, Bunny Tom Tom, Oswald 'Chunnie' Palmer, Sylvan Morris, Ruddy Thomas and Sid Bucknor. The studios include King Tubby's, Harry, Channel One, Joe Gibbs, Randy's, Music Mountain and, of course, Clarke's own Anchor Recording Studio.
Taken altogether, it is a structured, attractively presented manipulation of sound by masters of the art, spearheaded by someone whose commitment to his business and passion is clear - even to a more recent image of Clarke looking at his glory wall of awards. A poster completes the retro-style packaging.