Linval Thompson and the Revolutionaries ‘Boss Man’s Dub’ (Hot Milk/Cherry Red) 4/5

Born in 1954, singer-producer Linval Thompson first came to prominence in 1974 when he cut his first 45 and enjoyed major success in 1975 with the Bunny Lee produced hit ‘Don’t cut off your dreadlocks’ which also spawned an album of the same name. By the end of the 1970s, Thompson had recorded two albums of dub material, ‘Negrea love dub’ and ‘Outlaw dub’ from 1978 and 1979 respectively. This previously unissued album from the master tapes in 1979 completes the trio and reworks both soul and reggae vocal interpretations to good effect backed by the heavyweight rhythm section that are the Revolutionaries. Of immediate interest to dub devotees is ‘Babylonian dub’ which is a version of Thompson’s ‘Six Babylon’ and is characterised by the use of keyboards over organ with a brief vocal intro that leads into a prominent bassline and the odd sound effect, doubtless taking a leaf out of the Mighty Two’s chapters 1-5 recordings. It is certainly one of the strongest melodies on the set. A more surprising inclusion, perhaps, is that of a dub version to the US soul group the Delfonics ‘La La means I love you’ ballad (the original of which was heard on the film soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Jackie Brown’). This receives a complete make over with the subtle use of horns and dub echo, but essentially the lyricism of the soul tune is retained and it is not the only soulful re-interpretation on the album for Alton Ellis’ evergreen ‘Willow tree’ classic is also successfully transposed into the dub idiom. Freddie McKay scored a hit with ‘Lonely man’ and a pared down version here focuses on a strong bass and drum riddim. More percussive effects are heard on ‘Boss man’s dub’ with some echo effects on guitar bubbling away in the background. Extensive sleeve notes by reggae aficionado David Katz provide some useful historical overview to the development of the dub phenomenon and this includes some beautiful graphic illustrations of label covers and photos from the roots era.

Tim Stenhouse