This week’s working-from-home album is a stone-cold classic of dub: King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown, the genre-defining collaboration between Augustus Pablo and King Tubby.
If reggae music is the source, then dub is the chopped-up end product, where the studio itself is used as an instrument. The scene grew from the high-stakes sound system scene in Jamaica back in the 1950s. Competing systems would try to draw the biggest crowds by playing the best music — or, the newest music. This pushed some producers to forge fresh sounds from existing reggae tracks, taking the key components and manipulating them into an entirely different beast.
These roots then flourished into a fully formed dub scene. Blackboard Jungle Dub, released in 1973 by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s The Upsetters, is broadly thought of as the first ever dub album, but it was the 1976 album from Pablo and Tubby that solidified the genre’s stylistic brilliance.
Pablo was the record producer and melodica extraordinaire; Tubby was the pioneering sound engineer who cut his teeth in the days of early sound system culture. And it was their coming together on this record that made it so special. Pablo’s haunting melodica work and inky basslines were perfectly tempered by Tubby’s studio wizardry, all scattered snares and shadowy reverb.
The best example on this album — and probably the best gateway to dub for any newcomers — is the album’s title track. It’s a reworking of Jacob Miller’s Baby I Love You So. It sounds like a shadowy recollection of the song stored somewhere in the back of Miller’s mind — there’s enough here to recognise the original tune, but the dub version has its own distinctive, subterranean style.
We think it’s an ideal WFH album: barely any words, endless grooves to lock into, and nothing but good vibes throughout. Whack it on while you get through your day — and when you have time check out the video above, which was filmed by the Museum of London and talks to London’s record shop owners on the music that defines the capital’s dub scene.