Dubrising news

“Dubrising” is almost ready to be sent to be manufactured at Optimal in Germany.


In addition to a regular 33RPM LP, the album will be available as a double 45RPM 12″ pressed on 180g vinyl.


But in addition to this limited audiophile edition, we’ve asked Jacques Golub, to cut / engrave (as opposed to press) 25 copies of “Dubrising” as a double 45 RPM. Jacques is the head of the Kingston Connexion label (by all means check his releases and like him on FB https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kingston-connexion-news/394957567269193), as well as an expert in the rare art of cutting / engraving (rather than pressing) records from virgin vinyl plates. This is somewhat akin to cutting an acetate, except it’s cutting directly on the vynil finished product. Like a dubplate so to speak.


The sound is like from a different planet. Not at all like on the following 7 second clip that Jacques just shot with his phone as he was cutting the first song of the first record!




Sly Dunbar in full effect in the studio

I was in Kingston early January 2016 for a (too) short week or so. As usual when I’m there, I booked a few days at Gussie Clarke’s Anchor Studios and recorded Sly, Robbie, Robbie Lyn, Mikey Chung and my son Joseph (a super guitar player).


We licked about 30 riddims for Bitty McLean, Corner Stonaz (more on them later) and whosoever we will want to voice in the future.


Here is a very rough mix of the mighty Sly Dunbar on three of the songs we did


Gregory Isaacs Tribute

I wrote this the day Gregory died.


Today is a shitty day in the history of Jamaican music: Gregory Isaacs finally ended his sojourn among us mere humans earlier this morning.

246-07 C ³MU² Kingston, Jama•ca, dŽcembre 2008. 246-06 C ³MU² Kingston, Jama•ca, dŽcembre 2008. DSC_0841 Don Gregory Harry J 231-06 C ³MU²_1
He graced us with his presence on Earth for 59 years and gave us 500 albums (yes 5 fucking hundred records) during his nearly 40 year long career. And what songs he did write, compose and sing!!! Of course, the fabulous “Night Nurse” immediately comes to mind, but “If I don’t have you” “Lonely Lover”, “Top 10”, “Mr Brown”, “The Storm” and dozens other hits could be named and they’re equally as good.
He sang mostly about two topics: Love and life in the ghetto. Just those two topics for about 3.000 songs, and yet every one of them had a “je ne sais quoi” that definitely places Gregory Isaacs on top of the Reggae pantheon. He was not nicknamed “The Cool Ruler” for nothing, oh no, not at all! He was supremely gifted, very intelligent and knew exactly what the fuck was going on.
Granted, he was a coke addict, and once shot several policemen in a crack-fueled rampage. But, in addition to being a supremely great songwriter and singer, he was a generous man, making sure poor people living in his neighborhood (one of the worst ghettoes of Kingston) were fed, clothed and taken care of.
On top of this, he liked me, and every time I was in Kingston, he came to say hi in the studio, and not just because I was a white guy with money in his pockets. Even when I had no work for him, he still came and hung out for a few minutes. Class personified.
I had the pleasure of voicing him on several occasions. The most memorable one was in 2006 during Horace Andy’s “Livin’ it up” recording sessions with Robbie and Sly. When I heard the riddim for “I’m Alive”, I thought “Holy shit, this would be perfect for Gregory” (quite often Jamaican artists write songs over already recorded instrumental tracks, called riddims in Jamaican patois). So I called him and he came within the hour in his red BMW, wearing gold chains and crisp clean pants. He stood in a corner of the mixing room, making sure he was not in anybody’s way and just listened to the various riddims we had recorded with Sly, Robbie, Robbie Lyn, Ansel Collins, Dalton Browne, Dougie Bryan, Sticky Thompson and Skully Simms (those who know a bit about Reggae music will appreciate this list of musicians, the others, just be aware you can’t top that!). After a while, he told me that he had a song on three riddims and that he’d be glad to voice them. I was in heaven (even though I’m a producer, I’m still a Reggae fan!!!) and after a quick discussion about his fee, he went straight to the mike and recorded “Poor Man In Love” in just one swoosh. It was hysterical: the man had not written a single word on a piece of paper and had the whole darn song in his head. You could tell he was making the song at the same time as the instrumental track went on. We were able to capture this unique moment on video and around the end of the song, Gregory smiles while he’s singing. The reason was that he saw me in the control room in a frenzy, jumping like a madman. I was definitely under the influence of his cool smooth voice over one of Sly & Robbie’s wickedest riddims and I knew he had delivered a superb song.

After the recording, I had a moment of panic because I realized I did not have enough cash to pay him. With other Jamaican artists, this forgetfulness is bound to lead to yelling and cursing hours on end, a real embarrassment. When I told him the bad news, he said: pay me tomorrow, you cool, man. You cyaan leave the island before you done pay me anyway! Quite flabbergasted by his easy going attitude, I made sure to find an ATM that worked in Kingston that same night and my Jamaican brother Gaylord Bravo (a friend of Gregory‘s in addition to being a top roots producer with whom I produced U Roy and many other artists way back when) drove me at 2 in the morning in the pitch dark night through one of Kingston’s most squalid ghettos to Gregory‘s house. We drove through a maze of shanty town on barely paved alley ways and finally reached Gregory‘s place. A 2 story house, the only one looking halfway decent in that wretched neighborhood, the only one with lights outside. A ghost opened the gate for us, frisked us to make sure we did not pack guns or firearms, and led us to another ghost guarding the entrance door to the house, who then led us to another ghost who looked even more cracked out than the two others and was guarding the door to Gregory‘s office… Gregory was sitting in his big boss armchair, on the phone with somebody. Acting like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, he very affably gestured for us to sit down and hung up. Fortune 500 it was not, but he was definitely conducting some important business. What that was, I did not ask, none of my business… I gave him his money and he said he did not want me to come all the way to that area at such an ungodly hour.


He then told us he’d show us his studio. The equipment was as low fi and as beat up as I’d ever seen, and YET,  when played me some new tracks he was working on, again, I marveled at the Jamaicans’ ability to create music that sounds mighty great with shitty equipment, no money and very little technical skills. Gregory was constantly crafting new stuff. That’s something one’s got to remember about these old school Reggae artists: they never stop until they drop…

So today, Gregory has departed back to his planet where the milk and the honey flow, where love, grace and talent are the norm. All of a sudden, without the Cool Ruler, our little blue Earth feels more overrun by mediocrity, vulgarity and greed… I certainly hope that from time to time, he’ll send news from where he now resides… I sure hope such a place does exist, because angels like Gregory need a place to rest. Some call it Zion…

Sly & Robbie + Nils Petter Molvaer Live – Financial Times review

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wicked shots by Laurent Gudin taken during rehearsals in Hauterives, France

July 20, 2015 6:33 pm


Sly and Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvaer – Barbican, London — review


The drum-and-bass duo and Scandinavian trio gelled easily in a series of jams heavy on texture.

Jamaica and Norway might be separated by several oceans, but when it comes to texture and rhythm, the distance is not so great.

Especially when producer/musicians Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare are at the helm. The drum-and-bass duo teamed up in the mid 1970s and have stuck to a core formula ever since. But their solid bass, springy beats and echoing studio-enhanced textures have proved to be extremely adaptable, supporting major shifts in Jamaican music and countless collaborations.

The pulse was solid at this gig, but here the textured swirls were produced by three heavily computerised Scandinavians. Trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer took the lead with amplified trumpet, doctoring plaintive sustained notes into a high-pitched howl or harmonised lament. Guitarist Eivind Aarset played dense layers of sampled keyboard and occasional bursts of rhythm, while Vladislav Delay, who describes himself as an electronica artist, conjured hisses, clangs, and doctored samples of the gig itself. With Sly and Robbie solid underneath and ethereal on the surface, the combination gelled easily.

 The performance unfolded as a series of jams pitched variously between reggae and dub with some funk thrown in. With bass lines repeated and melody in short supply, the emphasis was on texture and pulse, and these the concert delivered with interest. And if the melodrama of dub was somewhat absent, the evolving soundscapes the band produced held sway.

 The evening started free of bass and trumpet with a mist of textures, a hiss of cymbals and a lollopy side drum roll. The performance ended with a lone Robbie Shakespeare coaxing the audience to get the band back for the encore, “You Don’t Love Me”. Earlier he had also sung, somewhat tunelessly, “Land Far Away” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”.

 Vocals flaws, though, are a side issue. This gig was about resonance and rhythm as crisp, low-tuned rolls punctuated ever-changing layers of sound and fat, low-toned bass supported minute variations in the pulse. And Molvaer stood out for a knockout ballad that combined a scarcely doctored trumpet with the wheezy tones of a sampled chapel harmonium, here delivered by Aarset’s synthesised guitar.


At this point, we’re not authorized to post the concert at the Barbican, so here is the performance in Warsaw, which was broadcast on Polish National Television

Bunny Rugs + Sly & Robbie = Rumours

Bunny Rugs used to call me from time to time to ask me to send him riddims. He had come say hi at Harry J studios during our sessions with Horace Andy in 2006, and had noticed the riddim on which Horace sang “I’m Alive”. He wasn’t the only one to notice that riddim: Gregory Isaacs had asked to voice it too and had recorded “Poor Man In Love” which I’ll release on a 12″ single soon (more details on this here https://tabou1records.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/poor-man-in-love-artwork/).

While on a break during a tour with Third World, Bunny Rugs came down to Paris and spent a few days with us. We would go to the studio and record songs until late in the evening and do it again the next day. What a work ethic: you would have thought Rugs would have wanted to sight see Paris, to party or to shop. No he was interested in only one thing: recording songs.

One of the songs he recorded was a cover of William Devaughn’s “Diamonds in the back” which I’ll post sometime soon. Another one was this blazing cover of Gregory Isaacs’ “Rumours” mega hit.

Enjoy this blazing take, just fresh off Godwin Logie’s mixing board.