Living Dub, Vol. 6
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2007, Volume 14, #10
Written by John Metzger
Sat October 13, 2007, 07:10 AM CDT
Like the blues, reggae is, at its core, a simple, yet extremely versatile form of artful expression. It’s very easy to play, and over the years, many have taken a stab at making it their own. Those who excel at performing reggae, however, are few and far between, and their success largely is tied to how convincingly they are able to relay the emotions that lie beneath the surface of their work. Forays into dub, reggae’s rhythm-driven offshoot and frequent companion, are even harder to turn into something magnificent. Essentially, dub songs are created by manipulating other tracks, and they are meant to be played in dance halls and clubs. Although there are exceptions, the results arguably can only be as good as the components of the source material, and too often, the dub renditions are unimaginative, tedious, and dull.
In an attempt to preclude others from commandeering and subsequently savaging his work, Burning Spear has been issuing his own dub-oriented collections for some time now. His latest effort Living Dub, Vol. 6 is a track by track reworking of Freeman, his 2003 endeavor. Much like he did with the other installments in the series, Burning Spear disassembles and reconstructs his songs in ways that examine and illuminate them from a variety of angles. Within his new arrangements, it’s possible to hear how reggae grew from early, New Orleans R&B as well as how it crept through the guitar tones employed by Jerry Garcia. It equally is apparent how connected reggae is to African shores and how much dub influenced The Clash and The Police during the late ’70s and early ’80s.
In crafting Living Dub, Vol. 6, Burning Spear built more than just a series of rhythmic grooves. He also retained bits and pieces of his melodies, which he then threaded through the pensive, meditative patter in order to conjure a series of moody, psychedelic dream states. Dotted with organ and splashed by horns, Dub We Feel It exudes a peaceful aura that is both beautiful and graceful, while the hypnotic beats and flickering guitars of Trust Dub serve as a spiritual beacon. Elsewhere, as horns laugh playfully and percussion dances around the fringes of Dub Ha Ha, the listener is beckoned to enter the space between the curling guitar licks and throbbing bass lines, and the dangerous edge of Dub Rock and Roll is countered by its gently swaying cadence. Granted, there’s nothing about Living Dub, Vol. 6 that is going to supplant Freeman’s relevance or importance, but it nonetheless stands on its own accord as a compelling reminder of Burning Spear’s bold, artistic acuity. ˝
Living Dub, Vol. 6 is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box