Leeds-based stepper Tradesman gives us his take on the world famous “Rumours” riddim–first produced by the legendary Gussie Clarke and voiced by Gregory Isaacs way back in 1988–for Reggae Roast’s latest release, Dubplate Fashion. The release features the vocals of the inimitable Parly B–a man who has been making massive waves of late in both the dub and traditional MCing worlds–as well as dubs from well-regarded Nottingham producer Adam Prescott.
Referencing what Reggae Roast defines as “the golden age” of digital reggae production, Tradesman, a producer steeped in the traditions of the Soundsystem culture that is extremely prevalent in his hometown, delivers an extremely crisp and deep revision of the classic riddim, bringing the now slightly dated sounds completely up-to-date. Utilizing whistle-like synth sounds to compliment his tight beats, walking sub-bass lines and digital drum fills/effects, “Rumours” has an extremely confident swagger to it, skanking its way to jah-inspired bliss, reproducing rather than replicating the ’80s classic in fine style.
Parly B, the Mungo’s Hi-Fi discovery who has become a staple on the UK festival circuit this summer, delivers an impeccable vocal track, replete with catchy hooks and an extremely animated delivery that ranges from wails (both deep and high) all the way through the gamut to extremely complicated rhyming schemes and intonations. His ability to ride a beat rhythmically is second to none; this, on top of his original and unique lyrical dexterity, leads me to think that Parly is set to become one of dub’s superstar vocalists in the years to come.
Nottingham neo-dubstepper Adam Prescott steps up on remix duties, providing a re-rub of Tradesman’s riddim as well as dub. His remix, a more experimental yet at the same time traditional revision, hits harder than the title track. Utilizing a faster, more brutal, syncopated bassline on top of a tough 4×4 drum pattern, Prescott brings the tune into major skank-infused dancefloor territory, combining his impressive sounds with a wistful sample of someone whistling and an Augustus Pablo-esque melodica line that really allows the tune to soar into outer space. Prescott also–in a traditional dub fashion–rides his mixing boards like a pro, using his skills as a DJ to great effect, stop-starting the track with punctuations of silence that act like the traditional, upbeat, focused reggae bubble sound–a nice touch that provides a human element to the track.
Both the dub versions of the tracks are good, with Tradesman’s coming out slightly on top due to his liberal dashings of dubby spacial effects that at points recall some of Scientist’s best work. He teases out a slithery version of his own work with delay and reverb treatments that slip and slide over the tight, repetitive loops and pitched vocal snippets that drive the groove along.
Prescott’s dub is slightly less adventurous than Tradesman’s, but this is probably due to the fact he had already dubbed out the track for his remix. So, in effect it acts more like an instrumental version of his remix, which is no bad thing as it is primed and ready for live vocal performances.
Dubplate Fashion is a tip top showcase of what Reggae Roast (having grown its brand almost exponentially since its inception in 2009) has to offer, with three of its most prized assets gracing its hallowed wax. I have no criticism of this really, it is what it is: dub that is solid, big and fun to listen to.