For ages the Basic Channel / Rhythm & Sound guys have been reissuing the Wackies back catalogue as well as creating their own Basic Replay label for other obscure gems. They should be applauded for this, I think – it’s refreshing to see people rereleasing great stuff with proper attention to detail in these “last days of vinyl”.
Their latest release is a 4 tracker of dubs of Prince Jazzbo’s digital productions. Which are great – he is very underrated as a digital producer compared to Tubby and Jammy. Indeed tracks like Horace Fergusson’s “Sensi Addick” are overlooked minimal scorchers every bit as good as the acknowledged classics.
It just seems a bit weird to me to release the dubs without the vocals. I’ve always been wary of techno fans who claim they like ragga but don’t like the vocals – it just seems like they are skimming the surface at best, or perhaps silencing black voices at worst.
At the Hardwax online store there are pages and pages of “Dancehall Rhythms” where the vocalist isn’t even mentioned (the “reggae” section appearing much further down their sidebar). So this latest release isn’t exactly out of the blue, but it is something I find a bit frustrating and not just because I’m a purist who wants to buy a pristine repress with the vocals intact.
There are maybe some parallels here with the early UK Dub scene – producers who had been influenced by Jah Shaka sessions made primarily instrumental music at first – mainly because they didn’t know any vocalists and were white guys who didn’t feel able to sing on their own tunes – for all the right reasons. But as time went on various connections were made and vocals were cut.
In this case we’ve already had a slew of vocal productions on the Burial Mix label which were to my mind a pinnacle of reworking the dub template. So this seems like a bit of a retrograde step. I’m probably reading too much into it all, and on the upside the release might generate some further interest in Jazzbo’s productions which lead to some further reissues.
On the downside this might lead to even more irksome appropriation of reggae by the faceless techno/dubstep milieu… time will tell.