Basic Replay – doing my head in

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.


  1. Be nice to have a dub of Sensi Addick – I’ve got some ropey 7 with Prince Jazzbo on the other side. It’s very good, but I want the instrumental.

    Not sure about silencing black voices – are you sure some techno fans just aren’t that keen on anyone’s voice on a record?

  2. i very nearly bought that Jazzbo record recently…but then something more ‘important’ came along. will def grab it next time i’m shopping. my kinda shit!

  3. But it does look a bit weird from where I’m sitting…

    Of course – but you’re sitting on the same table as me in the We Love Ragga Arms Saloon Bar…

  4. I do remember an interview with Calvin Johnson (K Records etc) about his occasional outfit Dub Narcotic Sound System. he basically said – and I confess I’m paraphrasing – that he wanted to use the sounds and techniques of reggae but remove all the reggae nonsense from it…

  5. Not too harsh John, I have met plenty of people like that
    Thankfully some of them “come around”
    One point that needs to be made is that a lot of the Jazzbo digi material is still available…so do yourselves a favour and cut out the middle man

  6. It seems a little short-sighted: you may not like the vocals now, but later..?

    Sorry, what are the “middle men” issues?

  7. I love the versions! Its really hard to get good pressings of obscure digital instrumentals, and this one is incredibly crisp and clean… I wish they’d put out more ‘all version’ LPs from this era (ala the White mice dubs).

    Maybe Id feel differently if I didnt have the vocal versions already though! 😉

  8. The Basic Replay digi re-issues have had multiple vocal cuts.

    Your characterisation of “faceless dubstep / techno milieu” is just silly. Combining the techno audience with the dubstep audience is pretty innaccurate and lets face it, you’re just lashing out really, aren’t you?

  9. The Prince Jazzbo reissue doesn’t have any vocal cuts. As I said at the beginning of the post, Basic Replay’s work should (in general) be applauded.

    However, as Pete has pointed out over at his place, they are the label that people who don’t seem to know much about reggae rave about, presumably because they are also Basic Channel fans. In my experience that is something which dubstep and techno people do – and obviously I am all for dubstep and techno people getting into reggae.

    So there is really no need for you to throw you toys out of the pram on this one, paul 😉

  10. yeah nuff Ujama still available, new tunes are also still being released, Jazzbo recorded more tunes on the sensi addikt: Carl Dawkins, Jahwed&Black Thunda(Skylarkin co-production), Chaplin, Icomstan,.. very soon Ujama enter the cd market to, to make it more available.
    If any request for instrumentals or tunes, dubs link up straight with Ujama at or Prince Jazzbo:
    cut out di middleman 🙂 and bless up Jazzbo fi mi.
    One Love


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