Jim Radway Dub I Review

Released 2008.  

BBC Review

This is a set you ought to seek out.

Angus Taylor 2008

Dub albums seldom stand up that well to sober listening, because the B side to a 45 can feel incomplete without the A side that preceded it. Yet there are a few master-classes in the artform to be found which will impress even the profoundly versionophobic and Jimmy Radway's 1975 release Dub I is one of the lesser known examples.

A gifted painter and former teenage political gunman, Radway cemented his credentials in the early seventies with a slew of killer singles, many of the greatest featuring the earthy anguished voice of former pickpocket turned singer Leroy 'The Don' Smart. According to Pressure Sounds Radway had soured on the music business and Dub I was his final statement before retiring to the countryside. It was mixed by Randy's and Gibbs desk wizard, Errol 'ET' Thompson but its publisher, Micron, folded after only three hundred copies were pressed.

Dub I contains none of the tweeting birds or other pastoral sounds we associate with dub's more blissful moments. Instead the record reeks of the industrial grime, inexorable servitude and darkness of the urban life Jimmy left behind. Organs chatter and shuffle in the harrowing dank of reverb-ed caverns while the drums bass and brass graft like cogs in an oily machine. 7” hoarders will recognise versions to Errol Dunkley’s Black Cinderella, Desmond Young's sluggish monster Warning, plus The Don's Mother Liza and Mirror Mirror. There's also a Radway overdub of Glen Brown's Slaving rhythm entitled Wicked Have To Feel It. Pressure Sounds has added five bonus tracks, which, given Jimmy's unmistakable signature sound, fit in just fine.

There is a tendency among reggae collectors, locked in the cycle of their compulsion, to lionise increasingly smaller talents beyond their merits. Radway, however, was the genuine article: an underrated ghetto producer who gave up at the wrong time to connect with posterity. Even if most dub leaves you cold or bored rigid this is a set you ought to seek out.

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