Charles Mudede is wrong about dub. He said last night at the Tom Skerritt Happy Hour that King Tubby isn't an artist but simply a "technician." Sure, he helped create a genre of music, Charles concedes, but he was just "twirling knobs."
King Tubby may have started as the sound technician named Osbourne Ruddock, my dear Charles, but his wooden little boxes of echos and effects were not simply musical processing of a craftsman. He chiseled away the original tracks (choruses, versus, rhythm guitar, bass, drums, organ) to make entirely new tracks, sometimes unrecognizable from the original, in the same way a sculptor uncovers a bust under a heap of rock.
The mid-'60s tracks he started with were lumps of granite, blank canvasses. That is, most of the Rock Steady songs were merely craft. With the genius of Don Drummond gone from ska after that unfortunate incident involving murder, the slowed-down Jamaican genre of 1967 was, while harmonious and pretty, a slapdash combination of US Southern R&B covers with a flat Mento chuck-chuck-chuck on the off-beat. Most of studios were sounds factories capitalizing on a ghetto full of fine falsettos and and boys with stars in their eyes. These songs already had the hand of one technician in the first mix (sometimes King Tubby) but this second pass was not merely tinkering.
Vocals were eliminated, sometimes leaving only the essential phrases or creating new meaning. The bass guitar was introduced as the band leader; other instruments enter and get scuttled off stage at the director's pleasure. Tubby would pare down what had been a veritable hippie drum circle of repetition into a re-prioritized, syncopated conversation of sounds and ideas. He not only did it, he thought of it and built the tools to do it. That's artwork. The knobs were simply the chisel, Charles.
Here's a fine example in King Tubby's Braces Tower Tub, which transformed any song players of instruments sat down to record into a moonscape:
WHERE CHARLES IS RIGHT (Because He Agrees With Me): We agree that King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown is the pinnacle dub album and the penultimate is Super Ape. The former produced by Augustus Pablo and the second by Lee "Scratch" Perry, you should own them both. Charles and I further agree that Perry is the superior producer. Perry took ordinary artists and turned them into history.