If you're looking for an insightful tour through the best of 70s Jamaican dub, few people would better qualify as your guide than respected dub archivist Steve Barrow . So, wisely enough, the Rough Guides folks have hired Barrow to assemble The Rough Guide To Dub , and he does a boffo job, focusing primarily on the post-production innovations of King Tubby while using sublime - if somewhat lesser known - mix examples of Errol Thompson , Yabby You and Lee Perry for comparative analysis. Although this comp was designed as a primer, it goes well beyond the entry-level material to provide an engaging spin for any serious roots reggae enthusiast. Too bad it's CD only.
Because deep soul great Otis Clay maintains high visibility on the European festival circuit and in Chicago clubs, there's a tendency to take him for granted, but Clay really deserves to be considered the premier hard-singing soul man on the scene. That's well demonstrated on Blind Pig 's new Respect Yourself disc recorded live in Switzerland at the Lucerne Blues Festival, where Clay - backed by his six-piece touring combo - breathes fire into long-time set pieces like Nickel And A Nail, I Just Wanna Testify, Love & Happiness and Respect Yourself that make you wonder why anyone else would try touching them.
Call the Meter men
If there was any doubt about the relative health of the funk scene, the fact that competing Meters repertory acts can sustain careers in Europe seems to be a positive indicator. In fact, the UK-based Killer Meters - assembled by producer Sparo , aka Virgil Howe - have just released A Tribute To The Music Of The Meters (Scenerio/Fast Life), a collection of straight-up Meters covers with an emphasis on the heavy-hitting drums, pounded by Mr. Howe, naturally. Nothing revolutionary here, but those who've always wished Ziggy's drums were a touch more forthright in the mix will be pleased. Coincidently, also just out is a new disc by fellow Meters fans the New Mastersounds , who put aside the stylistic dabbling on This Is What We Do (One Note Records) and get back to the tough 'n' greasy funk instros for which they're best loved.
El Michels at the movies
Perhaps best known as the baritone sax-blowing Cancer with Sharon Jones's Dap Kings (at Lee's Palace Sunday, April 24), El Michels has been secretly working on an El Michels Affair album in his spare time. If the elegantly string-enhanced Creation (Truth & Soul) single is any indication of what's in store, the forthcoming Sounding Out The City album could be a much more elaborate venture than most may have anticipated. The dark flipside, Behind The Blue Curtains, goes for an edgy thriller soundtrack vibe that will have crossover appeal to hiphop heads. Two times dope.