Soul folk with a penchant for things Caribbean need to know about a trio of new releases that dig deep into the magical musical roots and culture of those magical islands.

First up – on UMC /Spectrum –there’s a 2 CD, 38 tracker that examines the phenomenon that is Jamaican Dub. First developed in the 70s by a small number of engineers, these sonic experiments took music to previously unperceived levels. Dubbed “Dub” the new sound became one of the most important sub-genres of Reggae and indeed has been embraced by countless artists and producers across all kinds of other genres.

This new collection is called ‘Island Presents Dub’ and it brings together 38 of the best and rarest Dub mixes from the vaults of Island Records. The featured artists number some of the biggest names of the 70s and 80s…. people like Burning Spear, Junior Murvin, Toots and the Maytalls, the Upsetters, Steel Pulse and Aswad…. while amongst the featured producers are Lee Scratch Perry and Augustus Pablo.

All the music’s been mastered directly from original Island tapes and many of the tunes are new to CD.


lintonMore specific is another UMC/Spectrum newie looking at the best of Dub Poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson. Entitled ‘Reality Poems’ this collection features 16 tracks that amount to a definitive introduction to the early music and poetry of Johnson. Linton broke through with ‘Dread Beat An’ Blood’ on Virgin Records Front Line imprint, but he was soon snapped up by Island where a trio of long players (‘Forces Of Victory’, ‘Bass Culture’ and ‘LKJ In Dub’) made him a major force on the UK black music scene.


This retrospective collects key vocal sides from 1979 and 1980 and shows how, for many, Linton Kwesi Johnson, became THE voice for Black Brittan. Always innovative and inventive, this collection is a perfect introduction to LKJ.


jumpThe roots of Jamaican music are explored on a third recommended album. Released on Fantastic Voyage Records, ‘Jump Blues Jamaica Way ; Jamaican Sound System Classics 1945 – 1960’ is a massive three CD, 83 track collection of American Jazz, jump blues and R&B tunes that were hugely influential in Jamaica in the fifties and early 60s when the island’s own music industry was in its infancy. Back then the DJs and dance hall operators depended on infectious American tunes to keep their clients happy and their source was the growing pool of classic Stateside jazz and R&B.

Amongst the featured artists are Louis Jordan, Gene Ammons, Wilbert Harrison, Huey Piano Smith, Chris Kenner’, Johnny Ace, The Clovers, Smiley Lewis and Fats Domino – a particular favourite with young ska musicians.

All three albums are out now