It’s been raining here for quite a while, and you know what, it sucks. I need to get my mind to some sunshine, preferably a nice island. How about Jamaica? I thought since I was in that frame of mind, why not pull out a few JA sides I scored on the last digging trip? I got more than a handful, and this particular side I really dug. In fact I’ve been doing some reading as of late, The Trojan Records Story, and it got me into even more of a Reggae mood. Here’s King Tubby & the Aggrovators with “Straight To Andy’s Head” on Bunny Lee’s Jackpot Records. Notice the hand stamped title. Gotta love 45’s from JA.
Born Osbourne Ruddock in 1941 in Kingston, Jamaica, King Tubby is mainly responsible for the Dub sound of Reggae music and the inventor of the remix of records. His early expertise was that of a radio repairman and sound engineer. Tubby, who ran a radio and television repair shop in Kingston, would build large scale amplifiers for the various Sound Systems around Kingston. The combination of the weather and sabotage by rival Sound systems on each other kept him in business. His reputation preceded him, and for a brief moment in time, he ran a short lived pirate radio station (playing ska and rhythm and blues records) before the police almost caught up to him. King Tubby’s Hometown Hi Fi eventually was formed, but not before he went to work for Duke Reid at his Treasure Isle Studios as a disc cutter. Here is where he perfected and invented the remix, and where Dub would be born. These remixes brought Tubby a lot of popularity in Jamaica, so much he would go on to open his studio. His Hi Fi set up was the first to employ separate tweeter boxes. He would also go on to introduce a reverb unit, which helped put out “specials” (acetates) of the Tubby Sound. Although most of the music Tubby was putting out was not his riddims per se, he mixed dub sides for the likes of Lee Perry for Justice and Upsetter, Augustus Pablo for Hot Stuff and Rockers Labels, Glen Brown’s Pantomine, and Bunny Lee’s Jackpot label among others. His studio had a variety of old and new equipment, all working together to create his signature sound. At this time Tubby had acquired a four track recorder, which let him do even more. His mastering of controlling each precise sound (adding more bass or more drums, subtracting vocals), could and would transform the original record into something new. As I mentioned earlier, it was the birthplace of dub. Not only did his new “versions’ of songs catch on with the record buying masses, they became popular in the sound systems, as the people who couldn’t afford dub plates could play them and have their deejays toast over them. King Tubby was not just the master, he was the teacher as well. With young bucks Prince (later King) Jammy and Scientist ,who eventually became the successor to Tubby’s throne after his death at the controls, the Tubby sound went on to even higher levels. King Tubby went on to mix, and create Dub music until the late 70’s. He slowed down in the 80’s, building a new studio, and fostering the new breed in Scientist and Jammy as well as the management of his Firehouse, Taurus, and Waterhouse labels. Unfortunately, King Tubby was shot and killed outside of his home in 1989. While the murder was never solved, it was said that robbery was the motive. Despite his death, the Tubby Sound has lived on through the release of many of his works, plus the legacy he left behind and knowledge he taught the Dub producers of today.
Typical Tubby production, this side is full of guitar, that bobs and weaves out of the riddim. All the while heavy drum and bass keep it moving. It resembles the original, which is Johnny Clark “Left with a Broken Heart”, in riddim alone. Tubby deconstructs it pretty well. I love that you can hear some of the vocals sneak out, even though they are a bit muffled. I picture Tubby behind that board and him pushing buttons and sliding home made knobs on the Fisher reverb. Word has it he did so many modifications that they renamed it King Tubby & Fisher. I like his style. Keep Diggin’!
“Yes, Tubbs, Madness-the people dem like it!”- Bunny Lee
***BONUS: Here is a sound board recording from 1975 of Tubby’s Hometown Hi Fi