Carlton Patterson & King Tubby

For some people their music career, however long in the tooth they feel towards its end, is only a small part of a life. Carlton Patterson spent about fifteen years in the music business, a long time by any standards but a small part of an adult life. Beginning his working life as an industrial pharmacist (and not the kind of pharmaceuticals normally associated with musicians….) but dropping it once he was rubbing elbows with the likes of legendary mixing engineer King Tubby, he now runs a construction business.

And during that decade or so he became a ‘beknown’, as they say in Jamaica, producer. The system of the time was that the producer would assemble the record by hiring in a rhythm section (and Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare were among the best, with Ansell Collins organ adding class to the rhythm too), then he’d get a vocalist to add the tune and away he went. Rhythms would get reused and recycled over and over with minor variations and smash hits would sell thousands in a week or two before being replaced by the next thing. Every A-side needed a B-side and that’s where this disc comes in. King Tubby reworked those hits into a B-side for each, dubbing madly. Fades, drop-outs, twists, hi-hat additions, congos, echo applied, melodica or horns taped on, bleeps and all sorts were pushed to the master rhythm tape till a new shape emerged. Add to that the odd cheeky rip off lick (like the line of Old Man River in Watchman Dub) and it adds up to quite a lot of fun. Not out and out mad fun like others such as Scientist or Lee Scratch Perry (viz Perry’s insane Cow Cow Skank – go on, guess the predominant sound…….) but always worth flipping the disc for.

Patterson’s work is rarely heard these days outside the obsessive collector fraternity so this is a welcome release for fans of dub’s mightiest period (late seventies to early eighties). For Patterson it must be nice to look back twenty-five years to one of the creative high-periods of Jamaican music.

Ross McGibbon