The Dreads / King Tubby – If Deejay Was Your Trade: The Dreads at King Tubby’s 1974-1977 (1994)

“Although Bunny Lee first entered the music industry back in 1962, he didn’t move into production until 1967. Even as he oversaw a string of hits in the rocksteady age, notably with the Uniques and Roy Shirley, it was the roots age on which Lee really stamped his imprimatur. Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis, drummer with Lee’s studio band, the Aggrovators, created the band’s distinctive ‘flying cymbals’ sound, and with it the producer’s 45s stormed the dancehalls. However, without his own studio, Lee had to be particularly innovative to turn a profit, and the producer’s two-pronged solution would change the course of Jamaican music. To save money, Lee utilized the same backing track for a variety of different releases, popularizing “versions,” a trend that continues today and has yet to peak. Second, rather than having his band waste time learning new songs, Lee set the Aggrovators loose on Studio One and Treasure Isle classics, reinventing these golden oldies in steppers and rockers style. Recycling, too, remains integral to the modern dancehall. Lee’s vocalists happily composed new lyrics for these newly resurrected riddims, but in the end, these innovations favored the DJs, and by the ’80s, the toasters had virtually displaced vocalists in the dancehalls. If Deejay Was Your Trade showcases some of Lee’s best chatterers, all voiced and mixed down at King Tubby’s studio. As listeners have come to expect from Blood & Fire, an excellent booklet is included, providing pocket bios of the DJs as well as any other salient information, and identifying each of the riddims. …”

“… So says deejay Big Joe on the opening track on this indispensable compilation of classic mid-seventies deejay sides from the Bunny Lee stable courtesy of a new reggae label inaugurated by Dub Catcher’s very own Steve Barrow. Without pretension to the intrepid weirdness of a Lee Perry, nor the deep spiritual vibe of an Augustus Pablo or Yabby U, Edward ‘Bunny’ Lee’s name may not enjoy the mythical status afforded these contemporaries, but they didn’t call him Striker Lee the Hit Man for nothing. Bunny simply gave the people what they wanted, and those records appearing on his Jackpot, Justice, Attack and Hot Stuff labels, almost always carrying a thunderous King Tubby dub on the reverse, were among the most popular of their day. Listening to this album you feel as if you are right there in Tubby’s studio; Tubbs is at the board and the deejays are lined up and ready. Bunny’s irrepressible spirit fills the room, he knows what he wants and if the deejay runs out of lyrics, well, Bunny will always proffer a couplet or two. Tubbs lines up the tape, Bunny shouts “Go deh now”, and the Aggravators new cut of John Holts ‘Ali Baba’ rhythm cranks out over the headphones. …”
Blood and Fire

YouTube: Tradition Skank, If Deejay Was Your Trade – Listening Samples


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