A really sad day for reggae - the legendary store Dub Vendor in Clapham, London, have announced that they will close on Saturday 10th September 2011. According to the website, the August riots had something to do with the change of heart:
“Recent events have accelerated our decision to concentrate completely on online and mail order sales.”
Established in 1976, this was Dub Vendor’s 35th year in the music business. Slightly ironically, the crew were selling tickets for a special anniversary party online and in the shop, so whether this closure was premeditated we may never know. Get your tickets for the dance here (or give the place a final visit). The ‘Sunset In The West’ event was rammed, so don’t sleep!
The flagship store and home to the awesome record label Fashion Records, 274 Lavender Hill, West London, moved temporarily to 150 Ladbroke Grove, where it remained until 2008, closing its doors to the public due to a fall in sales and increase in rent; this is the unfortunate reality for so many independent music stores these days. A potted history here.
Despite the council’s attempt to remove the beautiful mural on Cambridge Gardens, W10, following closure, a petition was signed for it to remain intact, and it will now (hopefully) be an ever-lasting indicator of the good times and fond memories. If the government have their way, it will surely get to a point where anything unique that is independently produced will be replaced by ugly standardised shop fronts and pointless, irrelevant advertising.. .
Above: the Dub Vendor mural, W10
What I find sad is that the store in Clapham Junction was only recently refurbished, integrating the ‘Dub Plates Cafe’ (a small restaurant where you could get some boom Jamaican cuisine) into the front of the shop, while the hits played out back. David Rodigan even popped in once…maybe he lost a couple of his Greensleeves?
Above: David Rodigan (second from the right) gets involved
I know for sure that I’ll miss bopping down to get my fix of vinyl - I have bought some absolute killers from there in the past, singles and LPs alike. Fortunately, as you will see from the initial quote, internet ordering will continue, but I think most (non-cdj) selectas will agree, there is something so appealing and comforting about buying your tunes in person, over a real counter.
Catch DV’s founder, John MacGillivray, on Rodigan’s KISS show tonight, Sunday 28th, 11-12pm, playing five of his favourite tunes and discussing the company’s past, present and future.
I shall leave you with this shockout number from General Levy on Fashion Records:
Kalik (with a ‘k’ at the end) is a ‘Beer of the Bahamas’, which - according to the bottle label - derives from the sound of cowbells heard during the annual Bahamian festival of Junkanoo.
Kalic (with a ‘c’ at the end) is the name of a post-Millennium riddim that is »>
dirty. plain filth!
Sizzla - Girls & Roses
Produced by Winston ‘Wee Pow’ Powell of the Stone Love Movement (label is under the same name), the underlying instrumental is minimal with stabbing drums, but is so godam powerful! Granted, the opening strings are cheesy as fuck, but once the riddim kicks in - who cares?!! Bad tune. It has that Millennium bug, slight obsession with modern technology thing going on - you can tell with those digital blips and blatant computer generated sound effects (I know modern dancehall is so far removed from 60s and 70s dub reggae, but this is in your face much like the French Vanilla Riddim, 2003).
I decided to scrap my old mp3s of this masterpiece, and buy the 2LP which comes with 20 cuts (£13.99, free shipping, great value - this is not a plug, honest!)
It would be nice if I could link a sample of just the version on its own, but there doesn’t seem to be anything online. Maybe I’ll upload it later..
Since I’m reminiscing on that anti-climax that was the year of 2000 and beyond, I need to mention this:
Apologies for the small image, but the above is Scientist’s dub interpretation of the hype around all things Millennium. Recorded straight from the famous King Tubby Channel One Tuff Gong Studios, in Kingston, JA. Not his best by any means, but worth checking out since it is overtly ‘digital’ sounding, if you’re digging that style.
This post, believe it or not, doesn’t stem from any bitterness or anger (although possibly on a subconscious level), neither is it because I have just been cheated on. It just so happens that I’ve been listening to a series of banging tunes that all give reference to infidelity. Don’t worry – this is not in any way a self-righteous, self-pitying rant!
In case you were wondering what had happened to all the roots reggae material, I offer you this. ‘Cheating’ by Earl 16 has some of the most beautiful, soothing and frank vocals I think I’ve ever heard. Combined with the intense percussive crashing and banging of the Upsetters (Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s house band), this track is one of those tunes that seem to work perfectly late at night when you’re in a reflective mood; meditation music..
(I got it on 7” recently, hence the pops n cracks!)
The version is a component piece, stripped bare, screws and all exposed. Starting with everything cutting out except for the vocals and Wurlitzer/Hammond Organ, the percussion creeps in part by part, the piano also stepping in with additional guitar chords. With this method, you can really get a sense of the tune’s structure, especially when big drum rolls are wacked in with prominence (01:25 being one).
Putting in Sami Jo (a 70’s American country singer) is a bit bizarre I agree, and I have to admit, this recording is not the exact same one sampled in Madlib’s production on MED’s ‘Cheaters’. BUT, the melodic shapes Sami creates especially towards the end of phrases such as ‘..wants another man’s woman’ and ever so slightly delaying select words are perfect. For once, I’m really glad I got the wrong record!
If anyone, however, does know who Madlib samples (it’s not the Dee Dee Bridgewater, that’s too jazzy) hit me up!
‘Cheaters’ by MED (short for Medaphor, he’s Madlib’s homeboy) has gota be one of the finest examples of soulful mixed with raw no bullshit hip hop. I could honestly listen to this on repeat for hours.
The first word ‘Eh!’ grabs your attention, his spitting sits nicely above the synths and sampling. Granted, the lyrics are crude: ‘She loves my swagger, love[s] the way I throw the dick at her’ (out to Flobare for decoding this, I’m lyrically retarded) but man, come on, this is hip hop not Puccini!!
Taken from ‘Low Budget Hi-Fi’ (2011)
Buy it, it’s such a strong release, as with the whole Medicine Show collection in fact. You may be too late (unless of course you fancy forking out an extra 40-odd quid) for the limited edition vinylwhich comes complete with Hennessy-infused paintfor the silk screen print on the front cover (I personally couldn’t smell it), but you just have to cop it - standard CD or LP or whatever you can get your hands on, cos there is some simply magical stuff hidden in this album. Golden nuggets.
That said, it’s a little bit frustrating sometimes because he’ll be on an absolute roll with a blinding beat and then it fades out or suddenly cuts to a totally new, unrelated tempo - you just wish he’d keep it going for a decent amount of time, like at least 2 or 3 mins. I’m greedy.
This is Madlib, you gota be grateful for what you receive.
The format is very similar to all the other odd numbered collections in the series (even numbers are mixes, the rest such as this are DJ-friendly, whole tracks unmixed and mostly instrumentals), crossing so many genres and styles with such ease.
You have plenty of soulful infused beats, groovy and funky (which I generally avoid), straight unadulterated raw hip hop, trippy moments with sharp cuts of comical Blaxploitationsamples and jazz deviations (if you’re into that kind of thing, check out Medicine Show #7 ‘High Jazz’).
This short article gives an amazing insight into Madlib’s creative process. It’s not just about jackin’ beats..
It’s come to my attention that Wyld Pytch Records in Soho, LDN, has closed down. This has been replaced by some wack organic vegetable shack also with bright lacquered paint…but clearly no beefy bass to penetrate the streets as before.
This also follows (and I really could not believe my eyes when I saw this) Fat Beats NYandFat Beats LA closing their doors after 17 years serving hip hop heads. Interestingly, their slogan was ‘The Last Stop For Hip Hop’. Could this fortell the death of Rap? Probably not.
In both cases, their online distribution will continue.
I remember getting hassled by an MC trying to push his mix CD in the summer heat outside the NY store a couple of years back. Having previewed his riddims on a portable CD player, discovered how awful they were but been politely dismissive, combined with the fact that I genuinely did not have any loose change, he got funny and responded by taking the piss out my tshirt;
“Dubwise? Dubwise! This dude’s dubwise!” (said in a mocking high pitched voice)
Cha. Inside, I found so many Busta instrumentals I thought my head was gona pop:
It really has got to the point where, when you mention these occurrences to people, they just aren’t shocked anymore. Example: I told Papa Face in Dubvendor the other day, he barely twitched! (however, the usual dialogue shared amongst most old skool dj’s did ensue; words to the effect that mp3’s are inferior, and when you play them out, they sound shit in comparison to vinyl - there is truth in the matter).
Dubvendor should be fine, since someone had the clever idea of removing half the shop and turning it into a Carribean diner named ‘Dub Plates Café’. People do like to kick back, even by Clapham Junction. Ital visions..
I digress. About Wyld Pytch: it is a great shame it had to go. The stock was limited due to the size of the shop (that heavy duty front door really was a pain to get round), but they always managed to order in some fine releases. The best thing I ever got there, and one of my prize possessions, was ‘Beats That Collected Dust Vol. 1’.
So, in mourning, ‘pure Primo’ as brother Elias lovingly described it:
God damn! I never did pick up my copy of Fiddy Cent ‘Wanksta’*
Ghostpoet Flobare just reminded me of this single I bought; the great thing about Wyld Pytch’s owner was, when he let you preview you a tune - HE PLAYED THAT SHIT LOUD!!! As soon as the Wild West stylee muted strings kicked in, I had to have it. Jake One, Doom. Bass rumble:
So, this goes out to all the quality stores that had to relinquish their license to rock. Tunes left lying about, somewhere, unclaimed, collecting dust. You are lost, but never forgotten.
Celebrate it in the memory banks:
*Pls note, I didnt really. If I had placed an order for that, you’d have every right to revoke my DJ license