Dennis Bovell - Mek It Run

Vargen (Dub For Basboosa)
Mek It Run (Run Rasta Run)
Princess Dub
In Tha Mix
Secret Service
Dub d'Cap'n
Floods of Tears feat. Noel Green
Afreecan feat. I Roy
Binghi Man
Dub Code
Regole Pas
Burden feat. I.Roy
Cross To Bear
Wallpaper Eraser
After The Storm (Tahrir Rock)

Following recent neck surgery Dennis Bovell was under heavy medical discipline, amongst other restrictions there was to be strictly no playing of the bass. Now, more than any musician, the bass player has an almost physical connection to his chosen instrument, umbilical even, so the prospect of no vibration sensation was going to be difficult to deal with for the recovering Dennis. Not one to let such new impede his onward path Dennis came up with the idea of returning to unfinished work in an attempt to distract attention from his enforced low-end bass cold turkey. Down in his musical lock-up lay a stack of boxes containing old 2 inch multi-track analogue master tapes, some dating back to the late seventies; Dennis selected some likely looking titles that never had dub treatment and arranged some time in Neil Fraser's (the Mad Professor) studio as he knew the Prof had every gadget under the sun, there he 'baked' tapes ready for digital conversion via an Alesis HD24 a 24 track, 48kHz hard disk recorder rescuing the sounds from an inevitable oxidisation process that comes with age. At the mixing end Dennis utilises a whole range of outboard gear from old analogue to the latest digital sets, explaining the unique and separate end sounds of the dubs presented on the album.

Of the twenty odd tunes recovered, sixteen are featured on this set, like dubbing on a digi Ouija-board they date from the late seventies through the mid eighties. It was at this time that deejay of the day I-Roy had first come to the UK to tour, and like all visiting Jamaican stars he picked up a local band, it just happened to be Matumbi led by the young Dennis Bovell who spent most of his time between the ages of 19 and 25 working with that most intelligent and prolific of toasters. He even recalls I-Roy's first UK appearance being double booked sold out dates at both Battersea and Action Town Halls! Of course, the pair went on to record the album Whap'n Bap'n together for Virgin an early reggae rap set that the deejay insisted appear under his real name Roy Reid, lest his roots credentials were impaired. The title track from that set is dubbed here as 'Dub d'Cap'n'. The cuts on this album all date from that period featuring Drummie Zeb, Tony Gad, Jah Bunny and John Kpiaye; Dennis had also received some drum samples of Style Scott, from Channel One in Jamaica, that were then edited to create early loop patterns, all innovations straining at the technical door soon to be broken down by the digital revolution.

The track 'Burden' featuring I-Roy in early singjay style - unlike Big youth he could hold a tune - was a version of the old gospel standard 'Down By The Riverside' that at the time was felt a little too old fashioned to release, especially with its echoing double-tracked harmonies from the deejay.

Times have changed to the extent that gospel is now hip, so now we have the version 'Cross To Bear' alongside the vocal, Dennis recalls on the track titled here as 'Afreecan' I-Roy used the lyric to Hugh Mundell's 'Africa Must Be Free' and had to persuade the deejay it was not such a good idea to do that in 1984, on this remix it's dubbed out. 'After The Storm (Tahrir Rock)' is a version of 'Zombie Zones' that appeared on a previous Pressure Sounds Dennis Bovell dub compilation Decibel: More Cuts And Dubs 1976-1983 (PSCD39); it marks the fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt so the sirens, explosions, wails of ambulances, a news actuality samples suddenly bear a direct relevance to the dub. The self immolation of Tarek al-Tayyeb Mohammed Bouazizi aka Basboosa is regarded as the trigger of the Tunisian Revolution and in turn the Arab Spring, here Dennis pays tribute with 'Vargen (Dub For Barboosa)' utilising the cry of a lone wolf in the striking opening sequence.

All flute dubs must hold a special place in the reggae sub-genre and so it is with 'Dub Code' where the instrument is courtesy of one of Dennis Bovell's longtime collaborators, saxophonist Steve Gregory, the man who played the sax on George Michael's 'Careless Whisper' and has backed Van Morrison, Georgie Fame and Dusty Springfield amongst many others. The album's title 'Mek It Run' is actually a re-recording of 'Run Rasta Run' (see 'Don't Call Us Immigrants' Pressure Sounds PSCD28) an old tune originally released in 1976 on Buster Pearson's KB label under the name of African Stone, basically Jah Bunny on drums and Dennis on vocals and everything else! An interesting side note here is that the original of 'Run Rasta Run' provided the basis for 'Rosie' a track on The Emergent EcleKtic a modern gospel album issued by Dennis' son Bobby in 2011. 'Floods Of Tears' appeared first as 'Raindrops' bearing a heavy steppers rhythm on a More Cut seven inch credited to Dennis Matumbi in 1977; the remake in the early eighties was the result of interest from Richie Stevens, the son of the great UK jazz drummer John Stevens, though the horn section was left out of the mix initially it reappears here to great effect along with electronic syn drum.

'Saxophonagravaparachutareggae Dub' features the sound of Bucky Leo, the London-based jazzman and afrobeat specialist who can usually be found jamming at the Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park; freshly dubbed this year Dennis - known to be fond of the odd tall story -  claims the track's title was inspired by the story of a person who jumped out of an airplane playing a saxophone and landed in a gravel pit generating one of the longest words in the dictionary, Dennis imagined him to be jamming to a reggae rhythm as he fell to earth...

Steve Barker - On The Wire - May 2012

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