Black Roots: On The Ground In Dub – album review

BLACKROOTS DUB STICKERED FOD093CDBlack Roots – On The Ground In Dub (Sugar Shack Records/Nubian) Records
4 March 2013

Reggae legends, Black Roots released a dub version of last years On The Ground album. Paul Scott-Bates likes a bit of dub, so he reviewed it here.

I’ll never really understand why anyone doesn’t like dub. It’s like saying that there isn’t at least one Abba song that you really really like. I’ve even witnessed Hells Angels strut their stuff to Dancing Queen before today so everyone likes a bit of dub, yeah?

My introduction to dub was at the age of 13 when UB40, (ironically, a group that I now have almost no time for), released a dub version of their Present Arms album. I remember being lost in awe at the genre. Unfortunately, the release of The Labour Of Love marked a furious decline in my admiration of the Birmingham boys.

Forward to 2012, and Black Roots release their first new album in over twenty years. On The Ground received superb reviews (one of which was on Louder Than War) and it seemed as though they had never really gone away. Now, ‘due to popular demand’, a dub version of the album is with us. Mixed by Louis Beckett (Misty In Roots, Primal Scream, Adrian Sherwood), it’s an album in true dub style, concentrating on full horn sections and the mixing methods of the classic 70s dub style. It’s easy to see where modern day dub geniuses like The Breadwinners take the influence.

From the opening I Believe, this album is wonderful stuff – starting the proceedings with a tight horn section and instant dub sounds, it’s simply scrumptious. Working as a standalone album away from the full vocal version, On The Ground In Dub manages to comfortably succeed with tracks that are worthy in their own right.

Landscape Dub is an absolute dream. Instant dubbed keyboards with sparce percussion leading the way to a floating horn in the background. The sound drifting in and out to make way for the occasional vocal insert. It’s the perfect relaxation track.

Come And Sing Dub starts with a lovely piano and gorgeous saxophone. Slavery Dub has an awesome horn section to start and then completely falls to a dub break before hitting back with the reggae hook. Again, the odd vocal thrown in now and again, but the dubs are perfectly done and move from left to right speakers with dazzling effect.

With all the tracks in either the three or four minute bracket, this album is able to make way for a mighty fifteen tracks. My only criticism, if it’s possible to make one, is that maybe a couple of extended versions might have been a worthy addition – it’s a lousy criticism, I know.

I’ll never really understand why anyone doesn’t like dub.


The Black Roots website is here and their Facebook page is here.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is Heaven Is A Place On Pendle. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.

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