Mikey Dread: Down & Dubwise
25th June 2019
Title: At the Control Dubwise
Label: Music on Vinyl
Known to punk fans as a producer who worked with the Clash, Mikey Dread was much more than that. He had a broad and multi-layered career and he applied his skills far and wide. For example, he was a DJ on his own four hour weekly radio show on JBC (Jamaican Broadcasting Company) called Dread at the Controls that featured his use of innovative jingles, recorded at the King Tubby studios. Soon after, he would begin to record his own songs with the help of Lee Perry. Combining that with his own production work, Dread launched the Dread at the Controls record label. It was around that time, in 1979, that this album was released, featuring the skills of Augustus Pablo, Sly & Robbie and Earl Smith. Now reissued, it sports a numbered, limited-edition sleeve and transparent red vinyl, it also shows Dread in the DJ studio, doing his thing and is a wholly atmospheric image to boot.
In mastering terms, there is a slight edge to the upper mids with a certain degree of pinching around the treble area. Bass – and this is a dub album don’t forget – is present and correct but never swamps the mix. It has strength but never blooms over the other instruments. So the arrangement is pretty disciplined, even if the presentation sounds a little compressed.
The dub offered here is not a bass-drenched cloud through which reverb-laden vocals roam like lost spirits. This dub is much more controlled and definitely playful and inventive. There’s plenty of sound effects here too, often inserted to keep you on your toes, to trigger a smile and to keep the mood light. That said there’s plenty of head-nodding, hip-swinging deep groove fodder here. If Mikey Dread had a talent, it was in his arrangements. You can tell that his music has been carefully constructed. He doesn’t just lay down a bass rhythm and then freeform over the top. This series of album tracks are mini masterpieces of dub architecture.
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