the ethiopians – engine 54
the gladiators & sound dimension – tribulation version
little john – make a way
joe gibbs & the professionals – the entebbe affair
bob marley & the wailing wailers – hypocrite
dennis alcapone – king of the track
scotty – children children
cocoa tea – girl go home
eccleton jarrett – turn onthe heat
lady ann – tony gone
ninjaman – legalize the herb
ini kamoze – hot stepper
cocoa tea – good life
the heptones – party time
coldcut & on-u sound – everyday another sanction (dub)
jah lloyd – sunshine girl
ken boothe – artibella
the heptones – love won’t come easy
earl sixteen – jah jah is the master
glenn brown & king tubby – version 78 style
bounty killer – if a war
ninjaman – permit to bury
panhead – gunman tune
cocoa tea – lost my sonia
josey wales – leggo me hand gateman
shy fx feat chronixx – bye bye bye
lee van cleef – different fashion
lone ranger – badder dan dem
sister verna – mini van
keith blake – woo oh oh
phyllis dillon – perfidia
alton ellis & u-roy – ain’t that loving you
sugar minott – oh mr dc
kabaka pyramid & chronixx – lyrical anomaly
poor righteous teachers – strictly mash’ion
bob marley & the wailers – them belly full (but we hungry)
u-brown – weather balloon
the abyssinians – declaration of rights
lone ranger – judge not
field marshall haye – roots & herb style
admiral tibet – trouble to a man
garnett silk & charlie chaplin – every knee shall bow
nicodemus – suzie wong
johnny osbourne – rub a dub
half pint – substitute lover
prince buster – don’t throw stones
al barry – morning sun
ken boothe & stranger cole – artibella
sound dimension – time is tight



The title of this mix is a bit of reverse engineering and a peak into how my weird brain works. I’ve always loved the cover illustration of Ranking Joe’s 1981 “Disco Skate” LP, and I was determined to steal it for my next reggae mix. But I needed some kind of title that alluded to the roller skates. Because what do roller skates have to do with reggae? So I came up with “Roll Call”. Doesn’t really make sense but it’s close enough. Then I needed some kind of alliteration, and “Rub-A-Dub” had the less-exhausting ring than “Roots Rock Reggae”. But you would be correct in pointing out that this tracklist is not in any way strictly rub-a-dub. Please forgive me for the false advertising.

Engine 54 – Kicking things off with side A Track 1 of The Ethiopians 1968 album of the same name. This record also includes what is arguably their most enduring hit, “Train To Skaville”. I love the random train SFX added by producer/manager Garnet Hargreaves. The band originally consisted of Leonard Dillon, Stephen Taylor and Aston Morris. Dillon had previously released some mento tunes under the name Jack Sparrow, and Peter Tosh got him an audition for Coxsone Dodd at Studio One. But Dillon quickly realized he’d have better luck forming a vocal harmony group to capitalize on the popularity of Rock Steady. Their career took off when they moved over to the WIRL Label, with Lynn Taitt and the Jets backing them and Lynford Anderson (“Pop A Top”) at the controls.

Tribulation Version – A slightly dubby version of the Gladiators track. This is on the well-traveled “You Should Have Known” riddim, originally recorded by Jimmy Riley and The Three Tops in 1968. That track was itself a cover of Cornell Campbell and the Sensations tune of the same name, recorded for Treasure Isle in 1966 – but the original had a very different melody. Like The Ethiopians, the Gladiators were another Rock Steady vocal harmony group that got their start at Studio One. But they had their biggest success as a Roots Reggae act in the 1970s.

Make A Way – Fast forward to 1982 on the same “You Should Have Known” riddim. Little John was among the first dancehall “singjays”, getting his start with Sugar Minott’s Youthman Promotion Soundsystem. Later his put in work with Kilimanjaro, Gemini, Volcano Hi Power, and his own Romantic Hi Fi.

The Entebbe Affair – Digging into some classic material I often shy away from, this is Joe Gibbs & The Professionals with their 1978 take on one of Bob Marley’s early B-sides. I just love the weird sci-fi keyboard sound, but as soon as you hear the backup vocals, you want to hear the original. So, without further ado…

Hypocrite – This was the B-side to Bob Marley’s “Nice Time” 7”, released in 1966 on their own label, “Wail N Soul M”, when they were still rocking’ steady and calling the band The Wailing Wailers. The opening lines puzzled me for a very long time:

“Dip for diplomatic. Hyp for hypocratic. Dry for dry-land tourist. Top for Tapanaris”

Dry land tourist is a derogatory term for folks who have never been off the island, but carry themselves otherwise. Makes sense. “Tapanris” was JA slang for the ruling class. If any Yardies want to further illuminate the origin of that, I would be most grateful.

King of the Track – Dancehall OG Dennis Alcapone in 1971, riffing over the John Holt tune “Stick By Me”. This came out on the Jack Pot label, with Bunny Lee’s Aggrovators as the backing band. The John Holt hit was a cover of Shep & The Limelites – Stick By Me I’ll Stick By You (1963)

Children Children – Thus begins a quick juggle of three tunes on the “Tonight” Riddim. First up is some proper toasting over the original Keith & Tex track from 1967, courtesy of Scotty. You will remember him from his “The Harder They Come” Soundtrack classic, “Draw Your Breaks”, which he opens with a cryptic declaration “Forward and payaaka, manhangle and den go saaka”. “Payaaka” was old slang for hawking, and meant to take away another man’s woman. “Manhangle” is simply manhandle. And Saaka was slack for fucking. So go take that man’s woman, and then you two get down to business LOL. Scotty started out in a group called The Federals, then formed The Chosen Few, who scored their first hit in 1970 with Psychedelic Train. Derrick Harriott guided Scotty through those two groups and Also produced this track.

Girl Go Home – This Cocoa Tea take on the same riddim was a big hit in Brooklyn when I first started getting into Dancehall around 87. This came out on the Jammy’s label, which was kinda running things in those days – before before Bobby Digital left to form Digital-B. The real Bobby Digital, mind you, not that fake-ass biter RZA. Produced by King Jammy himself, with Steely & Clevie arranging.

Turn OnThe Heat – Same year. Same label. Same track. This is probably Eccleton Jarrett’s biggest hit, and definitely the track he would voice dub plates on for sound systems like Saxon (UK), Downbeat (NY) and King Tubby’s (JA).

Tony Gone – Keeping it 80s for a minute, with an LP cut from Lady Ann on the classic “Party Time” riddim. Lady Ann got her start as a teenager in the late 70s with her childhood pals Barrington Levy, Little John, Tristan Palmer and Toyan. Not a bad crowd to run with. She performed with Little Jaro sound system, which I can only assume was an offshoot of Kilamanjaro. She released two albums in 1983, and this was on the B-side of the “Vanity” LP, produced by Alvin Ranglin.

Legalize The Herb – One of the 80s top deejay’s, Ninjaman, throwing his hat in the ring with an ode to ganja. His tracks sort of all sound the same, because he basically just talks through the verses. As a selecta, his tunes were always kind of a bitch, because you could never remember when the chorus was gonna come in (for you to start blending in the next tune). But he always wrecked the party, and I highly recommend you check out some of his hilarious performances from Sunsplash and various clashes on Youtube. He was unbeatable at his peak.

Hot Stepper – One of my all time favorite dancehall tracks, from Ini Kamoze. This came out in 1994, and essentially revived a career that had been dormant since the “Wold A Music” days with Sly & Robbie. It was remixed by Salaam Remi a year later, and became a huge international hit. But this is the real version, and you know this, star.

Good Life – More Cocoa Tea niceness. Like the previous track, this song is a 90s classic. Both came out on Philip “Fatis” Burrell’s Exterminator Label, and the production is really warm and lovely. This one took the horns from The Heptones original, to give it a more throwback sound – and it was a lovers rock favorite all over NYC.

Party Time – As I like to do on these mixes, this is the foundation track for this riddim: The Heptones Studio One classic from 1968. Coxsone Dodd at the controls. The Heptones were one of the biggest groups of the rock steady era, and chief rivals of The Techniques. They re-recorded this track in 1977 with lee Scratch Perry when they signed to Island Records. The later version sounds pretty weird, but I always like the double-time kick drum tracks.

Everyday Another Sanction (Dub) – I came across this album randomly on some blog and I though this dub was pretty dope. Coldcut is the legendary duo of Jonathan More and Matt Black. They started releasing club records in 1987, and I always tried to work tracks like “That Greedy Beat” into my club sets in those days, as they had a distinctly British take on Hip Hop and sampling that always kept the party moving. They went on to produce a ton of massive remixes and later founded the Ninjatune label. This LP was made for Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label, an equally revolutionary force in UK dub and left field club music.

Sunshine Girl – a cover of Bill Withers from, 1972 by Patrick Lloyd Francis aka Jah Lloyd aka Jah Lion aka The Black Lion of Judah. He was a singer with the Mediators in the mid-60s and both a producer and deejay in the 70s, working with The Mighty Diamonds and Lee Scratch Perry, who dubbed him Jah Lion. There’s also a nice cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Horace Andy that I  almost put on this mix, but I lean towards the toasters, not the singers, so it is what it is.

Artibella – Ska pioneer Ken Boothe got his start making hits with Stranger Cole in the early 60s. He was greatly influenced by Owen Grey, who himself made some very early tracks with Prince Buster n dem. This was a ska tune first, and then later re-recorded as a more roots reggae tune in 1970, when Ken had gone solo. Keep an ear out for the ska version towards the end of this mix. Both are great, but with a very different vibe.

Love Won’t Come Easy – Another beautiful Heptones tune that Leroy Sibbles re-recorded in 1979 as a solo artist, with Augustus Pablo. You can hear Augustus’ signature melodica here and there, and there’s a more complete dub version on his album “Original Rockers”. More than just a singer, Leroy was an accomplished bass player and arranger – and is the creator of a great many foundation riddim basslines like “Full Up” (Pass The Dutchie) and “MPLA” (Buju’s “God Of My Salvation”), to name but a few.

Jah Jah Is The MasterEarl Sixteen dropped out of high school to audition for Duke Reid with his group The Flaming Phonics, but was promptly ejected from the studio due to his habit of busting off gunshots in the vocal booth (!!!). Or so the legend goes. As a solo artist, he worked with a ton of producers in JA before ending up in England for his first solo LP in 1980 with Mikey Dread at the controls. This is from a UK compilation LP called “Master Showcase” that came out that same year and featured Roots Radix, King Tubby & Scientist, among others.

Version 78 Style – An absolutely KILLER 1978 double-time instrumental from Glenn Brown & King Tubby. This was the B-side to an obscure cut by Jah Joe called ”Love On The Scene”, and was also used on Sylford Walker and Welton Irie’s “Deuteronomy”. One day I will make a mixtape of just these uptempo dubs, that seem to instantly transform roots reggae from mellow to high-energy, simply by adding a kick on the 2 and 4.

If A War – Fast forward to 1995, when Bounty Killer dropped this badness with King Jammy on the “Soap” riddim, which had a relatively short life in the dance around 1991. Bounty’s voice is still wicked to me. One of the best to ever do it.

Permit To Bury – One of the riddim’s biggest tunes, from Ninjaman, who tears this up. If you watch that video of Ninja VS Shabba that I linked above, you’ll see just how big this tune was for a hot minute.

Gunman Tune – Another big Soap tune, from Panhead – who is probably best known for his camel toe anthem, “Punny Printer”, back when every song had to reference pum pum shorts in some fashion LMAO.

Lost My Sonia – There is a helluva lot of Cocoa Tea on this mix. I guess I was just feeling the singers a bit more than usual, and he always delivers. This is on the “Mad Mad” riddim, which originated with Alton Ellis from his Rock Steady tune that came out in 1968. The tune became hugely influential in the 80s, after being revived by Henry Junjo Laws on Yellowman’s “Zunguzunguguzunguzeng” (among others), which was sampled by BDP on the “Remix for The P is Free”, and the whole melody lifted for Junior Mafia’s “Player’s Anthem” among many others.

Leggo Me Hand Gateman – One last Josey Wales tune on Mad Mad, about desperately trying to get into the club. And please recognize the restraint I am employing by not also dropping Tenor Saw’s “Golden Hen” or Michigan & Smiley’s “Diseases” or Shinehead’s “Rough & Rugged”. It’s hard out here for a pimp.

Bye Bye Bye – Amidst all these dusty old gems we find a brand new-ish 2019 song from Shy FX & Chronixx. This dude always brings it, and strikes s great balance between Studio One vintage sounds and the modern world. Impossible not to dig his stuff IMO.

Different Fashion – Three tunes on the Shank I Sheck riddim, which goes back to Baba Brooks in 1964. Lee Van Cleef dropped this in 1980, around the time that Rub A Dub was really hitting it’s stride. It’s kind of impossible to listen to this and not start bouncing your shoulders to the way he double times his vocals.

Badder Dan Dem – Yes, this Lone Ranger track is the predecessor to Eek-A-Mouse’s worldwide hit “Wa Do Dem”. Lone Ranger never disappoints.

Mini VanSister Verna released just a handful of 7”s in the 80s on the Zorro, Photographer and Gorgon labels. You can read about my crackpot theories on Jamaicans’ obsession with the Gorgon in the liner notes of THIS MIX.

Woo Oh Oh – Back to rocking steady, with Keith Blake’s 1968 hit, produced by Joe Gibbs. Keith was briefly in a group called The Leaders, before going solo with Gibbs. He found Rasta around 1970, renounced all worldly possessions, and spent several years off the grid with the Bobo Dreads in Prince Emmanuel Edwards‘ camp at Bull Bay. When Capleton and dem sing about Emmanuel, this is who they are talking about. When he re-emerged in the mid-70s, he was called Prince Alla, and he started a new career as a roots reggae artist, working with Teddy Powell, Bertram Brown and Tappa Zukie.

Perfidia – A wonderful cover from Phyllis Dillon of the Mexican Bolero classic, originally recorded in 1938 by Lupita Palomera. It first became a hit for Xavier Cugat in 1940, and has been covered and reinterpreted and translated the world over ever since.

Ain’t That Loving You – The foundation tune for this riddim of the same name, performed by Alton Ellis with U-Roy toasting pon top. Recorded with Tommy McCook for Duke Reid in 1971.

Oh Mr DC – My man Sugar Minott takes a turn on the riddim, lamenting a run in with a “DC” aka a District Constable – while holding some colly. Fifty cents a stick, and a dollar a quarter. Those were the days…

Lyrical Anomaly – I first came across Kabaka Pyramid on Max Glazer’s Federation Sound show on Red Bull Radio in 2018. His lyrical skill was impressive, and he really lets loose on this track with Max’s boy, Chronixx. Kabaka is definitely creating a new blend of dancehall and Hip Hop here, spitting a relentless flow that feels more like a stream of consciousness battle rap than a dancehall track. More of this, please.

Strictly Mash’ion – Speaking of reggae-fied rappers, New Jersey’s Poor Righteous Teachers were among the first rap groups to really lean into their West Indian roots. I was a massive fan of theirs when they first dropped, and I always loved the way they sampled Bob Marley here.

Them Belly Full (But We Hungry) – Had to play the original tune, from Bob Marley & The Wailers‘ utterly flawless “Natty Dread” LP, from 1974. This was his first record after parting ways with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. I think most would agree that the split was destined to go down, since all three of them were such strong song writers and performers and personalities that it was essential for each to go solo, to reach their full potential. And the world of music is better for it.

Weather Balloon – Some 1978 meteorological business from Huford Brown aka U-Brown, who grew up two doors down from Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle studios. He cites King Stitt and Lord Comic as early influences, but you can really hear how much he mimicked the great U-Roy too. He got his start with Silver Bullet Soundsystem in 1968, but his real break came when U-Roy got into a car accident and Huford got to fill in for him with King Tubby’s Sound. This lead to a friendship with his idol, U-Roy, and several hit records – before producing his own debut album in 1979, of which this is the title track.

Declaration of Rights – This was the 1969 follow up single to The Abyssinians massive debut hit, “Satta Massagana”. It spawned a riddim of the same name that has endured well into the 21st Century. Leroy Sibbles on backup vocals. At the time, Coxsone Dodd had refused to release his recordings of them, worried that their fierce Rasta message was too radical. But once their records became hits, he promptly started making his own versions with various singers and DJs.

Judge Not – This Lone Ranger tune was a natural go-to record following the last, since its on the Satta riddim (originated by the Ethiopians), and is very much in the same vein and vibe, despite this tune coming out about 10 years later.

Roots & Herb Style – “Stalag” is one of those riddims every DJ in NY played to death in the 80s and 90s, myself included. So I tend to leave it alone these days. But every now and then I’m reminded there’s still so many gems on it that I never get to hear, like this quick juggle that starts with Field Marshall Haye. Unlike the Winston Riley recordings with Tenor Saw n dem from 1985 on the Techniques label, this was on Studio One, around 1980, with the Brentford All Stars backing.

Trouble To A Man – From those aforementioned 1985 sessions, with Admiral Tibet adding a little consciousness into the dancehall era, which he was always known to do. He started chatting with Torpedo Sound in St Mary’s Parish before moving to Kingston and getting his recording career off the ground. You would know him from his biggest hit, “Serious Time”, which was a massive hit in Brooklyn in 1987.

Every Knee Shall Bow – 10 years later Garnett Silk & Charlie Chaplin revived the Stalag riddim on Digital B for yet another round of tunes. This came out a year after Garnett’s untimely death, trying to save his own mother from her burning house. Playing his records around this time in the 90s was kind of interpreted as a sign of respect for his contributions to the dance.

Suzie Wong/Rub A Dub – My man Bobby Konders did his own Stalag Session in 95, and these were always in rotation in my sets that year. I played the verse from Nicodemus and the chorus from Johnny Osbourne.

Substitute Lover – One last lovers rock rub a dub before I wind us up and out of here. This was a big hit in 1992 for Lindon Andrew Roberts aka Half Pint, one of the great singers of the 80s and beyond. He came up with Black Scorpio, Jammys, Gemini, and Killimanjaro, and is best known for his dancefloor riot-inducing “Greetings” from 1986, which pretty much never left my crates for about 20 years. You can really hear the Barrington Levy influence on this tune.

Don’t Throw Stones – Big big rewind back to 1966 for Prince Buster’s message to all you rudies. This recording is so pristine, it’s almost hard to believe it’s that old, considering how muffled and lo-fi so much of the early Ska tends to sound. Maybe they cleaned the Tascam heads that day, or some shit.

Morning Sun – A much-sought-after UK release from 1969 from Al Barry & The Cimarons. Al was a member of The Aces, Desmond Dekker’s backup singers. You may remember this from the awesome 2006 British Skinhead movie “This Is England”, which evert rude boy & girl should see.

Artibella – I mentioned this earlier when I played the smooth version. This is the original Ska jump-up, with Ken Boothe & Stranger Cole, and it fucking RULES.

Time Is Tight – Jamaica’s love of Stax records is no secret, and this Sound Dimension rendition is as fine a cover as any, and a great way to end this mix, if I do say so my damn self. Peace, dub & unity. Thanks for listening!

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