Dub Unlimited: Bullwackies All Stars

Originally appearing in 1976 on Senrab, Bullwackies All Stars collects seven- and twelve-inch releases issued on City Line, Wackies, and sister labels like Upton, Versatile, and Earth. It's dub in all its skanky glory, with echo ricocheting off the studio walls as the biggest bass sound in the known universe (e.g., “Dub To Jah”) snakes its way through an aquatic brew of drums, organ, and guitar. Instrumental contrasts—a honking tenor sax coiling throughout “Black Heart Dub” and The Love Joys' chirping vocals in “Disco Dub”—add interest without ever diminishing the material's dub essence.

Tunes are generally short (snapshots really), grooves are sweet and mellow (“Bullwackies Revenge”), and, at a sleek thirty-one minutes, the album's over quickly. As such, it's not only a master class in efficiency but in economy too: bass phenoms in need of an instructional lesson in tasteful restraint need only hear “Dub Unlimited” a single time to render displays of self-indulgent virtuosity a thing of the past. One presumes that there are endless hours of this incredible stuff stored away and ready to be unleashed every six months or so, much to the delight of dub fanatics everywhere.

February 2006