Today, I’m writing about the works of King Tubby! Not sure how my blog fans feel about this guy; but I consider him one of the great forgotten reggae DJs. He produced some of the smoothest reggae beats, with the smoothest bass. I don’t consider Tubby’s music “dance floor” music per-say; they’re probably more closer to head-bopping music at best.
Real Name Was Osbourne Ruddock
Tubby’s real name was Osbourne Ruddock, and sound engineer was born in Kingston, Jamaican. Tubby had a passion for dub music; and his unique style changed the face of dub music in the 60s/70s era. Despite how much Tubby influence reggae instrumental dance music, he doesn’t appear to be anywhere on the charts. However, I have found small pieces of articles from back in the day, that mentions him in Billboard Magazine. Many of the articles were really promotions; or articles featuring artist’s music dubbed/arranged by Tubby. However, speaking from memory, I guess this sort of makes sense. You see, Tubby died in 1989, and Jamaican/reggae dance music really didn’t seriously explode in America until shortly after the 90s. I think.
The timing of his death was sad, because not only had he contributed so much to reggae music itself, he had several of his own record labels to prove it. “Firehouse” & “Waterhouse,” just to name a few. Yet the music business had completely forgotten about him. Tubby worked with so many artists, I can’t remember them all.
Jacob Miller & Augustus Pablo
However, I do remember that some of his most popular mixes has been from Jacob Miller & Augustus Pablo, just to name a few. To my understanding, just before the end of his life, he purchased a larger and more advanced studio to manage his labels, while also using it to tutor and mentor younger artists who wanted to get in the music business.
Some of my favorite dubs from Tubby are “Western Dub,” “Take Five,” “Me Come To Dub,” “Gaza Version,” and “Staga Dub.” I would like to end this article with an interesting fact. Usually, when an artist give themselves a name like “Tubby,” it’s not at all unreasonable to assume that he more than likely has a belly. However, to my understanding, he was never overweight. His name comes from his mother’s surname, Tubman.
I absolutely LOVE this reggae classic! My only problem is I wish it was longer than 2 minutes and 15 seconds. That is definitely not enough time for a reggae groove like this one! But, then again, two and a half minutes was about the average time for most songs back then. “Enter The Dragon,” was from an album called “Kung Fu Meets the Dragon,” by (then) called “The Mighty Upsetter.” This particular album was a special project inspired by martial arts; I found this very interesting and yet odd at the same time. Because in terms of people from Jamaica, West-Indies, etc; reggae music was still very highly political in the 70s, we just didn’t witness these types of albums (at least here in the states anyway). Although reggae musicians were inspired to sing about damn near anything, this album came out of left field for me 😜
The album was practically all instrumental, and if you ask me, I think this project was some of his best work I ever heard! The album “Dubstrumentals,” was digitally released in 2005, and it includes all of the musical works from “Kung Fu Meets The Dragon,” plus a lot of additional dubs I know you’re going to like. Just about all the music in “Dubstrumental” are smooth ska music. I recommend checking out a piece called ” Samurai Swordsman.”
This is probably my most favorite song from reggae legend, the late Gregory Isaac. The song is called “I Can’t Give You My Love Alone,” released in 1981 by African Museum Records (at least at the time I purchased my LP. In the streaming world, I see a number of distributors, so I’m still not sure if another company owns it). This is another one of those songs that I rarely hear that is both romantic and club danceable (or at least in a formal party danceable). I really love the instrumental/dub version of this song (on side B), but it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere, unless you’re lucky enough to find the original LP. Gregory died on lung cancer in London on 2010.
Alright!!! I am back with another hit from one of my favorite reggae legends Alton Ellis!! Alton reinterpreted a song from “The Guess Who” called “These Eyes.” I loved that the producers kept the distinct baseline the same, and just instrumentally added their reggae accent. Alton’s version is so sweet, you’d think that he was the original performer. I estimate that this song has been played more than 1.4M times on YouTube. Here is the 1969 original The Guess Who’s version of “These Eyes.”