Scientist Meets The Roots Radics – Selena Records – 1981

Jah Army / Flabba Is Wild / Some Dub / Whip Them / Fighting Radics

Kill The Devils Wife / Jah Is Love / Wa Di Is Free / Best Dub On Ya / Forward Dis Ya Dub

Here is a scratchy old record that I have pulled out for today. I actually wanted to share the ‘World At War’ album on Black Ovation records but sadly that was a little too scratchy so I placed it back into the record racks. I have not put these albums onto a turntable for decades so was not sure which one was the better quality.

The ‘World At War’ album had dubs that pointed towards the issues of today, and considering The Revolutionaries (the backing band on ‘World At War’) performed tracks entitled ‘The Invasion Of Iraq’ thirty five years ago and the cover artwork points to Syria and Iraq shows that sadly not a lot seems to have changed in those thirty five years…

The ‘…Meets The Roots Radics’ album is a fine and sturdy excursion into space and time and is worthy of a listen. My copy is in super blue vinyl!

Eventually the members of Roots Radics, when not backing every vocalist in Jamaica, were performing sessions in London at Basing Street and Southern Studios for tracks to be released on Adrian Sherwood’s ON U Sound record label under various ON U Sound band monikers. Adrian had met members of Roots Radics when they backed up Prince Far I (at that time billed as the Arabs) on a U.K tour back in 1978 which Adrian had a hand in organising.

The text below forms part of an essay on the exploration of dub pioneers on the Dread Library website. Thanks to the moderators of that site in advance of my thieving.

The closest that any other dub artist has come in comparison with Tubby’s deity is one of the King’s past apprentices, Hopeton ‘Scientist’ Brown. The two were introduced by a friend of Brown’s who got him a job working at Tubby’s studio in 1978 as a radio repairman.

Brown relates that he had been building his own audio amplifiers, but when he tried to mix reggae beats, the amplifier would over heat, so he would use King Tubby’s mixing board. He contests that Tubby’s were the only ones to comply with his mixes, becoming “fascinated by his (King Tubby’s) exclusive style of mixing and unique sound effects.”

During Brown’s employment at the studio, he would often assure Tubby of his mixing abilities, given the opportunity. As typical of Tubby’s ‘teaching techniques’, he would simply reply that Brown was too young (15 -16 years old) to know his abilities, and that there were plenty of older men who try to mix for years and never get it. Eventually, when Prince Jammy was out of town one day, Brown’s opportunity came when Tubby offered to let him mix in the studio, to which Scientist quickly took him up on.

From that point on, Brown, who took on the name ‘Scientist’, left his work in the repair shop, to mix in the studio. During this time, Scientist further pushed the limits of dub music, taking Tubby’s equipment to never-before-seen levels, surpassing the lengths that his predecessor had reached. By the time he was sixteen, Tubby introduced Brown to his first producer, Don Mais, with whom he would create his first hit, a mix of Barrington Levy’s ‘Collie Weed’.

Brown recalls that of his experience working with Tubby, the most valuable part was the criticism that he received. Scientist contests that he would whittle away at a mix for hours on end, only to have Tubby react with anything but disapproval of his creation. Tubby would persistently assure Scientist that he was young and had much to learn yet, only driving Brown to improve his styles. It wasn’t until years later that Tubby admitted he had merely been pushing Scientist to test his limits, encouraging him to continue experimenting, and that these early versions had really been excellent. Grant Smithies writes: “…of all Tubby’s many challengers, Scientist was the real heir apparent to the crown.”

A few of the Scientist’s trademark techniques include controlled distortion, choppy guitar, flying hi-hats and enveloping horns that reach previously unattainable heights, commanding that the highest respect be given to his works. In speaking of his career as the most prestigious dub technician that Jamaica has seen since King Tubby himself, Scientist writes:

“…when I would mix a record, I would tek it to ‘im and say ‘Tubby’s how’s that sound? He used to say it don’t really sound too good, but his reason for doin’ that is to let you always keep tryin’ harder. Years after he confesses; he said, ‘A lot of that stuff you were doin’, it was good but I was scared at the time that if I let you know how good you doin’, you probably would have gotten swell headed an’ stop tryin’. He was truly a genius.”

At the end of the 1970’s, Scientist (now also referred to as ‘The Dub Chemist’) left Tubby’s to become the main engineer at Channel One Studios, and working with Henry “Junjo” Lawes, cut some best-selling dub albums, only to leave for the greener pastures of Tuff Gong in 1982.

  1. Jim
    April 10, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    THANK YOU!!!

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