Thursday, April 03, 2014


Augustus Pablo is a legendary figure in reggae music, widely acknowledged, along with King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry as one of the  prime architects of dub music, which has had a profound influence on hip-hop and electronica. Pablo was also a first-rate producer who launched the careers of such reggae legends as Jacob Miller and Hugh Mundell. He was also a highly-skilled multi-instrumentalist who played not only on his own recordings but as a session man on a number of great roots reggae recordings of other artists. He was an enigmatic figure who rarely performed in public, touring internationally only a handful of times in his nearly 30 years as a reggae artist. His greatness is demonstrated by the fact that two of his albums appear on most lists of the top reggae albums of all time--King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown, widely considered the greatest dub album ever recorded and East Of The River Nile, one of the greatest instrumental reggae albums ever recorded.

Recorded in 1977 and initially released in Jamaica after the atmospheric, hypnotic title track created a sensation as a single release, East Of The River Nile was released internationally in the United States in 1981 by Shanachie Entertainment, following Shanachie's release of Pablo's Rockers Meet King Tubby Ina Firehouse as Pablo's first U.S. release in 1980. The release of these two critically-acclaimed albums propelled Pablo into mainstream consciousness for the first time. These releases began a nearly 20-year relationship between Pablo and Shanachie as the main North American outlet for Pablo's music up until his death in 1999. The enduring beauty of East Of The River Nile stems from its entrancing marriage of rhythm and melody, led most often by Pablo's uncanny soloing on melodica. The release by Shanachie Entertainment of East Of The River Nile on vinyl LP is the first time it has been legally available in vinyl form since 1989.

Augustus Pablo was born Horace Swaby in St. Andrew near Kingston, Jamaica in 1953 and was a teenage prodigy. At an early age Pablo was drawn to the sound system dances and in his early teens frequently cut school to hang out in downtown Kingston record shops and recording studios, absorbing everything he heard. Proficient on keyboards, by chance he tried playing a melodica belonging to a friend's girlfriend; entranced by it, he was told by the girl that he could have it. In young Swaby's hands, the melodica—essentially a child's toy—became an evocative solo instrument. One day he was standing outside Aquarius Studio with the melodica and Aquarius proprietor/producer Herman Chin-Loy, who happened to be searching for a unique sound for a recording, spotted him and asked him to play on a track. The result was successful and soon Pablo was playing on sessions regularly for Chin-Loy, who bestowed on Swaby the nom-de-plume Augustus Pablo, which Chin-Loy had invented as a vehicle for his instrumentalists. Pablo soon teamed up with school chum Clive Chin, whose parents owned Randy's Records recording studio, and scored such classic hits as "Java" and "Pablo In Dub." Early on, Pablo established his own sound system, Rockers International, and his own labels and began  producing both his own recordings and for other artists. He forged a close relationship with King Tubby, the hugely influential producer, engineer and sound system operator generally acknowledged as the inventor of dub music. Pablo's 1975 dub recording "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown" was a huge hit and the album of the same name because a reggae classic. 

Throughout the 70's Pablo recorded prolifically, re-cutting classic Studio One rhythms in heavier style and creating his own original rhythm tracks. His own recordings were either instrumentals, in which lead instruments played melody throughout, or dubs, which moved snatches of melody in and out of the mix. He also produced many great recordings by established artists such as Leroy (Heptones) Sibbles, Dillinger, and Johnny Osbourne, as well as new talent which he frequently discovered, including Hugh Mundell, Jacob Miller, Tetrack, Delroy Williams, Norris Reid, Jr. Reid, Junior Delgado and Earl Sixteen. The release of the single "East Of The River Nile" and album of the same name in 1977 was another landmark. The single, which was a radical re-working of a recording Pablo had originally done for Herman Chin-Loy, was unlike any other reggae recording or, indeed, any other piece of music anywhere.  Its impact was immediate. Pablo continued recording and producing both his own works and that of other artists up until his untimely death at the age of 46 in 1999 from a collapsed lung devolving from a nerve disorder - Myasthenia Gravis.  His work was always informed by a strong sense of spirituality and devotion to Rastafari. Pablo's legacy is multi-faceted, encompassing a number of certified reggae classics, a body of work of great originality and substance, and an exemplary devotion to artistic and spiritual purity.

Release is set on vinyl on April 15, 2014.

~ Shanachie Entertainment

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...