This album does exactly what it says on the cover. Dubs Unlimited. And not in an artificial way either. This album is made the ‘good old fashioned way’, the way Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry would have done, on equipment he would quite likely have used, on quarter inch 6-track tape and mixed on to quarter inch stereo. It’s analogue folks – Google it!
The Breadwinners is one man, one very talented man, Alan Redfern is from Rochdale (once a town in Lancashire but stolen by Manchester), is barely in his mid 30’s and is quite simply a traditional dub genius.
An album like Dubs Unlimited is actually quite hard to review, not because it’s difficult to listen to, not because it isn’t very good, quite the opposite. It’s an album of superb quality both in terms of musicianship (Redfern plays almost everything on the album, with the exception of the trumpet which is played by his wife, KT), and, remarkable love and respect for the legends of the likes of Studio One, The Wailers, Pablo and even the Radics. The melodies of the tracks and dubbing is simple and wonderous. The (few) vocals are well-timed and well-placed. There are tremendous flute and sax skills from the wonderful Stally, and, even Big Youth (yes, ‘him’) lends his dulcet tones to Joy – which is included on the cd and download.
From the opening The Breadwinner, this album is something special. Through the genius of Hold I Version and When It A Go Dub, to the sublime KT’s Ital Stew and Kawai Dub, it’s all you need for a modern day traditional dub album.
Last month, Alan and King Spinna were guests on BBC Radio Lancashire’s ‘On The Wire’ programme for well over half of the show presented by dub and reggae guru Steve Barker – honour indeed. In fact, Al has also been approached by, and, received the approval of, none other than Sly & Robbie for his recent, as yet unreleased, remixes of some of Gregory Isaacs’ final recordings.
With hundreds of tracks over the last five or six years whittled down to the ones on this collection, we have an album so easy to listen to that it’s untrue. The vision of King Spinna must also be credited for having the confidence to back a young, white, man from the North of England and entrust him to meet the exceptionally high standards he has done with Dubs Unlimited. With the re-sequencing and mastering performed by Kevin Metcalfe at The Soundmasters, this album is one not to miss on two counts – 1) if you’re a fan of dub, and, 2) if you’re appreciative of good music.
There’s only one downside I can see to this album, and, it’s reason not to get too keen to issue your albums of the year list. This should, without any shadow of doubt be in the best of 2012.