Anima Animus

[B]Don Drummond[/B] had a breakdown in 1965, a year after the group he led, [B]The Skatalites[/B], ruled the Jamaican music scene. [B]King Tubby[/B] was murdered in 1989....

Don Drummond had a breakdown in 1965, a year after the group he led, The Skatalites, ruled the Jamaican music scene. King Tubby was murdered in 1989. And news of saxophonist Roland Alphonso‘s death from illness came early this year. Anyone who wants to hear celestial voices and ghostly echoes will be obliged by this (digitally restored) lost album from 1975, but the truth is that the music remains as timeless as the day it was minted and those involved created something larger than their immediate selves.

In times when reggae is ruled by computers and fiery rasta DJs, it is instructive, if cowardly, to look back to what King Tubby achieved on a mere four-track studio desk. Instructive because the bass and drum grenades on ‘Zion I Dub’ are as modern and visionary as drum’n’bass. And cowardly because the best of the present is as valuable.

Still, Tubby was a major studio wizard, as important in the history of 20th century music as Miles Davis, and the performances he drew from The Skatalites on this, their reunion album as a group, did them great credit. If anything, ‘Heaven’s Gate’ sounds like reggae music heard through the aural equivalent of a prism – instruments meshed and melded with echoes, reflecting back at themselves. An achievement.