VIN GORDON — African Shores (review)

VIN GORDON — African Shores album cover Album · 2019 · Dub/Ska/Reggae Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Back in the late 70s, when a record said ‘dub’ on it, you knew what you were going to get, audio heaven usually, but during the onset of the digital ice age, dub became all sorts of very un-dubby things, finally hitting rock bottom with the horrendous ‘dub-step’. Are you looking for the real deal, then look no further than Vin Gordon’s new album, “African Shores”. Everything on here was played by real humans on analog instruments and recorded with analog tape and equipment. The effects sound analog as well, and quite possibly not computer aided. The end result is pure natural dub, the kind that was prevalent during the reign of Prince Jammy, King Tubby and Scientist. Speaking of those great masters, more than likely Gordon played trombone with them all, plus other greats like the Skatalites and Bob Marley. If his name is not familiar to you, then possibly you know him by his other name, Don Drummond Jr, named after famous trombonist, Don Drummond.

Although some classic dub tunes would get into pop type chord changes and melodies, “African Shores” is in a different style, much more stripped down and hypnotically repetitive. Every song is in a dry minor key, and there are few chord changes. Some songs stay on a single minor chord skank, but that is the style Vin and his crew are going for on here. There is plenty of variation in rhythmic approaches and ensemble make up with some tracks featuring full horn arrangements, while others just short melodic snippets from Gordon’s horn. Many of the tracks on here are done in two versions, with the second one being more dubbed out than the first. The icing on the cake is the jazzy and sometimes ‘out there’ solos from Vin, David Fulwood on trumpet and a couple of saxophone players too. Some top cuts include, “Spill Over” with its infectious funk drive, and the up tempo, “Dubbing Style”, which true to its title carries the most creative and rhythmically connected dubbing effects on the album.
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