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A Ruffer Version: Johnny Clarke At King Tubby's 1974-1978

Johnny Clarke

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Album Review

Jamaican roots reggae crooner Johnny Clarke had a hot streak from the moment he dropped his first dub-friendly crossover track, "None Shall Escape the Judgement," in 1974. Teaming hitmaking production from Bunny Lee and skilled engineering from dub innovator King Tubby, A Ruffer Version: At King Tubby's 1974-1978 collects the brightest gems from Clarke's halcyon days of smoking-hot singles and pairs them with Tubby's explosive dub remixes. Highlights are many over the course of the collection's 23 tracks, including the bass-heavy Rasta rhythm hymn "Enter in His Gates with Praise" and the classic ska-touched slink of "Move Out of Babylon Rastaman." As was the case with many hits from the era when dub was dawning, multiple versions and remixes were cut of the same rhythm tracks with different vocalists, lyrics, or instrumentation comprising very familiar but ultimately brand-new songs from the base elements. Ruffer Version has some moments when it milks an awful lot of different angles out of a single rhythm, as with four different takes on the basic framework of "None Shall Escape the Judgement," but all told, the repeating grooves lend themselves to the creation of a hypnotic state before they become grating. Clarke's smooth voice competes for top billing with Tubby's blasted production style, and several of the tracks included here are nothing short of essential to anyone even remotely interested in Jamaican music.


Born: January, 1955 in Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of Jamaica's most outstanding vocal talents, Johnny Clarke has never achieved the international acclaim of some of his compatriots, and he even fell from favor in his homeland in the 1980s. However, in his heyday, during the mid- through late '70s, the singer recorded a stream of crucial cuts, as well as a bundle of seminal albums. Clarke has also had an inestimable impact on the dancehall scene, which in his day was still the preserve of DJs. His ability to write new lyrics, mostly in a cultural...
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A Ruffer Version: Johnny Clarke At King Tubby's 1974-1978, Johnny Clarke
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