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Entering the Dragon (Trojan Fan Club)

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After shaking up the U.K. sound systems with a stream of hit productions, Keith Hudson inked a deal with the British Magnet label in 1974. One can only imagine the company's reaction when they were handed Entering the Dragon; truthfully, it's tough to imagine how modern audiences will respond to this set. The album title is a tribute to Bruce Lee, and the title track is a seething version of "Rockfort Rock," intensely delivered by the Soul Syndicate Band. The DJ, the otherwise unknown R. Bagga, who sounds suspiciously like Hudson himself imitating Lee Perry, spatters his toast with kung-fu references and occasional expletives. That was shocking enough, but at least listeners could get their heads around it. What followed was so removed from the reality of the contemporary reggae scene that it defied belief: the sparseness of the backings in a time of lushness; the double-tracked vocals (beating Perry to the punch by several years); and Hudson himself, who could barely carry a tune but packed his songs with emotion. This was reggae from another galaxy entirely. The songs are all relationship-oriented, and idiosyncratic to put it mildly, but for all the weirdness, it's obvious that Hudson was exploring, in his own peculiar fashion, reggae's R&B roots — check out his cover of Maxine Brown's "Oh No, Not My Baby" for proof.

Most of the vocal tracks are twinned with their dub versions, and it's here that Hudson's genius shines, as he toys with the Soul Syndicate's swaggering riddims, throwing the instruments into relief, subtly shifting the mood, and invariably adding a touch of oddness to it all. The bandmembers themselves shine on the album's two instrumentals, with the swampy "War War," a version of Hudson's "Melody Maker," widely hinting at what was to come. The Trojan CD reissue more than doubles the length of the original set with the addition of a whopping 17 bonus tracks dating from 1971-1976, creating a patchwork overview of Hudson's work along the way. There's a quintet of DJ versions from unknowns, although Barnabus presumably is King Tubby's engineering protégé. A pair of covers from singers similarly unheard of before or since are offset by one from Alton Ellis, who's stunningly out of place among these amateurs. Hudson offers up several more vocal tracks, with instrumentals and dubs filling out the set. Without the hits, Dragon makes it easy to dismiss Hudson as an eccentric, self-indulgent loon, especially if this set is divorced from the rest of his catalog. Taken as a whole, though, one can follow his trajectory through R&B, soul, funk, and the blues, twisting insistent reggae riddims to his will, while simultaneously churning out more commercial reggae that ate up the charts. A ferocious talent at work.


Geboren: 1946 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Jahre aktiv: '70s

Ominously known as "The Dark Prince of Reggae," Keith Hudson was born into a musical family in Kingston, Jamaica in 1946. His musical education began as Hudson worked as a sort of roadie for Skatalite and Jamaican trombone king Don Drummond. By age 21, Hudson, who had been trained as a dentist, sunk his earnings into his own record label, Inbidimts, and had a hit with Ken Boothe's recording of "Old Fashioned Way." Not long after this chart success, the suddenly hot Hudson was producing some of the...
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Entering the Dragon (Trojan Fan Club), Keith Hudson
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