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The African Connection

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Album Review

One of the best of Mad Professor's many Dub Me Crazy releases, The African Connection spotlights the engineer's bubbly and spacious dub conception. Foregoing the denser, more claustrophobic sound of pioneers like King Tubby and Augustus Pablo, this successful English producer (by way of Guyana) fills each track with an ongoing parade of vocals, brass, reeds, percussion, and synthesizers. Even though many dub techniques are used -­ echo, flanger effects, etc. ­- Mad Professor (born Neil Fraser) produces a more hyperactive and funky sound than heard on Tubby's methodical sound deconstructions; the Jamaican influence in Fraser's work probably stems more from the slicker and sound effects-riddled style of Tubby protégés Scientist and Prince Jammy. Highlights include the rockers' cut "Bengali Skank," the alto saxophone vehicle "Natural Vegetation," and the trombone-in-dub side "Lion Dance." Working with some fine tracks by his Ariwa Band (featuring the vocals of '70s Jamaican star Johnny Clarke, among others), Mad Professor produces a consistently enjoyable and engaging dub set. Highly recommended.


Born: 1955 in Guyana

Genre: Reggae

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

A disciple of Lee "Scratch" Perry, Mad Professor was one of the leading producers in dub reggae's second generation. His Dub Me Crazy albums helped dub make the transition into the digital age, when electronic productions started to take over mainstream reggae in the '80s. His space-age tracks not only made use of new digital technology, but often expanded dub's sonic blueprint, adding more elements and layers of sound than his forebears typically did. In the mid-'90s, he returned to the basics,...
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