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In Fine Style

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Album Review

London's Pressure Sounds label followed up their El Rocker's compilation (an excellent introduction to the musical vision of Augustus Pablo) with this set of rare 7" and 12" sides from the Jamaican innovator. Songs are grouped by rhythm, with multiple versions of seven Pablo productions making up the 17 tracks here. Because of this, In Fine Style may not be the recommended entry point for beginners. Collectors, however, will be greatly rewarded, and novices willing to dive in will experience firsthand the art of the version. Deejays Jah Levi (aka singer Hugh Mundell) and Jah Iny appear on a couple of tracks, but the remainder of the set is given over to Pablo's excursions on piano, organ, clavinet, xylophone, and his trademark melodica. In the excellent liner notes, writer Harry Hawke places the cuts of Paul Whiteman's "Earth Wind and Fire" in the same league as Pablo's classic "King Tubby's Meets Rockers Uptown"." His claim is more than justified by the three expertly mixed versions of the superb rhythm ("Cool Shade of Dub," "Ras Menilik Congo (Harp)," and "Roots Dub") at the heart of this set. There's a great deal more to recommend as well, including three versions of Studio One's "Real Rock" rhythm (among them the brilliantly off-kilter "Rockers Rock (Version)"), the stark, second dub of "Up Warika Hill" ("Mountain View Dub (Version Two)") and the opening "Far East" with its impeccable horn and melodica lines. The quality (and rarity) of the material ensures that In Fine Style is more than just a money-making repackaging job. It's an essential chapter, both in Pablo's story, and in the history of reggae.


Born: 1954 in St. Andrews, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

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

As any business person will tell you, the way to success is through the discovery of a niche or a previously unexploited market. Still, few business people, and even fewer musicians, would have believed that there was a market for the sound of the melodica. What next, they would have sniggered, a kazoo? Yet Augustus Pablo would take this child's toy and launch a revolution in Jamaican music. Not only was Pablo's melodica unique, it would sweep the entire island's scene and become an integral part...
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