I’d have to agree with the lone reviewer on Amazon UK who says that Treasure Isle Dub is his favorite dub CD “by quite a margin” and points out this interesting fact: “available as mp3 on The Complete Treasure Isle Dub Collection with another 12 tracks beside.”
King Tubby vs. Errol Brown: Who Mixed Treasure Isle Dub?
All this time I’ve been laboring under the delusion that King Tubby did the Treasure Isle Dub mixes, but now I’m beginning to get the idea that maybe Errol Brown really did put these treatments together like it says on the disc – that there wasn’t any conspiracy to write Tubby out of the picture, after all. What’s funny is that Lloyd Bradley’s definitive history of reggae, Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King, devotes quite a bit of ink to King Tubby and his legendary prowess with electronics and audio engineering —
“As an electrical engineer and disc cutter, King Tubby was a perfectionist. His skills as an engineer led to him doing repair jobs or uprating for several studios and sound systems, while his rig, Tubby’s Home Town HiFi – put together in 1968 – was perpetually evolving as a result as much of his natural curiosity and audaciousness as of his vocational training. He was probably the first to use high-frequency horn tweeters, and later made full use of the embryonic transistor technology and custom-built filters to split his frequencies between two different amplifiers: a valve amp for the bass, transistor for the treble (‘weight and treble’ as it still is known). He introduced echo, reverb and sound effects to the dance by bringing a range of specially built or modified outboard gear to his control tower. But he never forgot that the primary purpose of a sound system was to entertain the crowd with recordings of songs, and so his tone and resonance were always second to none.
The book continues — “As a disc cutter, Tubby’s attention to detail meant he’d make several test cuttings of the different aspects of a track, just to make sure everything was set up right – that is, he’d cut with the voices only or with the instruments by themselves and listen to how each sounded on the disc. Even accounting for [Treasure Isle owner] Duke Reid’s finicky ways as a producer, Tubby’s flawlessness in this area has a great deal to do with Treasure Isle’s later rocksteady sound: he would always make sure nothing went on the stamper until it sounded exactly as it should, making full use of the entire bandwidth to give that full, almost self-satisfied feel to the records. One of the reasons Duke Reid’s rocksteady stands the test of time so well is because the recordings were physically so well made and therefore, prior to all the remastering that’s gone on of late, were less likely to sound primitive when listened to years later. And it was in these test cuttings that King Tubby’s dub adventures began to take root.”
[The author then burnishes the Tubby legacy for another eight more pages.]
And yet in the book’s only reference to Errol Brown, I now see [as I re-read it 13 years later] that it says right here plain as day, “Treasure Isle dubs came courtesy of engineer Errol Brown, the late Duke Reid’s nephew, and owe their standing more to the bass lines of the rocksteady classics they were built on than to any particularly innovative mixing.”
Well. Pregnant pause. I guess that clears that mystery up. Although, I hotly dispute the author’s brash assertion that the quality of Errol Brown’s mixing is garden-variety.
Anyway, it is fun to see one particularly shiny piece of AM pop ~ “Midnight Confessions” by the Grass Roots ~ get the early reggae treatment by Phyllis Dillon (with Treasure Isle house band, Tommy & the Supersonics) and then unexpectedly launch into a moody dub remix from Treasure Isle Dub that features vintage Echoplex effects — an exclusive version available only on Zero to 180:
[Pssst: Click the triangle to play “Midnight Confessions” (in dub) by Phyllis Dillon with Tommy & the Supersonics.]