Pachyman In Dub, released this year (2019) is an homage to all that was great about 1970s Dub Reggae.
Pachyman, an obvious enthusiast for Roots Rockers Reggae and the sonic qualities of that genre, delivers into ’nuff skanking ear worms deep and heavyweight baselines, like Robbie Shakespeare in his own Barbell label days, with the accompanying phasing and echo effects of Dub Master King Tubby straight outta Drummilie Avenue and some oh so tasteful keyboards over the top in the style of Winston Wright or Bernard ‘Touter’ Harvey. You can hear the influence of producers like Bunny Lee and Lee Perry and the mixing touch of engineers like Errol Thompson and the then Prince Jammy. pachyman.bandcamp.com
His lines are choice, and he’s listened and absorbed, you can tell he has a great ear and he has heard what you have heard, and he has heard the word and that word is DUB. He plays everything and very musically indeed.
Each tune is a little ‘Dub’ gemstone, shining brightly on it’s own, and what I enjoyed was that he has treated each ‘Dub’ as a stand-alone production in their own right, i.e., unlike their 70s counterparts, they are not the re-cycled versions of vocal or instrumental original songs, they are stand alone tunes in their own right and his love for the genre rings true all the stronger for this treatment. They are each a little Dub imagining. I’m hoping we may hear a Deejay version of this Lp, or even that he retrospectively gets some singers and players to produce one away originals on the rhythms he’s created, because those rhythms are strong.
It suffers a little from the outboard he’s used to create it, as the sound at times can seem a little flat and the audio field isn’t as wide as you might want to enjoy, but something about the bottom end and mid range sound, the lack of a truly clean and crisp top end and the flat Mono nature of the mix down gives it more of an original feel. It sounds like an Lp produced, perhaps not at a leading studio of the time like Channel One, but perhaps somewhere where they hadn’t quite got the sound totally sussed yet, working on a smaller budget, possibly making it all the more accurate and retrospectively correct, .. has he gone to the ultimate degree to produce a truly ‘retro’ sound? Probably not, but it’s fun to play with the idea that the concept might just go this deep.
I only found out about this Lp a number of mere months after it was released by Permanent Records in the USA, and with no European distribution and already SOLD OUT but the time I knew of it I was left to hunt down a test pressing, pay through the nose for it and then pay the import tax when it came into the country, making it considerably more expensive than many rare Lps of original material I have sourced through the years. But, I believe it’s worth it, which says a lot I think for the quality of the music and the ear of it’s creator.
Check out ‘Jumpy’, my favourite tune of the Lp, but they’re all good. I suggest your roll up on a copy.. soon.
The Half of Six Record Listeners Club is a social occasion, an evening where Mike & Sue, your hosts, invite a special guest to chat about the music they love. Mike & Sue also have the occasional disagreement about which records are good ones and which are not so good.
So, all too often you turn on the radio, or listen to a show, it’s genre specific, you don’t get surprises and you leave un-edified, and without new artistes to listen to, or any real surprises. Not at this podcast, two music lovers, partners in crime and life discuss their favourite music, normally with a guest who brings her or his records to their cozy hideaway on the Isle of Skye (sort of). We’re big music fans, so expect some great tunes and we’re also both highly opinionated about the music we love, so don’t expect agreement, You’ll be party to the occasional domestic moment, in amongst the mix.
The first podcast of this music review show, in which Mike & Sue introduce themselves and play you some of the music that means a lot to them. In the future we’ll have a guest on most of our shows sharing their musical loves (and hates quite possibly), but we thought you’d like to get to know us first, and what the show is all about, or rather, will be about. Please come join us for a cozy look through our record collections as we take a wee dram by the glowing turfs on our imaginary homes’ hearth, in the wilds of the Isle of Skye. On this edition you’ll hear music by a wide variety of artistes, including The Bevis Frond, The Clash, Anne Briggs, Hal Paige, The Cure, Bill Doggett, Bill Haley, The Cardiacs, The Fuzztones, Daniel Romano and much much more besides, we aren’t genre driven, so expect a wide but pleasing array of musical styles. Mike & Sue
Daniel Romano – Finally Free – New West Records NW5255 – Released 2018
I’m going to be totally honest here, and brutally frank. I don’t know what the fuck this Lp is ‘really‘ about. That fact, in combination with my assertion that it is a work of beauty and genius has got me seriously fucked up and confused, I don’t get that way often. I like it though when I do. I like it when I can’t tuck something into a pigeonhole, when it tells me to get my listening ears on properly. I like it when it is music so obviously and adventurously wonderful. But when records are just pretentiously impenetrable, I lean quickly to placing them into the category ‘shite’ to be ignored, and money recently wasted.
I don’t normally have a hard time working out what an artist is trying to do, writing about, saying, who they sound like or where their influences lay, but that’s not the case with Finally Free. Daniel might feel finally freed by this Lp as if it were some cathartic exercise in musical self assertion, but it’s got me quite possibly ‘finally stumped’ in working out what’s going on with it.
But that’s a GOOD thing. I’m bored with knowing what the hell I’m hearing. In my dotage I need something I’ve not ever heard the like of before too keep my interest. To make me want to review it for instance, in a blog.
Just who the hell is Daniel Romano?
I first ‘discovered’ my version of Daniel Romano, isolated and without musical guidance, while trawling YouTube for Alt Country songs, and found a wonderful song, that appears with an alternative title, feel and mix on his Lp. ‘If I’ve Only One Time Askin” but is on YouTube called ‘More Love From A Stranger’. I was immediately struck by his songwriting, playful attitude to wearing revival Nudie style suits with a big hat, and his obvious and only slightly submerged obsession with Hank Williams Jnr. The song was strong. Sounded like a man headed for romantic oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, and had me hooked. Shortly thereafter I bought the frankly disappointing cd album ‘Come Cry With Me’ on import. The songs were nowhere near as strong as his YouTube appearance and I put any further exploration of his music aside for a while.
Then recently while at a record store in Brighton England I took a punt on what is a recent but not latest release by him, Finally Free, the record I’m here to try and review. I bought it partly because Romano’s stuff just doesn’t appear in the UK without a pricey import tariff generally. It’s hard to find, and expensive when you do. The point I’m making is that my experience of his music was not explained or taught by anyone, he’s a rare thing for me a discovery I made. His music is a place I found, not one I was shown to, or recommended. I don’t know his story, I’m in a dark room and it’s as if he keeps his history close to his chest, there isn’t a lot out there about who is, or has been. I think he likes it that way, I think he likes to play with his perceived image. Do you Daniel? Is that what it’s about for you?
I took Finally Free home, listened, loved it, listened again, loved it more, couldn’t get the lyrics at all, found them impenetrable. Were they pretentious as fuck, or heartfelt? Then listened to the Lp over two months lots of times, loving it. But not getting any closer to the centre of it.
I had questions to answer.
The artwork by Daniel on the Lp sleeve and on the reverse of the frankly ugly poster included was it naïve, or just shitty? Was the assertion on the outer sleeve notes that the Lp was mastered on the stolen land of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabek and Huron-Wendat, but produced and mixed on the stolen land of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek just so much pretentious waffle or meant from the heart?
I remain confused and as yet unconvinced of just what he’s trying to do. That’s a good thing, I feel wrong-footed, confused, but loving the sound, the sound, the music, the music which carries all doubt straight through to the second side’s run out groove.
Don’t fuck me around Dan!
Is he just fucking with us, one minute he’s a finger picking singer songwriter (I’m here citing early YouTube videos of his performances), then he’s rhinestone cowboy, a hard drinking’ country star, then he’s alt something, love poet, romantic bard and fine artist who states that the Lp is ‘A Collection Of Poems In The Language Of Love’, and whom refers on the rear of the sleeve to his penmanship on it as ‘Notes From The Author’. Is he playing with us again, this time trying to impart on himself and perhaps the Lp project the perception of a literary milieu.
The cover, an area previously explored as a thing of artistic potential by Daniel Romano is left filled by ugliness, an ugly 3d photo, and two of the nastiest colours you could pick for anything, even a death warrant, and yet the innards, the guts of the Lp, the music, the production, arrangement, mix of musical happenstance and composition are deftly combined to produce a thing of utter transcendence. Some of the chord progressions are just wondrous, and not one song feels copied, hackneyed or unoriginal.
To all intents it looks like an Lp where the artist is trying way too hard to be noticed, way too hard to impress, to be original, not to quote and re-quote other musical styles and other artists, and yet he manages to do exactly that, to be beautifully original and to prevent the listener being able to catalogue his sound and style. I have my own opinions of course of where some of the sounds hail from, you will have your own when you listen to it (and I hope you do). I can hear strong hints of The Incredible String Band then The Beach Boys, The Byrds (back in 8 Mile High days), Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bob Dylan, Earth Opera, The Velvet Underground, Rocky Horror style Rock Opera shenanigans, Nick Drake, and the sonic 60s excesses of an LSD fuelled musical decade. Like all great music it sounds like you’ve heard it before, but you know you haven’t.
Unlike those Lps of old that used to say in little text long the top edge of the sleeve – ‘File Under ‘Rock N’ Roll’, you won’t get any such advice from Mr. Romano. It’s going to have to go in a section all of it’s own. ‘Finally Free from category’.
There’s something a little worrying about the Disco-Antistat cleaner, namely that for something quite so obviously simple, it does the job rather too well.
I’d had one bought for me as a present years ago, used it and then put it to one side, a little concerned that there were rumours that it might leave a residue. One which would fur up the needle, and sit in the grooves for years to come. I had postulated at the time that any level of film left in the grooves of the record could only affect sound quality adversely. But I have never to date had any problems, I have never found any residue from the Lps and singles I washed coming off on the stylus, nor any degradation of the records treated, no reduction in sound quality. However I still don’t quite trust the Cleaner, trust is a hard thing to give when it’s your pride and joy record collection that could be destroyed by some cheap record cleaner system and a few positive online reviews.
The ‘System’, if a few bits of plastic can be called a ‘System’ consists of a big bottle of what is surely mainly Isopropyl-Alcohol and something mysterious that cuts down static issues. Then also a bath for the record with brushes welded inside, brushes that when you suspend the record via the handy label protecting spindle adaptor and rotate the record manually, clean said record. Hands get wet with the solution while rotating, it sloshes a bit, you rotate both anti & clock wise, you finish, somewhat awkwardly unscrew label protecting spindle ‘thingy’ and place newly cleaned record to drip and evaporate dry in the handy, ‘this was once tucked in the bottom of the bath section drying rack’, as pictured right.
It feels a little jim crack, but it was time to give it a proper test.
Mystery Cleaner, Mystery Train
So when I was recently given a record that had once belonged to my mother, ‘Mystery Train’ on the HMV label, the re-issued Sun Recording, sold with Elvis’s contract to RCA, and it was in it’s terrible 60 year old uncleaned state, I took this test worthy opportunity to see just what this relatively cheap record cleaning system could really do (again).
Frankly I was floored by it’s performance. With a few manual turns (in both directions) of the record in the cleaning bath, through the brushes and then a short drying time, the improvement was gobsmacking. A lead-in groove which had previously sounded like a commando attack with accompanying light arms fire now only hinted at it’s previous incendiary and crackly state and the record played clean, with a full sonic range and looked shiny and as if it had only just been pressed. It improved the record from unplayable to playing and damn fine in about 10 minutes.
Since then I have washed a few further records including some valuable Jamaican singles which were in an unplayable state. All have been massively improved. Rather than leaving them to fester on the shelves, they’re getting played and that’s what it’s all about.
The kit I have as I understand it has been superceeded by a MkII version, and the one I have does suffer from a cheap construction and a rudimentary and manually operated design. The fluid is impossible to pour back into the bottle supplied via the funnel and grime filter without spilling a sizeable ammount every time you use the kit, and it goes everywhere. This is very annoying and poor design is poor design, whether it is cheaply produced or not. The kit retails for under £50, new bottles of fluid are about £10 and to look at the boxed contents of what you get for your buck you would be forgiven for being disappointed; and yet if you considered the results only, you would consider the money it costs, to be VERY well spent.
I’m still reserving some judgement, just in case there proves to be an issue with any residue long term, but currently I’d give it 9 out of 10 for results, considering it’s simple operation and outlay.
This ‘article was written because though rumours abound of residue issues, with some people even just using the bare bones of the machine with distilled water and not the ‘Majic Formula’ to avoid those rumoured problems, no online review existed that directed talked about this head on and I could myself find no information to either confirm or deny the residue rumours with this kit.
I hope this has been helpful to those of you with old grimy Vinyl that needs a gentle scrub.
A completely essential single to have and to hold.
So this is the first of a new ‘series’ of ‘tunes’ that I in my infinite pretentiosity consider essential to have and to hold, to own, to rest easy ‘pon the record shelving.
It won’t just be Reggae music, but anything that I include, but anything that is pure essential listening, but more than that essential to have, to hold, to be physical with (let’s get physical, physical, let me hear your body talk…), none of that Spotify or iTunes shit, none of that ‘I got a collection of 20,000 tune dem, only to find out that .. Im’ got 20,000 Mp3 deh!! .. pure fuckery .. chaw….
This is/was a pure and strong new Roots anthem, ethereal lyrics, solid, meant and meaningful, forward moving, a pleading anthem against violence and the culture of black on black crime. More so though, just a beautiful almost acapella from a smoke laden larynx, pure genius ++ lyrically, this is one to stop the dance but still kill the sound ++ spiritually.
lyric selection, without objection…
I hear a next youth dead yeah
Hey watch the places you walk and mind The way you talk Watch out fi the vampire who will sneak up in the dark Watch out for the big time thief who claim sey that them smart Stop bringing the crack and the gun to mash up the youth dem heart Earth a run red
Songwriters: Richell Bonner / F. Pitter / L. Corniffe