Another release in Jah Wobble‘s in Dub series, one which has seen both In Dub and In Trance vie to take listener’s attention, and is a more accessible on-the-pocket version than 2005s 6-CD Redux release. This cutdown double CD version, comprising 38 tracks, should be regarded as an entrée into the artist’s work, as should the previous 2 releases. John Joseph Wardle as he was first known, is one of those fascinating artists who just require further reading. Having worked with John Lydon following The Sex Pistols split in January 1978, October of that same year saw Public Image formed and the rest, as they say, is history. Well, it would have been, had he not left the band in late 1980, following the release of his debut album The Legend Lives On: JAH WOBBLE IN ‘BETRAYAL’, a superb debut, although the title might tell another story? This is why further reading might be suggested. If you are not in the least bit interested in the personal whys and wherefores – and who can blame you considering exactly what has been created in the years that have followed – then sit back and revel in the tracks and influences on offer here. This is going to be a journey you will not forget.
For the most part, this is a collection of instrumental numbers; these display Wobble’s ingenious bass style and, rather than just being the foundation to a song’s structure, that bass can be found taking centre stage. This is the joy found in the tunes on offer here and with such a strong structure, whatever else the song has afforded it, the bass is always at the centre. Growing up on the Clichy Estate in the Tower Hamlets area of East London, where even a modest property can now exceed a half a million pounds, in the 1960s and 70s, this was far from the case, and attending London’s Kingsway College, a younger Wardle paired up with fellow students John Grey, John Simon Richie (later known as Sid Vicious), and John Lydon and where 2 of the Johns went on to become known as members of The Sex Pistols, Wardle descended into a phase of alcoholism and drug use and ended up living in a squat. Having dabbled with the guitar in the past, but possessing what he called “large builders’ hands“, he found playing bass “a more connected and whole-body experience” and so, admiring The Wailers bassist Ashley Barrett, this became his obvious tool of choice. His distinctive ‘low end’ bass style has served him well, in all of the musical projects he has been involved with, some of these are on offer here and the content demonstrates outfits Invaders of the Heart, …& Deep Space, Yuldz, …& The Nippon Dub Ensemble, …& Temple of Sound and …& Julie Campbell. A heavy menu with even heavier & enjoyable content.
Ok, so having determined Wardle’s experience, Wobble (a name offered him by a drunken Vicious in his college days), is known for his Dub style and this low-end performance of bass is something that runs throughout here. From the magical Eastern influence offered in the first track. ‘Asa‘, is a number, complete with the song sung in Hindi or Punjabi, that is accompanied by tabla and what I can only assume to be a dilruba (a stringed interment, played a little like a violin, although creating a sound similar to a sitar), music that fills the whole body with its cultural offering. So we’re off to a pretty good start, but considering this is only the start and from contributions by Julie Campbell with ‘Isaura‘, English is the tongue that accompanies this number, with an exceptionally low bass riff offered, alongside an electronic drum pattern. the ‘South London Dub Symphony‘, offers a Sunday afternoon vibe and we’re heading East once more as ‘Mu‘ picks up a Japanese flute in “Not have; without“, the translation being a keyword in Buddhism, especially with Zen traditions. ‘The Kings Of Asia‘ brings us westward, in a short and traditional number that certainly speaks of Romanian heritage.’K Dub‘ is just that, sounds complete with extremely low bass, this little number with a Japanese/Chinese leaning being just the ticket for taking time-out and that bass is just gorgeous. Music that strikes anywhere between the traditional and rave, these sounds when placed on a compilation are just the perfect introduction to an artist whose music might otherwise be overlooked. This is music which is present in all that we do, from television soundtracks to the music of yesterday and the very now. With the first of 4 versions of 2004’s ‘Elevator Music‘ – ‘6A‘, it tells a story that you might find in late 90s Massive Attack, one artist borrowing from another to ignite the flame. ‘Elevator Music 10‘ finalises the first disc and like Brian Eno’s Music For Airports, does the same, although this time with copious amounts of double espresso on hand I am certain, such is the intense presentation.
CD2 introduces the listener to ‘Dust Bowl Dub‘, a track which brings to the table lead guitar, with an ample serving of dub, progressing very well into ‘Elevator Music 8‘. This is another case of Wobble meeting Eno in a dark club somewhere off Soho, but perhaps that’s just in my mind? As well as having worked with the man himself on 95’s Spinner, his past experiences of working with Eno has brought shards of genius to the compositions and so in ‘Elevator Music 8‘ another meeting of minds keeps us on this journey and into the tribal ‘Lam Tang Way Dub‘, where East African music comes to East London for just over 3 minutes, before the rather eloquent ‘Dub Musika (Para Siempre)‘ takes the reins; the Spanish translation is “Forever”, in a pool of extremely European electronic pop. ‘Lord Keep Me Dub (Version Number Three)‘ follows this, reciting Psalm 23, “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” and it has to be said that as I travel myself through this album, ending up in Sunday school was not what I expected, albeit with a very forward-thinking teacher standing at the head of this class. Later on, this CD sees Wobble’s attempt at entering the advertising industry, as a tune that has more in common with a 007 installment reaches out as ‘Car Ad Music 9‘ takes centre stage. Much of this album certainly shows just how the artist was influenced by Reggae in his earlier teachings, as Dub is where we end up, on whichever part of the world we choose to stand. Having recorded over fifty albums, this is one artist who I certainly give the greatest respect to and as for that further reading, if 2009s “Memoirs Of A Geezer” has not been on your reading list then why not make it so today? No matter how far the man might travel, he will always be known as the ex-Public Image Limited bass player, but several hours spent in the company of his music has shown that he is far more than just this one soundbite. And so as night falls here, quite unexpectedly I can end on the collection’s final track ‘As Night Falls (Part 3)‘, I really couldn’t have written it any other way.