Various Studio One Rub-A-Dub

While "rub-a-dub” can mean any roots reggae, strictly speaking it refers to tracks mixed in a dub-wise style with either a singer or deejay voicing overtop. Often, as in these mid- to late ’70s Studio One cuts, the backing tracks were culled from previously logged sessions. This latest release uses rub-a-dub as a loose theme to tie together various tracks from an era when Studio One’s rivals were garnering most of the attention. Yet this set once again proves why Coxsone Dodd’s Brentford Road music factory was, to paraphrase Burning Spear, the university of reggae — it provided a virtual cheat sheet for the entire industry. Not only did several of these Studio One riddims go on to back hit songs by artists like the Mighty Diamonds and Musical Youth but other innovations, such as the deejay combination, began here. Witness Papa Michigan and Smiley’s "Jah a the Creator” or two cuts by the now forgotten Rapper Robert and Jim Brown. The latter, with their hilarious political bid "Minister for Ganja,” provide a loose template for Yellowman and Fathead’s later hit, "Herbman Smuggling.” This compilation includes wicked tracks by the cream of the studio’s ’70s crop, such as Johnny Osbourne, Lone Ranger and Willie Williams, but it also features strong cuts from many minor artists. The best of these, and a song that makes the disc worth getting on its own, is Len Allen Jr.’s "White Belly Rat.” (Soul Jazz)