Barrington Levy Barrington Levy in Dub

Barrington Levy needs no introduction as the single most important vocalist to kick off the "dancehall” era of reggae. Technical innovations had always been a big part of the popularity of dancehalls — ever more cavernous bass and ear-splitting highs could set your system apart from the rest. This was paralleled in the studios, and the ascension of the 16-track Channel One studio in the late ’70s put bass and drum tracks into greater relief than ever before, directly spawning the "rockers” style, followed quickly by these sparser riddims The rhythms on Barrington Levy In Dub have long been available, but Auralux unearthed a rare, Jamaica-only pressing of mixes for the dancehall. There are no sirens, alarm clocks, or crowing roosters: the majesty of the rhythms, stereo phasing and sharp EQ-ing make this disc a devastating listening experience. Auralux’s agility in the mastering studio seems to render a 5.1 surround effect in one’s headphones. Preserving quite a bit of LP noise, the live feel of this mix gives a strong sense of how this must have pummelled dancehall patrons at the time. It’s all summed up by one cymbal crash in "Skylarking,” which produces a sublime moment of white noise when LP crackle merges with top-end EQ and delay feedback to take out the eardrums of the unsuspecting. This disc is only half an hour long, but it’s utterly worth it. (Auralux)