Various 21st Century Dub

21st Century Dub isn't so much a compilation, as it is an incredible gathering of many of Jamaica's finest reggae artists working side-by-side with Japanese reggae lovin’ musicians. A reissue of a reissue, the album was a ROIR cassette-only 1987 title, which originally existed as two 1980 EPs on Japan’s Better Days label. The story goes that a Japanese percussionist nicknamed Pecker (for his intense twitch-like motions when playing) met Bob Marley in ’79, expressed his deep love of reggae and dream of recording in Jamaica, and Marley helped facilitate. Off travelled a few Japanese musicians — including members of the Yellow Magic Orchestra — to record informal sessions with players from the revered reggae camps of Tuff Gong (Aston and Carlton Barrett, producer Vitamin Dread, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt amongst them) and Channel One (Sly & Robbie, Augustus Pablo, Rico Rodriguez, Mikey Chung). The results are amazing; the playing is pure quality, true to the roots reggae sound while flirting with the more experimental studio trickery of dub. Considering his role and presumed excitement, Pecker’s own contributions are subtle and solid; he kicks out the percussion and EFX jams on "Dr. Dr. Humanity," and contributes strained, but oddly endearing vocals to the weird and wonderful "Pecker Power Pt. 1." The Ryuchi Sakamoto penned "Kylyn" is a particularly rich and spiritual highlight, with Mowatt, Griffiths, Anicia Banks and Japan's Minako Yoshida harmonising, Pecker percussing for all he's worth and Sigaharu Muhai contributing contrabass trombone over Sly & Robbie's drum and bass and Pablo's piano. Pure magic, as are so many pieces here. Any dub or roots reggae fan needs to add this to their collection. (ROIR)