Yabby You & The Prophets

The Yabby You Sound - Dubs & Versions

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In the early 1970s the island of Jamaica, and in particular its reggae musicians, developed a love affair with small Japanese motor bikes. Honda bikes were eulogised in Big Youth’s ‘S90 Skank’ and Dillinger’s ‘CB200’, whilst their rival was lauded on Shorty The President’s ‘Yamaha Skank’, to name the most obvious examples. The plot of the film ‘Rockers’ revolved around how transformative a motorbike could be, providing a livelihood whilst projecting an image of success in the ghetto.

Vivian ‘Yabby You’ Jackson had been fiercely independent as a singer and producer, and the success of his early self-pressed productions, mostly on the Prophets or Vivian Jackson labels, had given him a sense of hard earned autonomy. A motorbike was one of the fruits of his labours, acquired as a way of zipping around the capital’s roads to deliver records and organise recording sessions. His wife Jean could often be see hanging on to the back. Twelve years after his death, she remembers various exploits on the pot-holed roads of Kingston.

Jean Vencella Williams: ‘His first motorbike was a Honda 50 and then a 100, a Yamaha. I remember the Yamaha, it was a dark blue colour, it must have been from the mid 70s til the early 80s. I used to ride around on the back and we ride all over, like we go to the country cos his mother lived in Clarendon. And he had a little carrier thing for boxes of records, so we go to Mandeville in Manchester, sometimes to Spanish Town fe sell records. Most of the time he sell them to the shops, like Randys, and the people them buy it from there. He had pressing plants like Byron Lee and later Tuff Gong, so when the records pressed we find out the time when we get back the records, which usually was at least a couple of days or about a week. And later when we living in Clarendon we come into Kingston to pick them up at the pressing plant. And when he book the studio he might book two or three days and we come in and usually stay til late.

He used to carry the records from the different pressing plants on the bike, but because of the rain and weather you know it not so good for the records, and also the sun beating down. Then Wayne Wade had an accident on the Yamaha, and he was hurt quite bad, and he had to go to the hospital for quite a while. Well Yabby didn’t ride it after that, cos it was getting dangerous with so many cars coming in. So he gave up the Yamaha and bought a Toyota Carina, and that car was very good to him. Then the Carina become a little shaky, so he got a Toyota Corolla which he drove until his death.

This album presents a sample of the best of those ‘Dubs and Versions’ that Yabby was ferrying around town, whether rarities, B-sides or tracks culled from albums that showcase the breadth of Yabby’s productions between 1975 and 1982.

Tribal War Dub and Creation Rock Version.
We open with two make-overs of Studio One rhythms, ‘Death In The Arena’ and ‘Rockfort Rock’. Yabby is rightly lauded for his well worked original rhythms, but the same care and attention is on display here. Slow and hypnotic, ‘Tribal War Dub’ was recorded at the Black Ark but mixed and overlaid with syndrum sound effects at King Tubby’s. ‘Creation Rock Version’ was issued on 7-inch as the flip to a storming vocal by Michael Prophet: the dub is pounding and relentless, aimed straight at the sound system.

United Africa Dub
Tommy McCook’s delicate flute leads an instrumental dub of Yabby’s haunting song ‘Jah Over I’. The master saxophonist was a key collaborator with Yabby throughout the 70s, and often switched to flute or fife for atmospheric classics like the mighty ‘Death Trap’. Here his sublime melody floats over a solid steppers drum pattern from Sly Dunbar, with syncopated snare fills.

Lord Of Lords Dub, Black Is Our Colour Dub, Now I Know Dub and Man Of The Living Dub
Four dubs all taken from singles featuring the teenage singer Wayne Wade. Jean remembers Wayne Wade as ‘a very brilliant singer, really the first one that Yabby spend a lot of time on as he get more confident as a producer’. Wade recorded extensively for Yabby, and went on to cut the awesome ‘Poor And Humble’ for Linval Thompson and a couple of albums for Willie Lindo. ‘Lord of Lords’ is a reworking of Yabby’s signature tune ‘Conquering Lion’, ‘Now I Know’ is a recut of Dennis Brown’s ‘Baby Don’t Do It’, and ‘Man Of The Living’ is one of the deepest tunes recorded by Yabby’s young protégé. The ‘Black Is Our Colour’ rhythm was recorded by Lee Perry at the Black Ark studio, with horns and flute by Tommy McCook added after the original release, as heard on this, the version side to Jah Stitch’s cut ‘African Queen’.

Dub U So, Yabby U Sound, Plague Of Horn and King Pharaoh Dub
Two tracks from an LP named ‘Yabby U Meets Sly and Robbie Along With Tommy McCook’ released in 1982, in which Yabby revisits some of his older rhythms with new dub mixes by Professor and Scientist. ‘Dub U So’ focuses in on some stirring but plangent horn parts. An album track by Byron Otis of The Blackstones named ‘Set Me Free’ uses the same rhythm track, seemingly because its producer Jah Larry was living in Clarendon alongside Yabby. ‘Yabby U Sound’ is a minimalist remix of the anthemic ‘King Pharaoh’s Plague’, originally released five years earlier. The two bonus tracks on this CD are earlier cuts of the same rhythm, a driving instrumental from Tommy McCook, and a riveting dub mix from King Tubby.

Vengeance In Dub, Repatriation Rock and Warrior No Tarry Yah Version
Three version sides to strong DJ records, with Ranking Trevor’s toast over a recut of ‘Jah Vengeance’, Jah Stitch’s DJ piece to ‘Zion Gate’ aka ‘Judgement On The Land’, and Tony Tuff’s chant over his own ‘One Big Family’, riding the Paragons’ ‘Man Next Door’ rhythm. All were mixed at King Tubby’s, probably by Prince Jammy, and all three dubs show the standard Tubby’s practice of recording the DJ’s clean voice and the full dub mix onto separate adjacent tracks. This meant that the flip side of the record would not need to be mixed separately, the dub mix being the same as that behind the voice on the A side. You just pulled down the fader on the DJ’s vocal and your B-side dub was already mixed. Not a second was wasted in the studio!

Heads A Roll Dub, Mash Down Rome Dub and Turn Me Loose Dub
Michael Prophet was Yabby’s most successful and prolific artist. Jean remembers Michael’s recruitment: ‘Michael Prophet came to him as part of a trio, and Yabby liked Michael but for some reason he didn’t take the other two, and decide him better as a solo artist. So Michael was taught from scratch and him would come in the evening and practice and practice, until Yabby feel he was ready for the studio.’ These three tracks are from the confusingly named ‘Michael Prophet – Vocal and Dub LP’, which is actually a full dub album mixed by King Tubby, with extended vocal passages. It’s a very musical set that was obviously conceived as a coherent album, with new mixes to existing singles and subtle sound effects overlaid throughout.

Death To All Racist and Aggression Dub
Yabby took a pretty relaxed attitude to naming tracks, especially on his dub albums, which today causes some confusion among the ranks of record collectors. These two neglected tracks are both from LPs with contradictory information. The various pressings of ‘Yabby You Meets Michael Prophet And Scientist At The Dub Station’ use the same track names for totally different dubs, but ‘Death To All Racist’ on the original 1981 release is the dub to Michael Prophet’s ‘Stop Throw Stones’. Meanwhile the tracklisting on ‘Michael Prophet – Stars In Disco Showcase’ does not match between the sleeve and the label, so ‘Aggression Dub’ may actually be named ‘Falkland Crisis Dub’. Whatever, it’s a great version, probably mixed at Channel One, although strangely the only known vocal on this rhythm, ‘Come Make We Rally’ by Willie Williams, was produced by Sugar Minott.

Babylon A Fall Dub
‘Babylon A Fall’ was released as a Discomix 12” on the Grove label, with the dub segueing from Yabby’s vocal. Here the dub is presented on its own, with instrumentation led by trombone and a slightly tentative flute, again probably mixed by Prince Jammy.

Time Changing Dub and Chanting Version
These are the version sides to singles by Samuel Patterson (‘Time Changing’) and Errol Alphonso (‘Chant Jah Victory’) respectively, two talented singers who sadly seem to have recorded only one or two tunes each, and exclusively for Yabby. Both dubs have the musical weight so typical of the music mixed at King Tubby’s. ‘Chanting Version’ has a great intro guitar lick, probably played by Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, and brilliant use of the famous hi pass filter to alter the whole perspective of the mix half way through.

Although drawn from disparate sources, hopefully this collection presents a coherent overview of the drum and bass music produced by Yabby You from the late 70s to the early 80s. As Jean remembers: ‘Yabby really loved dubs, I think he put special care into them. And he loved what he did.’
Diggory Kenrick


Side A
1.    Tribal War Dub
2.    Creation Rock Version
3.    United Africa Dub
4.    Lord Of Lords Dub
5.    Dub U So   

Side B
6.    Black Is Our Colour Dub
7.    Vengeance In Dub
8.    Heads A Roll Dub
9.    Repatriation Rock
10.    Death To All Racist

Side C
11.    Aggression Dub
12.    Warrior No Tarry Yah Version
13.    Now I Know Dub
14.    Mash Down Rome Dub
15.    Babylon A Fall Dub    

Side D
16.    Man Of The Living Dub
17.     Time Changing Dub
18.    Turn Me Loose Dub
19.    Chanting Version
20.    Yabby U Sound

CD Bonus Tracks
Plague of horn – Tommy McCook
King Pharaoh Dub – King Tubby