Review: John Brown’s Body – Kings And Queens In Dub

Review: John Brown’s Body – Kings And Queens In Dub

John Brown’s Body – Kings And Queens In Dub
JBBTrack Listing:
1) People in the light Dub (Dubfader of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant)
2) Give up the Ghost Dub (Jay “Double Tiger” Spaker)
3) Worldwide Dub (Dubfader of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant)
4) Sound and Fury Dub (Dubmatix)
5) Seneca Dub (Dubfader of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant)
6) Fracture Dub (Dubmatix)
7) Pulsing Dub (Yesking)
8) My Guiding Dub (Lord Echo of The Black Seeds)
9) Land of plenty Dub (Ticklah)
10) Gallows Pole Dub (Dennis Bovell)
11) Sweet Undertow Dub (Michael G of Easy Star All-Stars)
12) Paint the Sky Dub (Nate Silas Richardson)

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: April 7th, 2015
Record Label: Easy Star Records
Official Website: JBB Website

Artist Background:
There’s no denying that John Brown’s Body is one for the most influential bands in the American reggae scene. Since their formation in 1995, they’ve released 10 studio albums, including a dub EP release, ‘JBB in Dub’, and a remix release, ‘Re-Amplify’. The band has undergone lineup changes over the years, and currently boasts a full cast of skilled musicians including lead singer Elliot Martin, and three horn players who play a major part in creating their signature sound. It’s clear that JBB has influence from Jamaican roots reggae, and they certainly hold true to elements of the genre—yet they’ve simultaneously incorporated futuristic styles in their music, which is what makes their sound truly unique and groundbreaking.

JBB’s 2013 release ‘Kings and Queens’ was well-received by critics, topping the Billboard Reggae Chart. Now two years later, they’re releasing ‘Kings and Queens in Dub’, which contains dub versions of ‘Kings and Queens’ in its entirety. JBB’s saxophonist, Drew Sayers, worked closely with Easy Star Records founders Eric Smith and Lem Oppenheimer to put together this album. It features mixes by Ticklah, Dubmatix, Dubfader (of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant), UK legend Dennis Bovell, Yesking, Michael G (of Easy Star All-Stars), Lord Echo (of The Black Seeds), and more.

Album Review:
Hats off to JBB and everyone involved in creating this great modern dub album. As you listen, you’ll find the production quality is top notch. The original songs from ‘Kings and Queens’ are already rich with layers, so the engineers had a lot to play with while making the dub versions.

There’s a striking difference between these dubs and the songs they’re derived from. At times, it’s like listening to a completely different song with a different feel to it. As Drew Sayers said about the album, “it reveals a whole new way of hearing the song you might not have known existed before.”

Songs like “Worldwide Dub” and “Pulsing Dub” let Elliot’s once-subtle harmonies become the prevalent vocal track. By pulling away elements of the song that were once dominant, little funky guitar sounds and other effects come forward. During moments of “My Guiding Dub”, the music pulls away entirely and lets the vocals alone carry the song. “Paint the Sky Dub” is another prime example of how mixing can drastically change the feeling of the song.

There are tons of horns on this album, a key part of JBB’s sound. There’s much “empty space” that you’ll hear, as dubs are by nature more minimal—but that’s not to be taken negatively. It’s like caverns are created within the sound, and horns and distortions can bounce around the space.

The album is both rootsy and futuristic, a sonically awesome contradiction. The first track, “People In The Light Dub”, brings the skank into focus a long with heavy reverb, and combined with the drum and bass, it makes for a very rootsy feel. Elliot’s vocals peek through at the perfect moment so that you hear “So come inside hear the drums and the bass”. The songs are also futuristic or space-y sounding, something JBB does so well. In “Land Of Plenty Dub”, it somewhat sounds like you’re floating around in a video game. The song gets heavy and electronic at times.

Stand out songs to me are “People In The Light Dub”, and the bass-heavy “Sound And Fury Dub”. Admittedly the latter’s original tune “Empty Hands” is a favorite of mine. The dub version is a bit softer than the original. Others at the top of my list are “Give Up The Ghost Dub”, “Land Of Plenty Dub”, and “Paint The Sky Dub”—which uses effects that sound like you’re getting into a spaceship and traveling through different dimensions.

The dub names to their counterparts are creative. Sometimes they’re pulled from a single lyric of the song, and sometimes they’re not. The album flows together well even though the dubs are mixed by different individuals. ‘Kings and Queens in Dub’ is enjoyable to listen to from start to finish, and no songs should be skipped. I highly recommend it!

Written & Reviewed By: Kayla Kush

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]