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Baker's Dozen

Kernow Calling: Mark Jenkin’s Favourite Albums
Sean McGeady , January 18th, 2023 09:12

Cornish bard Mark Jenkin talks Sean McGeady through the soundtracks to his teenage summers, long drives to the hospital, and lonely afternoons hand-processing celluloid, from Junior Wells to Joni Mitchell


Various Artists – Trojan Records Dub Volume I

I thought reggae was just Bob Marley when I was a kid. And very specific Bob Marley, the stuff that’s on Legend – my dad used to play it a lot growing up. I really like a lot of ska. I suppose I got into ska through Madness, who were my band when I was a kid. A lot of kids of my generation go through that, getting into Madness when they’re young. But I never really made the link between ska and reggae until I heard a compilation of early Bob Marley stuff – I think it was two discs and one was the early stuff, like ‘4000 Years’ and ‘Stir It Up’ and all that, and then the other was the dub versions. I loved that stuff. I dove a bit deeper and discovered that it all went back to King Tubby.

The tape loop and the echo stuff, I love the technology of it. King Tubby’s background is as an engineer. Not coming at it as a musician necessarily, but as a producer and reworking stuff, working with limitations, taking all of these singles and remaking tracks out of stuff that already existed. Those early Bob Marley dub recordings they just removed the vocal track. What King Tubby did was really interfere with it all, remix it, take out bits, embellish it all with this tape echo and stuff. And looping. Just tape looping. It sounds mad saying it out loud, because it sounds like nothing, but it’s such a distinct sound. From King Tubby and then going to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, it all opened up.

It’s really subversive as well, obviously. And so innovative. I love the Trojan box sets. The ska, the rocksteady, the reggae. It’s a very abridged and simplistic journey through that period of Jamaican music. Two friends of mine years ago gave me a data disc of the entire Trojan catalogue. I listened to that a lot but then I’ve gone through and bought up the box sets of the ones I really like. I’d love to have them all eventually. I could listen to these Trojan dub compilations all day, every day.