Consumer Guide Reviews:The Great Pablo [Music Club, 2000]
There was always as much homemade ska charm as space-bass version esoterica in Horace Swaby's primitive dub, which used a toy instrument to evoke a mysterious East that was big in Japan even though it never ventured far beyond his mind's Nile. More than Ocho's The Melodica King or Mango's Classic Rockers, this early-'70s mix-and-match strikes the right balance of tuneful and tricky, as serene as a six-year-old dabbling in the sand with his right hand as he holds tight to his mother's skirt with the left. A-
East of the River Nile [Shanachie, 2002]
Subjects for Further Research [1980s]: Before either route was more than a gleam in the zeitgeist's eye, the world's greatest melodica player set up house at the corner of "world music," with its vaguely folkie-futuristic aura, and "world-beat," a term favored by rockers dancing their way to the next big thing. By the middle '80s he was the greatest of all new-age musicians even though the new-age market didn't know he existed. It's entirely conceivable he'll prove reggae's most enduring artist a century from now, but I often feel he's a little beyond me, which I don't necessarily mean as a compliment, and would no more try to parse his oeuvre than I would, oh, Steve Reich's. When I'm in the mood for mood music, I think about him sometimes, only to put on Another Green World or something. King Tubby's Meets Rockers Uptown, which in 1976 made dub possible as a (highly specialized, I insist) subgenre, has the mark of greatness upon it. Also in my A shelves are 1980's Original Rockers (bracingly abrasive), 1987's Rockers Comes East (poppishly upbeat), and 1986's Rebel Rock Reggae (simply sui generis).