Bill Laswell - "Version 2 Version: A Dub Transmission"
(ROIR 2004, RUSCD 8288)

From Aural Innovations #29 (October 2004)

To anyone who knows the name Bill Laswell will know exactly what to expect from the title I suppose. I had heard his name but had no knowledge of his music, and I must admit that I would not have chose it to review at all but it features Jah Wobble so I had to take a peak.

Jah Wobble, as some of you may know, is the former Public Image Limited bass player, a band fronted by John Lydon of Sex Pistols fame. After P.I.L, Jah Wobble faded from the limelight and it is said in time became a London Tube Driver, until the day that he supposedly announced to the train that he was driving, ‘Hello, I’m Jah Wobble and I’m going to be a pop star.’ Or something shite like that. Thus he left his employment, and as Jah Wobble and the Invaders of the Heart were born in the early 90’s he went on to record and tour the festival scene with them. So as I say it was for the fact that Jah Wobble appears on this CD that I chose it, and also because I am a bit partial to a bit of Dub.

This CD is the fifth release that Bill Laswell has recorded for ROIR, and it has an all-star line-up to boast. Starting with the man himself, Bill Laswell, he is stated as a world-class musician, working with people ranging from George Clinton to Motorhead, and it is also stated that he discovered Whitney Houston, but I would keep that to myself though Bill!!! Bill is also joined by keyboardist Bernie Worrell of Funkadelic fame, percussionist Karsh Kate, drummer Abdou Mboub, and finishing off with the aforementioned Jah Wobble.

Version 2 Version - A Dub Transmission is exactly what it says, and it is a 6-track guide through the heart of the Dub world. From start to finish it is relentless in the throb of bass and the necessary delay, and I would say that any Dub fan would appreciate its quality. It could be closely related to Lee Perry later Black Ark Experiment stuff, but thankfully this CD is not overpowered by shit drum machines, which I might note that in my opinion this is where Lee Perry and Jah Wobble lack power and energy, especially on a lot of Black Ark stuff and on the Invaders of the Heart album ‘Rising Above Bedlam’. But that is another matter.

Bill Laswell co-wrote most of the tracks with Jah Wobble, and it should be noted that the sound on offer is an earthy, spacey, and laid back Dub, exactly as it should be. And it should also be noted that Jah Wobble’s bass lines penetrate straight into the heart and throb once the graphic has been adjusted for the Dub experience. There are some good tracks here, but I’m not going to name names. I will just say that I think that it is all worthy of praise, and that it moves and grooves you from inside as well as outside. And again I can say that it could be worth your attention if you want to dabble in this style of Dub.

I have not heard any other Bill Laswell release so I cannot comment on past references. But I can say that I would listen to them and may even search them out for myself. So if you know Bill Laswell’s name, you will be no stranger to his sound and composition. So I’m sure that you will like this. Others who do not and like Dub? You’ll also like it!!!

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Reviewed by Albert Pollard

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