Tuesday, May 12, 2009
AUGUSTUS PABLO - coconut oil
It is already ten years since Augustus Pablo passed from this realm on May 18, 1999. It really doesn’t matter though because a deeply spiritual dreadlocks like Pablo would not acknowledge death or funerals. The legacy left behind is staggering, the years worth of music almost impenetrable considering all the different mixes and pressings of Rockers productions.
The story has been told over and over, but the poster boy of the melodica was born into a middle class Kingston family as Horace Swaby in the fifties, and attended Kingston College. He eventually emerged as an instrumental artist with his new pseudonym, but still toiled as a sideman for little or no pay. Having a vision of Rastafari, he embraced the lifestyle and went bongo dread and I-tal despite his high tone background.
Like countless frustrated musicians, Augustus Pablo realized he could be a producer and control the sound of his music, and make more money of course. The very humble Pablo always maintained that the father guided his music and often credited Selassie as producer. He made history with his Rockers and Message labels, a natural outgrowth of the Rockers Sound System that Pablo ran with his brother Garth Swaby. Quite often it was Pablo who was the operator, and Jah Bull was resident deejay.
Without him, New Order, The Beat, Joe Jackson, or even Jamaicans like Joe White and Peter Touch might have never picked up a melodica- The German company Hohner must have felt Pablo’s impact on their international sales of melodicas, and the images of Pablo with his locks down, holding the instrument, have been seen worldwide.
On keyboards, Pablo was no Jimmy Smith, but his groove was strong. The moods and soundscapes he created made for a different kind of dub album: instrumental music to be listened to, not necessarily just a blank template for deejays to chat their lyrics over-
There is a meditative quality to Augustus Pablo’s sound that draws in people from every nation.
This compilation includes many of his extended cuts, and pieces of his classic riddims matched up with their versions.