21 Nov 2020


Essential listening for deejay fans and fans of Augustus Pablo's own hands-on style.

'I think it's deejay stuff that's my favourite type of reggae, overall. I'm a big fan of the laid back, conversational deejay vocal style - the improvisational nature of the lyrics gives it a certain edge in the sense you never really know where they're going to go next! Deejay versions have enhanced so many tunes, even mediocre ones.

I get the feeling that Augustus Pablo should have produced more stuff for other artists, because most of the stuff he did do is rather special. So when I saw this compilation of productions he did for various deejays my tail was wagging! (:3) And - I don't really need to say it - this is awesome. Short, but then that makes it all the more commanding - and the dubs hit hard. No notable omissions either, apart from Dillinger's "Downtown Rock" (which should have been included instead of "Brace a Boy" which you've probably heard on Original Rockers anyway). Worth hearing, 'nuff said.' -HorseMouth

Reggae Library

Reggae Library continues to re-release classic reggae albums on digital platforms. After having reissued albums such as Tony Tuff’s “Tuff Selection”, Johnny Osbourne’s “Dancing Time”, Horace Andy’s “Everyday People” and “Exclusively”, the label now comes up with “Augustus Pablo Presents DJ’s From The 70s To 80s” – specially compiled for Big Cat Records with the full corporation of Augustus Pablo and released on cd in 1997.


Jamaican key instumentalist and producer extraordinaire Horace Swaby better known as Augustus Pablo presents a wonderful roundup of tracks. First album track comes from Lester Bullocks aka Dillinger, whose “Take It Easy” is an obscure cut to The Heptones’ “Love Won’t Come Easy”/Augustus Pablo’s “Frozen Dub”, which is followed by the awesome “Take It Easy – Dub”. On both tracks the bass is truly killing it! And it’s Dillinger who not only starts off this set, but also rounds it off in great style with the brilliant “Braces A Boy”, which sees him hitting the spot with his laid back scat vocals.

Jah Levi aka Hugh Mundell

Jah T aka Jah Iny’s “El Rocker” is delivered across a wicked do-over of Studio One’s “Real Rock” riddim. It’s actually one of four versions on the riddim featured on this compilation. The others are Augustus Pablo’s noteworthy “Rocking Dub” and “Real Rock” and the excellent “False Rumour” by Jah Levi (singer Hugh Mundell in his deejay persona). Like “False Rumour”, the tracks “Zion A Fe Lion” and “Let Jah Be Praise” are scarce Jah Levi pieces. These three tunes have never been gathered together before. Any early work from Jah Bull is an absolute necessity and thus it’s great to have the deejay’s “Guide I Jah” included here as well. -by Mr.T at Reggae Vibes

Augustus Pablo 

Text by Harry Hawks

“…The music of Augustus Pablo, created for its moment, and somehow, eternally right for each moment since.” Ian McCann

Born Kingston 21st June 1953 Horace Swaby did not come from a musical background but is one of the most influential and important figures in musical history and, as Augustus Pablo, he evolved a style whose reverberations would sound far outside the confines of reggae music. His father was an accountant and one of his clients was Mrs Sonia Pottinger, proprietor of the Gay Feet musical empire, and Pablo recalled her giving him a dub plate of Ken Boothe's 'Lady With The Starlight'. "I had it in my house a year before it came out..." He would practise on the family piano in his comfortable, middle class home and also built his own guitar using fishing line for strings. "I just loved the sound of music – all kind of music. Just music was inside me from early days." He first recorded for Coxsone Dodd(CS Dodd) at Studio One in the early seventies.

"Coxsone never really put them out. Three organ instrumentals... one was 'Moving Away'. Me have an idea 'pon it and just play it... and two original rhythms. Sylvan Morris and Larry Marshall supervised the sessions. This was just before Herman... 'Real Rock', 'Swing Easy' me did love them tune!" Augustus Pablo

Herman Chin Roy had been using a name he had found in a Mexican magazine to credit instrumental releases on his Aquarius label believing that the enigmatic 'Augustus Pablo' pseudonym gave the records a mysterious feel. In 1971 the young Horace Swaby was in the Aquarius Record Shop with a melodica that had been lent to him by the daughter of a family friend. Herman asked him if he could play the instrument and was so moved by the sounds emanating from Horace's melodica that he immediately booked studio time at Randy's(Randys) Studio 17 for the following week. This historic first session produced 'Iggy Iggy', a version to The Heptones' 'Why Did You Leave', and on this, and subsequent releases such as 'The Red Sea' and 'East Of The River Nile', the pair established a sound that would dominate reggae for years to come. Horace Swaby actually became Augustus Pablo and the music that he created would for ever after convey the depth of mystery that Herman had intended the 'Augustus Pablo' name to portray.

"Pablo using the name was never a problem." Herman Chin Roy

The following year Pablo moved on to work with Clive Chin an old school friend from Kingston College. Clive had gone straight into the family business at Randy's(Randys) after leaving KC and 'Java', a Pablo melodica instrumental with harmonies from The Chosen Few, was a huge hit and was voted 'Top Instrumental Record' for 1972. Further versions of the 'Java' rhythm ensued and Clive and Pablo then followed these with one of the most accomplished long playing sets ever made: 'This Is Augustus Pablo'.

"Over the past years reggae has generated a trend in and 'round Jamaica and other parts of the world. Today the type of sound which the younger generation digs is the rebel rock music which is here now."
'This Is Augustus Pablo'

It was King Tubby who realised that the melodica was at its most haunting when played in minor keys and it was at Tubby's prompting that Pablo's 'Far East' signature sound was born.

"Tubby's a my brother! Him buy xylophone for me... him did show me certain things and him come like the man who pass the music... just say in a them type of key there..." Augustus Pablo

In 1972 Pablo began to produce records for his Hot Stuff and Rockers labels but his first self production, 'Kid Ralph', came out on Panther a Dynamic Sounds' subsidiary label. The first release on Pablo's legendary Rockers label was 'Skanking Easy' a cut to a tune originally featured in 'Fiddler On The Roof' that The Soul Vendors had adapted and adopted a few years previously at Studio One as 'Swing Easy'. He was to return to Brentford Road rhythms for many of his greatest releases, not out of any lack of inspiration, but as part of his vision of expanding the myriad possibilities inherent in these tunes.

"The first records nah sell much. We'd only press 100/100, 200/200 or 300/300 at a time." Augustus Pablo

But reworking or doing over these musical templates became more and more popular as the decade progressed and the direction that Pablo had taken in 1972/73 was later carried to its inevitable conclusion by Bunny Striker Lee, the Hookim brothers(Joseph Hookim) at Channel One and Joe Gibbs(Joel Gibson) and Errol T(Errol Thompson) as The Mighty Two. As well as recording for his own labels Pablo also cut countless classic sides for many other producers including two different versions of Lee 'Scratch' Perry(Lee Perry)'s classic 'Fever' rhythm entitled 'Hot And Cold', 'Fat Baby' for Keith Hudson and 'Bass And Drums Version' and 'Bells Of Death' for Derrick Harriott.

Pablo's name, and the concept of dub, was first introduced to an international audience in 1975 when Jacob Miller sung 'Baby I Love You So' (over Pablo's 'Cassava Piece' rhythm from 1973) which Tubby then took apart and rebuilt as 'King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown' on the B side. The Tubby's version was promoted to the A side when Island Records released the record in London and the music press belatedly began to sit up and take notice of this starting new phenomenon. Two years later a selection of Tubby's B sides for Pablo were collected together for the epochal 'King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown' album. This set has no equal: if you want to know what dub is all about, what it means and, perhaps most importantly of all, what it meant nearly thirty five years ago then there is no better place to start than 'King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown'. Originally released on Brad Osborne's New York based Clocktower label this faultless collection has never been out of press since 1977... and has never been bettered.

"First LP me put out. Me want Tubbys to mix a dub LP in stereo but I see dub different from how everybody else see it. Me nuh invent dub! (That was) a whole class of us together drawing out the rhythm and just echo it. So them call it dub.......but some people give different meanings for dub. Me is a man who try to do something new. Me nuh follow nothing!" Augustus Pablo

Over the next two decades, as each successive wave of musical styles and fashions ebbed and flowed, Pablo continued to make music completely unmoved by whatever happened to be this week's flavour of the month. Fads came and fads went but Pablo's transcendental releases on his Rockers and Message labels were always timeless and full of a power beyond the here and now that, at times, seemed to stretch into infinity.

"I try to create in everything I do. In every move I make. Not only music alone. In everything I do. I'm not in the studio every day. I don't burn out a lot of energy that way. I turn it into myself and the works...

I just lock off playing for other people. Comes a time when you draw in 'pon producers. Anything they can do we can do better! Most of the producers well... it's really musicians who make the music. They build up a different vibe. Me name musician and them only name producer! So me just start producing myself." Augustus Pablo

But Augustus Pablo refused to take the credit that rightly belonged to him: "People call it successful. I just doing the works, you know." He died 18th May 1999 of Myasthenia Gravis, a rare nerve disorder, at a tragically early age and, while his health had visibly deteriorated over the last ten years of his life, his music continued to be an evangelical confession of faith. A deeply religious man many of his records cite Haile Selassie as co-producer but Pablo's deep knowledge and understanding of Jamaican musical history formed another cornerstone of his work. The spirituality of his music was underpinned at all times by deep, dark rhythms and its intangibility was both unprecedented and unparalleled in popular music. His Rockers International Record Shop on Orange Street continues to this day to supply the Rockers in downtown Kingston and Pablo's music will live everywhere for evermore.

1. Dillinger - Take It Easy  3:06
2. Augustus Pablo - Dub  3:00
3. Jah T - El Rocker  2:41
4. Augustus Pablo - Rocking Dub  2:06
5. Jah Levi - False Rumour  2:52
6. Augustus Pablo - Real Rock 2:55
7. Jah Levi - Zion A Fe Lion 2:36
8. Augustus Pablo - Bob Shuffle Lion Dub 2:49
9. Jah Bull - Guide I Jah 3:26
10. Augustus Pablo - Lion Of Judah Dub 3:31
11. Jah Levi - Let Jah Be Praised 2:54
12. Dillinger - Braces A Boy 2:49

Bass – Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Robert "Robby" Shakespear
Drums – Carlton "Charlie" Barrett
Engineer – Errol Thompson
Guitar – Earl "Chinna" Smith
Organ, Piano, Clarinet, Producer – Augustus Pablo
Saxophone [Tenor] – Richard "Dirty Harry" Hall
Trombone – Vincent "Don D Johnson" Gordon
Trumpet – Bobby Ellis