Dominic's Staff Pick: November 17, 2022

What’s up Sorry State friends? Thanks for taking the time to check in with us and read the newsletter. We’ll be away for Thanksgiving next week, but that isn’t stopping the cogs from turning here at Sorry State Industries. We are preparing the Record Store Day Black Friday releases for that weekend and each day brings packages from our label and distributor friends full of new releases and key restocks. Lots to process and that’s just the new product. We have been out buying used records too, and Daniel has been racking up some road miles traveling to and fro, scoring some killer vintage vinyl. Those of you that can make it into the store will be seeing the fruits of these travels each week in our new used arrivals bins. Cool.

I unfortunately write with a heavy heart this week as one of my beautiful cats passed away. She died suddenly and before her time but mercifully did not suffer. I’m honestly gutted and very sad. Her name was Kate and she and I had a very close and special bond. I loved the shit out of that girl and perhaps because I don’t have family and close friends near me, I project all my emotions at her and my other cats. They are my family. I feel such a sense of loss and will be raw with grief for a while.

That being said, this is our newsletter, and you came here looking for suggestions on good records to listen to and not to be bummed out by my sadness. So on with the show.

I am not sure how many of you are sports fans and care, but in a couple of days the World Cup begins in Qatar. There’s lots to discuss about the how and why of FIFA selecting Qatar as the host, and there’s also plenty to talk about when it comes to the human rights records of the region, especially the treatment of the LBGT community. Also, the circumstances that have meant the tournament takes place in the winter and interrupts many countries’ domestic football seasons. All of that you’ll have to discuss amongst yourselves and read and watch on your favorite sports channels, but I will say that I do follow football and enjoy the World Cup and hope that hosting the competition in Qatar will have a positive effect on the region.

For our radio show, Worldy, this coming Monday, Matt and I are having a marathon six-hour World Cup themed show. We’ll be playing music from all or as many as we can of the 32 countries taking part. Starting at 10 AM EST. That Monday has England and USA playing their respective first group games, so it should be a fun and interesting time.

I wish Jamaica had qualified, because then I could really say that my staff pick was completely appropriate, but they didn’t this time. However, I still have to select Scientist Wins The World Cup as my choice this week. The cover art alone qualifies it even if the music is dub reggae from Jamaica. With the mood I have been in this week, it has been tough to find the right music to listen to. I’m not quite ready to rage with anger to punk rock and I am not wanting to listen to super sad loner folk either. Instrumental music is the answer, and good dub reggae will always hit the spot. As this record was pulled and sitting out, I put it on the turntable, and when the needle hit the groove and the music began, I immediately felt good. This is the stuff alright.

Originally released back in 1982 on the great Greensleeves label with ten tracks simply titled ten dangerous matches, this was one of several albums Scientist released during the early 1980s that are considered dub classics. All had great titles and jacket art to go along with it. To name a few, Heavyweight Dub Champion and Big Showdown have a boxing theme, Meets The Space Invaders and Encounters Pac-Man have video game references, and the classic Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires, which obviously has a horror and Halloween theme. That last one seems to be the one people always mention and possibly is the highest profile of the series based on some of the tracks appearing in modern video games.

They’re all great records. Hopeton “Scientist” Brown, the protégé of King Tubby and Bunny Lee and contemporary of Prince Jammy, was at his creative peak during this period. He recorded mostly with The Roots Radics band at Channel One Studio, where he was the principal engineer, and with vocals from some of the best singers around. On World Cup, vocals come from Johnny Osbourne, Hugh Mundell and Wayne Jarrett, all top talents. Additional production assistance comes from Junjo Lawes, another top engineer and producer who cut his teeth at King Tubby’s.

The cover art features The Roots Radics beating England 6-1 in a football match in a great painting by Tony McDermott, whose artwork featured on countless reggae records and helped define the look of Greensleeves releases. Despite the football themed title and cover, there isn’t too much musically that would make you think about the beautiful game. The songs used for the dubs are almost all love songs or songs that were about lost love. Typical with dub versions, the songs used are begun with the vocal part to set the song up and inform the listener of the base used, but after a bar or two the vocals are faded out and then the mixing board skills of Scientist kick in. Pure genius from the man. Everything is top notch from the source material used, the musicians and singers who cut the tunes, to the studio and equipment used. You can rest assured that when you pick any record with Scientist’s name on it that the sound will be great.

It might have been great if some sound effects from football matches and crowd noise had been included, but there is an argument that then the record would only have limited listening potential. As it is, you don’t have to know anything about football to appreciate this album. With the mood of sadness I was in this week, songs about broken hearts were quite appropriate. Highlights are many, but album opener Dangerous Match One is crucial, with a bass line for the ages, and should be a good enough reason to listen if nothing else. The dub based on Johnny Osbourne’s Ice Cream Love is a great additional dub that came out on expanded versions of the album as Extra Time tracks, which are all just as good as the original ten tracks. I highly recommend you investigate the rest of the album and any of the Scientist albums from the period. They’re all fire. As with a lot of great music, originals can be expensive and hard to find, but luckily there are reissues and digital sources these days for everyone to get their fix depending on their budget and listening habits. My copy of World Cup is a reissue that has six of the extra tracks included and doesn’t sound too bad. I have originals of some Scientist records but will take them in any form to get the music rather than be without when they are this good.

Go check this one out and enjoy the World Cup.

Cheers - Dom

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