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Stubborn Records inna Single Style

The Anglo/American fascination with music from the Caribbean dates back to Joseph Spence, a blues styled acoustic guitar player from the ‘40s, and probably before that. But in Spence’s wake, there’ve been countless groups and players that have sought to engender whatever vibe comes from those island nations and their music.

Jamaica, as much as anywhere else apart from Cuba, has seen a spotlight shone on its music which resulted in one of the most widely recognizable personages in music – Bob Marley. And while Marley is by no stretch of the imagination the best representative of all musical stuffs from JA, the fact that he spawned hordes of impersonators is worth noting.

But once folks get tired of emulating the island’s biggest star, they’re bound to dig deeper into JA music and find that there’s an endless amount of talent to wade through. I have no idea when King Django realized his calling and when he came to figure that releasing music based on a JA tradition was the way that he should occupy his time, but anyone with ear holes should be pleased that he came to that conclusion.

Turning the money he made performing with East Bay punkers Rancid into a (kinda) recording empire was a move that probably assured Django’s story being retold for years to come in reggae music circles across the States. His Stubborn Records label has played host to Americans as well as Jamaicans seeking a proper outlet for music while his Version City Studio has been a shelter for all of it to be recorded.

Founded in 1992, Django’s label has used a variety of formats to release its music. And seeing as the seven inch single and forty-five is one as native to reggae music as any other, it seems fitting that the label honcho focused the label’s out put on vinyl. Now, though, he’s corralled some of his works onto an easy to digest compact disc simply called Version City 45s.

In showcase style, a number of the vocal tracks are accompanied by its version. Rocker T, who has somehow escaped renown, turns in “Dread inna Mi Heart” which details his affinity for Rasta culture. As spry as the vocal track is, its dub, “Dub inna Mi Heart” recalls the heady days of Rocker T’s first long player back in the mid ‘90s when Victor Rice worked out the instrumentals.

But there are some Jamaican natives that appear on the disc as well. Best known, though, is Johnny Osbourne. His cut, “Let There Be Love,” begins the disc, with its dub, making generous use of the original’s chorus, renders it an early album highlight.

There’s really not a clunker represented over the entirety of the disc’s fourteen tracks, which clock in at just under fifty minutes - but probably no one expected there to be a downer moment. The consistency here and over all of Django’s own recordings point to the fact that sooner or later he’s going to receive a glut of attention. When that time is, though, we’ll have to wait for. Soon come…