THE DYNAMIC DUO'S DEBUT
home-body | northern california,usa | 12/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"GENERAL SMILEY and PAPA MICHIGAN were the first DJs to become popular in the late 70s by working in combination. They trade off flawlessly, and use vocals you can understand. Unlike many others, this team realized that they didn't have to use slang or ghetto language in order to retain their roots. "RUB A DUB STYLE" features the pioneering duo toasting (rapping) over old rock-steady rhythms pre-recorded at STUDIO ONE. For example, the team's hit "RUB A DUB STYLE" uses the same rhythm track as the one used by rock-steady superstar Alton Ellis on his song "I'm Just a Guy." And the duo's follow up hit, "NICE UP THE DANCE" borrows the music from a 1967 Soul Vendor's song called "REAL ROCK."The topics tackled by this duo are not related to guns or slackness (sex), no. Instead they are more likely to praise Jah and celebrate life. Some lyrics have cultural themes, ("THANK YOU JAH") while other songs are more about having fun while still on earth, ("TIME TO BE HAPPY).Their delivery is very relaxed and the vocals stay with the tempo of the music. The team has a identifiable pattern where often times, one D.J. will repeat a phrase twice and then the other will respond by repeating a different phrase twice then they will both sing a new group of words in unison. Their use of clear expressive language that sometimes incorporates nods to nursery rhymes such as "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary," sounds almost child-like but at the same time the lyrics retain a sharpness to them. On the disc, the listener is treated to 6 extended mixes by these artists. On each of the 6 songs there's about 3 minutes worth of toasting and then the dub version is, not-so-seamlessly, tacked on for the remainder of the tune. So each song is approximately 6 minutes. This works pretty well, making the album length a little over 30 minutes. Yes, this is short but unfortunately 30 minutes is the average length of a lot of Jamaican albums that were originally released on vinyl. But, some bonus tracks might've been nice. Or putting this album and another one by the same artists onto one CD would have been a better deal. Oh, well. I should be reviewing the material not the package.A note of visual interest: On the front cover is a picture of SMILEY and MICHIGAN looking a little like a Jamaican version of Run DMC. They are wearing matching red, white, and blue gym suits, large tinted bifocals, and fedora hats. On the back cover you can see the D.J. duo with their pant legs stuffed into their stripped gym socks while wearing dress shoes on their feet. If this doesn't spell style, I don't know what does.One thing I DO know is, if you like some of the more relaxed old-school D.J. style reggae or want an idea of what this ground-breaking D.J. duo was capable of, you'll want to get this disc. This CD is pure fun and while listening to it you'll recognize the value of this duo's clever choice of words and feeling for melodic structure. You'll appreciate why MICHIGAN AND SMILEY'S style is nothing like that of other D.J.s today.Respect! -Mark "Homebody" Groesbeck"