Dave & Ansell Collins – Double Barrel

22nd September 1970 · 1970, 1970s, Music, Reggae

This is the first reggae tune I ever heard and probably the song that instilled a lifelong love of dub production.

As a 12-year-old at boarding school in a foreign country, I didn’t know what reggae was, let alone dub, if it had even been invented in 1970 (I mean, it had, but it hadn’t really reached leafy prep schools in Sussex).

But I knew I loved the syncipated funky-but-not-funk rhythm, the spare, echoey sounds surrounding the infectious piano melody, the mysterious grunts and and the exotic nonsense lyrics “I. Am. The magnificent. W-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh”.

Much later I learned that Dave and Ansell Collins weren’t brothers – Dave Barker was the singer, Ansell Collins played that earworm of a piano melody – and that they had worked with Lee “Scratch” Perry in the 1960s.

In fact the dub-like production is pure Perry, so it’s a surprise to learn that it’s actually produced (and written) by Winston Riley of The Techniques. Oh and the drums are played by an 18-year-old Sly Dunbar, making his recording debut by on a song that would top the charts in the UK.

A year later, Dave and Ansell brought back their “heavy heavy monster sound” with another hit, Monkey Spanner. To this day I can never quite remember which one is which as both are in that slim category of tunes whose titles are not referenced in the song.