Jim Lister spins the story of his distinctive dub night and radio show
[vur-zhuh n, -shuh n]
1 Dub and dub influenced music, from reggae to disco, house to techno and beyond
2 A radio show, Facebook group, blog and occasional club night
“Dub is not so much tied down to a specific genre of music, but is rather an approach, an aesthetic or a state of mind.”
2003 was a big year. Not only was it the year I discovered the Faith Fanzine Forum; it was also the year of my first trip to New York City. And as life experiences go, it doesn’t get much bigger than NYC (or Faith, obviously).
But there was a problem… apparently I’d missed the boat. In 2003 New York was no longer edgy or cool. The city had been cleaned up and sanitised… it had lost its soul. I’d missed Larry at The Garage, I’d missed Junior at The Sound Factory… I’d even missed FK, Danny Krivit and Joe Claussell at Body & Soul. Recent laws meant the clubs were shutting down, and New York was a pale imitation of its former self.
Or so I read. But that’s not how it works, as I was soon to find out.
We landed on a warm Thursday afternoon in November 2003, and after a couple of days of sight-seeing – including the surreal experience of visiting Ground Zero where people tried to sell us videos of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Err, no thanks. It was fast approaching Saturday night and time to visit the legendary Club Shelter.
Like typical tourists, we arrived way too early at about 12.30am… and it wasn’t until 3 or 4am that things really started to get going. But boy, was it worth the wait. From 4-7am all my New York clubbing dreams came true. Everything I’d read about the Paradise Garage and The Loft suddenly made sense, as I danced under a giant disco ball in the centre of the Shelter dancefloor surrounded by the best dancers I’d ever seen – at 7am, in New York City, whilst Timmy Regisford played Alan Smithee in Blue Blackness’ Sounds Like Ultra for the third time. The music, the dancers, the sound system, the breakfast buffet – it was everything I’d wanted from a New York club experience. I fell in love with house music all over again that night and to this day, Shelter is still the best club I’ve ever been to.
So that was Saturday night. On the Monday evening, we ventured over to the Meat Packing District to go to Francois Kevorkian’s new ‘Deep Space’ night at Cielo (it had been going for six months at that point). My mind was blown all over again, but in a very different way. Cielo was a much smaller space than Shelter, 200 or 250 people to Shelter’s 1000-plus, and it was a much plusher venue. It looked like someone had spent a lot of money on the layout and design, and the light show was like something from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A sweaty warehouse party this was not.
But what I found most fascinating about Deep Space was the concept itself. I’d been doing my research before the trip, checking Kervorkian’s playlists on the Deep Space website (http://www.deepspacenyc.com), and reading about the whole ethos behind the night (essentially dubby, spaced out music in all its forms).
According to the Deep Space website, FK’s set on the opening night in April 2003 included King Tubby, Jeff Mills, King Sunny Ade, The Doors, Joe Claussell, The Peech Boys, Aril Brikha, Stevie Wonder, Burning Spear, Marianne Faithful, Led Zeppelin. This was my kinda shit.
On the night we went, it was very much the same approach. I remember the first hour was deep and ambient, slowly building. But by the end of the night we’d gone through Detroit techno, drum ’n’ bass, Augustus Pablo, The Orb, Pat Metheny… at one point, FK played Jamming by Bob Marley and it sounded incredible. A proper dancefloor moment.
So the seed was sown. I went back to New York again in 2004 and 2005 and went to Shelter and Deep Space on each trip. They didn’t disappoint. Francois K came over to the UK around the same time, and did a couple of Deep Space nights down at Plastic People. Legendary nights with Ade keeping the club open a bit longer than usual, so FK could do his thing.
Fast forward ten years later to 2014, by which time I’d got seriously deep into dub and reggae. I was spending more money on reggae and dub than any other music: more than jazz, more than house, I was obsessed.
I’d read Lloyd Bradley’s Bass Culture book cover-to-cover three times. But I was struggling to find a decent dub/reggae night to go to. I kept thinking how I wish London had a night like Deep Space where you could hear all forms of dub music. Not just Jamaican reggae and dub (as much as I loved it), but also disco stuff like D-Train, Grace Jones, Padlock or West End, house and techno like Nu Groove, Carl Craig and Basic Channel, all the way up to modern dubstep like Mala and Pinch. All forms of dub music, under one roof.
Around Christmas 2014 I started a thread on Facebook, suggesting that London nightlife needed a club night like Deep Space – and loads of people seemed to agree. So I decided to give the club promotion business a go, and start up my own night; Deep Space but with a London attitude.
And so VERSION was born. Residents and guests included Demus, Kirk Degiorgio, Ross Allen and Dobie, and we did a launch party at Dance Tunnel (thank you Dan Beaumont) plus a few parties at Brilliant Corners, both in Dalston.
I also started a VERSION Facebook group, and a VERSION blog, where I asked dub music lovers to post charts of dub tunes that have influenced them. We’ve had charts from DJ Milo, Ashley Beedle, Earl Zinger, Ross Allen, Nat Birchall, Paul Bradshaw and many more.
Since I moved down to Brighton in January 2016, VERSION has also become a radio show on local station 1 Brighton FM (fortnightly on Sunday mornings, 10am-Midday). So if this sounds up your alley, have a listen. All my shows are posted on Mixcloud too, just check the links below.
15 VERSION Anthems
1 Jackie Mittoo - Ayatollah 12” (Nefertiti, 1979)
Psychedelic spiritual roots reggae
2 The Observers - Organ Satta 7” (Observer, 2010)
Originally from late 70’s. Killer organ dub version of The Abyssinians roots classic ’Satta Massaganna’. The Observers were Niney the Observer’s house band, and pretty much the same line up as the Soul Syndicate. Big up Alex Voices for putting me onto this one.
3 Pink Floyd - Echoes (Meddle LP, Harvest, 1971)
A Gilles Peterson ‘Vibrazone’ classic on Kiss FM (from seven minutes onwards especially), and played twice at the first VERSION party at Dance Tunnel, including the last tune of the night with Demus EQ-ing the ghost noises. Deep!
4 Arthur Russell - In The Light Of The Miracle (The World of Arthur Russell 3xLP, Soul Jazz Records, 2004)
Big up David Hill for this amazing compilation. There’s a couple of different versions of this tune but this is the one. The root of what VERSION is all about.
5 Gwen Guthrie - Seventh Heaven (Padlock 2x12”, Garage Records, 1983)
Sly & Robbie, Wally Badarou, Gwen Guthrie, Larry Levan… the ultimate dubbed out disco tune.
6 Ednah Holt - Serious Sirius Sax Party (The Unreleased Dub) 12” (West End Records, 1999)
I’ll never forget Francois K opening one of his Deep Space parties at Plastic People with this. Blew me and my mate Dayo’s heads off.
7 Singers & Players - Kunta Kinte Dub (Trevor Jackson Presents Science Fiction Dancehall Classics 3xLP, On-U Sound, 2015)
Lovely mid 80s On-U Sound version of one of the biggest Jah Shaka dubplates. Shaka used to play the Channel One/Revolutionaries version, which itself was a version of Creole’s Beware Of Your Enemies. Version of a Version of a Version.
8 Soul II Soul - Happiness (Dub) (Club Classics Vol 1 LP, 10 Records, 1989)
A lot of people don’t seem to know this, which is odd considering how massive the album was.
9 Ability II - Pressure Dub 12” (Bassic, 1990)
The perfect dubbed out house tune. Big up Bootsy Wilson for this one.
10 Round Two feat Andy Caine - New Day (Club Vocal) 12” (Main Street Records, 1995)
Best house tune ever made?
11 Rhythm & Sound - Mango Drive 12” (Rhythm & Sound, 1998)
Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus AKA Basic Channel’s deep dubbed out techno version of a Chosen Brothers track on Wackie’s from 1979.
12 Cassandra Wilson - Run The Voodoo Down (Joaquin Runs The Voodoo Down Mix) 2x12” (Spiritual Life Music, 2002)
The biggest tune at the first VERSION party at Dance Tunnel, as played by Demus. Deep house to get lost in on the dancefloor.
13 Pinch - Qawwali 12” (Planet Mu, 2006)
I’m not the biggest dubstep head, but I love people like Pinch, Mala, Burial and the early Skream stuff. I think this samples Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and I love the minimalism of it.
14. Lee Perry & The Upsetters aka Black Ark Players - Upsetting Rhythm #2 10” (Black Art, 2015)
Psychedelic Scratch Genius… released on a 10” a couple of years ago by the Japanese reissue label Rock A Shacka.
15 Dele Sosimi meets Prince Fatty and Nostalgia 77 - Dance Together Dub (You No Fit Touch Am In Dub LP, Wah Wah 45s, 2016)
A big tune on my VERSION radio show on 1 Brighton FM last year. A perfect blend of afrobeat and dub – plus it was mixed in Brighton at Prince Fatty’s studio, The Ironworks. So keeping things nice and local.
VERSION on 1 Brighton FM (2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, 10am-Midday)
The next show is Sunday, 26th March and features an interview w/ drummer Richard Spaven (4 Hero/Jose James/Flying Lotus)
All my shows are archived here https://www.mixcloud.com/jimmyjean/
VERSION Facebook group