Tradition – Captain Ganja & the Space Patrol LP – Venture – 1980 (Bokeh Versions RE LP 2017)

When Jamaican music hit the UK scene in the late 60s, it was a merely a novelty offered to the working class teens of all color. With the start-up of Trojan Records and sounds such as Ska, Roots, Rocksteady and Lover’s Rock, it wasn’t long before Britain adapted its own street variation with a rebel sound. By the 70s, Reggae began to flood the streets and became one of the most influential sounds to the British music scene.

In 1976, Tradition was formed by Chris Henry, Les McNeil, Paul Thompson, Paul Dawkins and Tony Matthews. Initially the band’s sound was Roots, Lover’s rock, & dub. By 1980, Tradition created a long lost gem of some of the most progressive and inventive Dub reggae that pushed the boundaries of the genre itself with, “Captain Ganja and the Space Patrol”.  At the time, dub music was an established sub-genre dominated by a few artists that popularized the sound, such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, King Tubby and Scientist. More specifically, the “Space” Dub sound was largely given credit to Scientist’s 1981 record release, “Scientist Meets the Space Invaders”.  “Captain Ganja and the Space Patrol” was released a year prior, and never received the proper marketing and distribution to give Tradition the recognition it deserved; virtually never seeing the light of day. For decades this record has been an artifact and a “holy grail” for every Reggae collector, selling for hundreds of dollars. Thanks to the British record label Bokeh Versions, this long lost gem has been reissued in 2017, giving every collector a chance to get their hands on this astonishing LP.

With a standard ‘slow and low’ dub approach, Tradition mashes this foundation with Roland samplers, echoed synths and jazzy improvisations giving it a rich conceptual space-age/science fiction atmosphere and breaking away from the normal drum and bass progression that popularized dub music. With tracks such as “Morning on Mars” and “Subaquatic Swerves”, I get a sense of laying on a sunny beach, yet it’s inhabited on a different planet. The mysterious wet synths, echoes, effects and rocking bass, mixed with the bright trumpets and oceanic sound effects, gives it a smooth blend of the two completely different atmospheres. Conceptually dub music was birthed out of removing vocals from reggae songs to create reggae instrumentals also called riddims. This stripped down approach to reggae can be an acquired taste, but “Captain Ganja and the Space Patrol” would be my first recommendation to anyone wanting to delve into the world of Dub music. The complexion of this record would keep any type of listener attuned and excited instrumentally and vocally. Make sure to pick this LP up from one of Britain’s finest revival dub/progressive record labels that’s currently running the scene!

TG – 2017