David Bowie polymath, Briton, chameleon, duke, enigma … the list could go on until Z for Ziggy. David Bowie morphed from folkie to space popper, from West Berlin myth to chic regular at Studio 54, from pop star to actor to art connoisseur. But although the Thin White Duke repeatedly drank from the cup of black music history, no proper Bowie dub mix (in the Jamaican sense) survives – and certainly not a complete album-length dub set.
Producer Lee Groves and the longest-serving German dub label Echo Beach, specialists for cases like this, were unanimous: something needed to be done! Thanks to a worldwide network of musicians and studio whizzes, versions of legendary songs including by The Police, Grace Jones, Martha & The Muffins, Ton Steine Scherben and most recently Robert Palmer have been created here.
Lee Groves perfected his studio craft on three continents. In 1990s London, he co-founded the PuSH label and its in-house project Terminalhead, before becoming a founding member of Hex Orchestra and working with the likes of Goldfrapp, Beck, Ruts DC, Gwen Stefani and even produced Janet Jackson’s legendary Superbowl performance, among many others. A productive period in Australia was eventually followed by a move to Brooklyn, New York, his current home. His path is paved by hundreds of productions, including several soundtracks and last but not least: dub versions made for Echo Beach of tracks by Lee “Scratch” Perry, Martha & The Muffins, Horace Andy and Dub Syndicate, among others. They are collected in the Echo Beach compilation “Dance A Dub”, released in March.
Thus, the circle closes and segues into freestyle in the shape of a complete album of Bowie material in dub style. From dance Bowie (“Fame”), space Bowie (“Ashes To Ashes”, “Blackstar”), “Fashion” Bowie or Berlin Bowie (“Heroes”): in Lee Grove’s multi-track mixer they are transformed into bass-heavy, spherical dubs on top, interspersed with thin air between hissing hihats and drifting synth modulations, between which fragments of the Thin White Duke’s lyrics shimmer in all rainbow colours. “Let’s Dance” shimmies on an acid line, “Fashion” shines in a new ghetto look, “Space Oddity” becomes a space echo odyssey in orbit. “Dubby Stardust” is another milestone in Echo Beach’s dub cycle catalogue and a long overdue tribute to the pop chameleon who died in 2016 – a compilation that draws on the collective memory of three generations of fans.