Joe Gibbs was a hugely successful reggae producer. Which in itself wouldn’t normally give him even a millimetre of space in Prog.
However, beyond his commercial success, Gibbs was adept in the field of dub music, an electronic offshoot of reggae. His use of studio technology and cutting edge techniques were put to spectacular use in a series of albums under the generic title of African Dub. Of these, …Chapter 3 is the most startling. Not only was his use of rhythms totally left field and unpredictable, but he also experimented with sounds in a way that mirrored what Godley & Creme would later undertake. He also incorporated a world music ethic, which was to inform much of Peter Gabriel’s subsequent work. For this alone, this album should be regarded as worthy of investigation by any prog fan. However, it’s not merely the connection to Gabriel or Godley & Creme that makes it interesting. In its own right, this is a fascinating excursion, often using a sparse trivial groove juxtaposed against the backdrop of avant-garde notations. It’s a remarkable free-form approach that makes …Chapter 3 visionary and unique.
Opening with Chapter Three, as the famed combination of drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare (whose own A Dub Experience should be checked out if you enjoy this) were given free reign to explore all the indentations of what appears to be a straightforward rhythmic tirade. This leads into Rema Dub, which has traces of space rock, making it mysteriously atmospheric, a brass section adding a surreal accent. That’s one of the great things about …Chapter 3. It isn’t afraid to go anywhere. The Entebbe Affair delves into a more Krautrock amalgam, with a somewhat Tangerine Dream feel, while Dub Three uses all manner of effects to give a haunting echo.
Gibbs himself doesn’t play on the album. Nor does he produce it; that role went to Errol Thompson. But it is his vision that drives the music, as he takes on the role of executive producer and remix engineer. He never settles for the obvious, with every track being based around very simple ideas, which are then expanded and augmented by brilliant studio magic. Coming from a reggae background gave Gibbs an advantage in creating this progressive piece; he had no baggage from rock or pop roots. This allowed him complete freedom, something he used enthusiastically to develop a style which began with the established sub-genre of dub, but went far beyond this constraint. African Dub – All Mighty Chapter 3 should be regarded as an important part of the prog world.