Keith Hudson
Playing It Cool & Playing It Right
Week-End Records
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1Playing It Cool 1:57
2Playing It Right Dub 1:51
3Trust And Believe 3:35
4In I Dub 2:51
5California 2:56
6By Night Dub 2:49
7Not Good For Us 2:50
8Formula Dub 2:52
9Be What You Want To Be 2:38
10Be Good Dub 2:22
11I Can't Do Without You 1:58
12Still Need You Dub 1:58

Keith Hudson was a one-of-a-kind musical innovator with an impeccable track record from the start: his first studio recording involved former Skatalites, and his earliest releases provided solid-gold hits for Ken Boothe, John Holt, Delroy Wilson, U-Roy and the others.

With »Pick a Dub« Hudson produced one of the best dub albums ever, and with »The Black Breast Has Produced Her Best«, »Flesh Of My Skin«, »Blood Of My Blood« he released the first concept album in reggae history, bringing his all-around talents to full fruition as early as 1974. Thematically dedicated entirely to Black history, the latter of these two albums is a masterpiece that captivates with an atmosphere that is as dark as it is deeply spiritual, charged by Hudson's eccentric vocals. Like Lloyd Bullwackie Barnes, his splitting from tradition was dynamic and all his own.

As his career moved on, Hudson found himself working outside of Jamaica, more frequently in London and New York studios and for transatlantic audiences, his dark experimentalism becoming increasingly better suited to the LP than the cardinal 7” reggae format.

»Playing It Cool & Playing It Right« was released in 1981 on the Joint International label, in NYC, with Lloyd Bullwackie Barnes as the executive producer. The Love Joys and Wayne Jarrett, stalwarts of Barnes' record label, Wackies, would also inimitably feature Hudson at the microphone. Like Bullwackie, Hudson was a devotee of Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One and Playing It Cool & Playing It Right follows Dodd’s then strategy of overdubbing his signature rhythms. The Studio One sides were aimed at the dancefloor and Hudson’s reworkings of tracks like “Melody Maker” are more psychological. Here, deep Barrett Brothers rhythms are made deeper with reverb, filters and distortion; everything pitched down and overlaid with new recordings of guitar, percussion, keyboard, and voice, often heavily treated.

»Playing It Cool & Playing It Right«“ continues Hudson’s psycho-acoustic journey into the abysses of existence, and overwhelms with the beauty of artistic self-empowerment. »Too much formula,« sings Hudson, whose voice is occasionally reminiscent of Sly Stone or even Tom Waits. »Darkest night,« answers an echoing background choir elsewhere. Even more fascinating is Hudson's production, which reflects Black history in even the smallest sound detail, the flashing whip of the slave driver still echoes in the sound of the snare drum. Rarely has a roots sound been made so electrifying, so expansive in all directions, so crystal clear, so bass-warm and echophonic as on these 30 minutes of music.

»Playing It Cool & Playing It Right« is legendary, strange, utterly compelling music that has possibly never been more topical than it is today.