CD Review: Dub Nation, Rising Force for Change

Dub Nation, Rising Force for Change2011
www.nationrizn.com

What with the presence of 1) a couple of alumni from The Spinners, 2) a whole bunch of 60s-era rock/pop lyrics like “spinning on a carousel” and “we’ve got to come together,” and 3) a few left-over melodies from 70s soul and gospel, you might think this album by Dub Nation is neither current nor really reggae. On the first point, I’d say that may actually be in its favor and in any case there is a bit of contemporary MCing in there. On the second point, I’d simply report that the group does try to save the world with at least half the tracks, so I rest my case: it is reggae. Rastafarian-style reggae, in fact.

And it’s very good reggae, in large part because it so effectively borrows from the past and from other genres. For example, the exaggerated soul-era vocal mannerisms of Stevie Wonder’s “’Tis a Shame” (pronounced, of course, shay-yame) work beautifully; they make me want to sing along. And the highly enjoyable “Goodbye to Yesterday” actually says hello to yesterday with its percolating bass and nostalgic rocksteady feel. To take a broader view, the varied but always strong one-drop rhythms are based in the roots of Trenchtown but surrounded by smooth, ultra-professional and often complex arrangements that make great use of a flawless horn section and even a small orchestra, with strings.

Sure, there’s nothing on Rising Force for Change that’s as strong and funky as, oh, let’s say the full-length (i.e. album) version of “Rubberband Man” from The Spinners’ heyday – which would be asking way too much, I know. But the disc does offer today’s listener a pleasurable backward glance as part of its “Generous Dub” (to quote the final track’s title) of atypically spiced reggae.



About Ted Boothroyd :

Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete. Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood. | View all posts by Ted Boothroyd

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Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete.

Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood.

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