Recorded at Chapel Studios, South Thoresby, Lincolnshire. Mixed at Parr Street Studios, Liverpool. All tracks constructed by Dub War. Produced by Bryan New for 140dB.
Released on Earache Records, 1998 and 2007 (MOSH121CD).
This review is about a week late because last weekend I was in London singing with the Alumni of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain at Christ Church, Spitalfields, and I’ve not really caught up since. From the sublime to the ridiculous…
It doesn’t seem that long ago since I review Dub War — Wrong Side of Beautiful (1996) but it turns out to have been more than 18 months ago. I loved that album, so I approached this album with a certain degree of excitement and anticipation.
The opening track ‘Mental’ bubbles to a start with that familiar Dub War, reggae feel and bounces along happily from start to finish. It doesn’t quite set me on fire but it’s a decent enough song.
In fact this is quite a slow, laid-back album, as I guess you should expect from a reggae-infused album. It isn’t until track four (‘Word of warning’) before there’s a bit of pace.
‘Strike it’ (track five) has a great chorus that seamlessly leads into a bit of random scatting jazz and back out again. It’s inspired and I can’t help but smile listening to it.
Another stand-out track for me is ‘Spiritual warfare’ (track 10). I just like the way it chugs along, like a train through a reggae/rock countryside.
‘Fools gold’ has a weird, tripped out lounge feel which, for some reason, makes me think of ‘The Silver Hawaiian’ by Helmet. It sounds nothing like it but has a similar, silly vibe, perhaps. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the album for sure.
The album picks up pace towards the end. ‘Over now’ and ‘Psycho system’ are full-on rock-out tracks. ‘Anadin’, the only instrumental on the album, is a bass- and drums-heavy monolith of a track: one to remember if I ever need a soundtrack for a montage of a heavy-goods truck driving through the night.
The closing couple of tracks ‘Why?’ (both bonus tracks) return the album to its beginning with more jangly, rapping, reggae-inspired rock.
If I have one criticism about this album it’s probably that it’s a bit too long. This is the 2007 re-release of the original 1998 album which contains six bonus tracks, taking the album from ten to 16 tracks. That’s quite an increase, and I’m not sure the album benefits from it, to be honest. I wonder if this was Dub War’s original vision for the album, otherwise why would they inject these extra songs into the running order, rather than tagging them along at the end or on an additional bonus disc.
Something I’ve not done is create a separate version of this album using the original 1998 track listening, without the bonus tracks. I wonder if I would think more highly of that experience: something shorter and more focussed.
As it stands though, this is a good album. If a bit long.
Review score: 70%