Dub Spencer and Trance Hill – Live In Dub & The Victor Rice Remixes: album review

Dub Spencer and Trance Hill – Live In Dub & The Victor Rice Remixes  (Echo Beach)

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Dub Spencer and Trance Hill are blasting new life into Clash Classics – it’s monster dub straight from Switzerland. Joe Whyte listens for Louder Than War and you can tell he’s impressed.

You know those weird coincidences that just make the world spin the right way? Well, a month or so ago, I was looking to check the price of something or other on Amazon. I don’t shop there that much, just the odd thing.

Anyway, the top of the webpage was giving the usual “recommendations” based on items I had purchased before. Given that it was mostly Xmas presents I’d bought, the new Michael Buble album and kids DVDs weren’t really on my radar.

Oddly, catching my eye was a record sleeve in the same livery as Give Em Enough Rope.

Amazon. You have my attention.

The album was from 2007, a Swiss collective called Dub Spencer And Trance Hill and the album with the “Rope”-style cover was The Clashification Of Dub.

It was a new name to me and my level of intrigue jumped exponentially.

Swiftly pressing the “buy” button, I eagerly awaited its arrival and I wasn’t disappointed.

A played-live (rather than cut-ups or computer trickery) dubbed-up run through of some fairly unlikely Clash songs, it took the old classics and blasted new life into them.

The version of London Calling, which starts at dub-pace before picking up about three minutes in, has to be heard to be believed. Simply astounding, and I’m a huge Clash fan that didn’t believe that these songs could be bettered. Believe me, this is astonishing.

Some of the songs are so stripped back and twisted that you’ll take a few listens (or a look at the track listing) to guess their origin, but are deliciously warped versions of, as mentioned, some of the more unlikely songs.

 

The trip through This Is England is typical; a phrase or two from the song ripped through a gigantic, echo-laden monster. Similarly, Rock the Casbah is taken in a direction you’d scarcely believe. Chilled-out, tripped out, call it what you will; it’s simply irresistible.

This new album, Live In Dub, contains (unsurprisingly) some of the aforementioned Clash rewires as well as remixes of other covers and originals. Again, the sleeve is a Clash mock-up, this time London Calling and the artwork is once more tastefully done.

Opening salvo Rasta Pasta and A Fistful Of Dub set the tone straight off. Tight, angular playing, utterly weird sound effects and serpentine, thunderous bass lead the listener into the decidedly strange world of Trance Hill And Dub Spencer.

Reggae legend Ken Boothe guests on When I Fall In Love which is a real highlight, swiftly followed by a dub version of the song.

Armigedeon Time is given the live dub treatment which is a sinuous freak out with a late-night feel. A completely unrecognisable Smoke On The Water is similarly chewed up and spat out and leaves Deep Purple in the dust.

As live albums go, I’m usually rather non-plussed by them. This, however, has the feel of a “live-in-the-studio” set rather than a gig per se.

I’m in the process of investigating their back catalogue which is a real pleasure.

If you’re a fan of the Clash, reggae, dub or the just plain out-there, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Dub Spencer and Trance Hill can be found at their website, Facebook, MySpace and SoundCloud.

All words by Joe Whyte. More work by Joe Whyte on Louder Than War can be found here.

 

 

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  1. Joe is spot on. These two albums are great – and recent discoveries for me too. Their “Riding Strange Horses” album is also well worth buying.

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