Dreadzone: Escapades – album review

Dreadzone ‘Escapades’ (Dubwiser Records)
Available now

Louder Than War review the latest album by the Dreadzone. Scroll down also for the new video by the band.

Hard to believe it has been 20yrs since Dreadzone formed from the ashes of Big Audio Dynamite; Over their two decade career Dreadzone have been called ‘electro-dub pioneers’, they were championed by the late John Peel, have been signed to the legendary Creation Records, to multinational label Virgin who steered them to mainstream commercial success as the iconic ‘Little Britain’ entered the UK Top 20, as well as entering Peel’s Festive Fifty, before securing their independence by founding their own Dubwiser record label.

‘Escapades’ is their 7th studio album, and celebrates the occasion by reuniting both Mick Jones and Don Letts with the genre busting ‘Dreads’ – that said Dreadzone spent much of 2011 as the rhythm engine in the Big Audio Dynamite reunion tour, and as such it should not really come as a surprise that ‘Escapades’ has more of a BAD infused rock n’roll vibe than previous releases.

‘Escapades’ was recorded at Mick Jones’ London studio, Jones also features on both guitar and backing vocals; and the key ingredient to the new single ‘Too Late’ is a sample of the guitar riff from the new wave classic ‘Is Vic There’ by Department S.


But fear not, such influence has not caused any seismic shift in direction; ‘Escapades’ will not disappoint the many committed Dreadzone fans; their instantly recognizable sound remains, at times a seemingly engaging even happy and certainly upbeat festival vibe pervades – opener ‘Next Generation’ is musically lighter than some of their more renowned dub explorations, though this allows the message, a clear warning to our descendant’s to be fully absorbed… ‘Rise Up’ continues in this vein and calls out to activists, to those who’d rather take matters into their own hands than wait for our (un)elected Government to take any form of action; each track pulls upon the styles and genres that have come to define Dreadzone, the cultured blend of reggae, dub, folk, Celtic rhythms and the ever present use of the sampler – itself an art form and one in which Dreadzone throughout their career excelled in, check out the introduction to ‘I Love You Goodbye’ which lifts dialogue from the 1994 Kevin Spacey film ‘Swimming With Sharks’ before carrying you through acres of lush meaty reggae vibes; ‘Fire In The Dark’ evokes eastern mysticism before darker dub tones and electronics fire off at tangents all the while referencing recent world conflicts, which effortlessly leads to ‘Too Late’ with its immediate ‘Is Vic There?’ riff, its instantly recognisable and forms the backbone of this gritty track but at no time does it dominate, Dreadzone were brave to use such a well-known sample, however it’s their ability to absorb, to interpret these influences that has come to define this band.

Myself, I would have preferred a more reggae/dub vibe – less dependence on the electronics, but maybe I am being picky? Twenty years in and Dreadzone are still out their crafting influential music, they remain an vital force, their big bouncy sounds rightly delighting festival goers across the world, and that’s exactly as it should be.

Track Listings:

1. Next Generation
2. Man In A Suit
3. I Love You Goodbye
4. Rise Up
5. On My Way
6. Fire In The Dark
7. Too Late
8. Roosevelt High
9. Places
10. Music Of The Spheres

Dreadzone tour the UK from October to December – Tickets are one sale now.


Thur 10 Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms
Fri 11 Shrewsbury Buttermarket
Sat 12 Hitchin Club 85
Thurs 17 Leeds Brudenell Rooms
Fri 18 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Sat 26 Southend Chinnerys


Thurs 7 Cardiff The Globe
Fri 8 Bristol Fleece
Sat 9 Wellingborough The Castle
Fri 15 Gloucester Guildhall
Sat 16 Tunbridge Wells The Forum
Thu 21 Totnes South Devon Arts Centre
Fri 22 Falmouth Princess Pavilion
Sat 23 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms


Thu 5 Newcastle Warehouse 34
Fri 6 Glasgow Oran Mor
Sat 7 Liverpool 02 Academy
Thu 12 York Fibbers
Fri 13 Kendal Brewery Arts Centre
Sat 14 Manchester Band on The Wall

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.


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