Ruts DC: Rhythm Collision Vol 2 – album review
Ruts DC – Rhythm Collision Vol 2
CD / DL /LP
Released May 13th 2013
The UK’s answer to Sly & Robbie and guests release a fine album of rootsy punky reggae & dub. Ged Babey reviews in a rub-a-dub stylee.
One of my favourite compilation albums, and one I can never find as it’s always in my wifes’ car, is Wild Dub – Dread Meets Punk Rocker Uptown. Compiled by Don Letts its features almost all of the punk bands influenced by reggae and dub from the Clash and Slits to SLF and Red Beat it’s an essential collection. It opens with Jah War by the Ruts, a remastered 12inch version. Probably one of the most perfect records ever made.
Louder Than War have covered Ruts DC’s progress over the last year extensively but in case you haven’t seen the reviews and interviews, here’s the story so far (taken from the press release and album sleeve notes by Roland Link drawing on interviews from a forthcoming book Love In Vain- the story of the Ruts and Ruts DC).
“The last thing on our minds was to reactivate Ruts DC. It just sort of happened.” recalls Segs. “We went to see Neil Fraser aka Mad Professor who we’d worked with on ‘R.C Vol 1’. We hadn’t seen him for a while, but when we started talking about the original record, Neil said, ‘Yeah, we should do another session sometime, how about next Tuesday?’ It was as simple as that. We had some lyrics and a couple of ideas, so we agreed to do it and basically plugged in and played.”
“We adopted very much the same approach as we had at the ‘Rhythm Collision Vol. 1’ sessions,” continues Ruffy. “By the end of it we had the basics of fourteen tracks; very vibey, groovy stuff.”
“The album really came together by a series of fortunate events, before we knew it we were back in the studio for The Great Day of Vocals – Segs , Ngoni (aka Delbert McKay, Misty’s guitarist / vocalist), gifted lyricist Aynzli Jones, Brixton lyrics man Tenor Fly and Rob Love, frontman with Alabama 3 all turned up, tuned in and came up with the goods. Nothing was pre-conceived or planned.”
Although the original idea had been to mix the tracks with Mad Professor, things didn’t work out; again hectic schedules got in the way. They were introduced to Brighton producer Prince Fatty aka Mark Pelanconi. Happy with the setup, the band pushed on. After one final mix from Fatty, some edits and two bonus mixes from Greg Wizard back at Brixton the project, simply called ‘Rhythm Collision Vol.2’ , was finally finished. From (unplanned) conception to completion, it’s fair to say that the record has emerged out of numerous collaborations with many talented people, organist Seamus Beaghen, singer/dancer Molara and guitarist Leigh Heggarty and always with the formidable rhythm section of Dave Ruffy and Segs at its heart; both are justifiably proud of the finished product. .
(And this is me again)
Proud they should be as this is simply a great contemporary reggae/dub album. A classic! . A brilliant, beautifully produced, nicely packaged, perfect album. Twelve tracks, a running time of 50 minutes 13 seconds. Cool songs, even cooler dub versions… It’s a close relation to early Zion Train and Dreadzone albums, with a bit of Morcheeba and Massive Attack thrown in. The fact that everything touched by the hand of Prince Fatty turns to reggae gold is proven; the man is a total hero.
There’s such a wealth of talent involved apart from Prince Fatty, Rob Love from Alabama 3, Delbert McKay from Misty In Roots, Molera formerly from Zion Train…and an obvious barrel-load of love and respect in the grooves for Segs and Ruffy. It’s their album only in the way that they host the party, provide the solid foundations and the guests and collaborators make it a real event.
My favourite track has to be London Dub as it incorporates the intro speech from the Live At the Counter-Eurovision set by Misty. Y’know it; “When we trod this land… a Cabbage in Our So-ci-ety” one. And some beautiful slide guitar.
Then there is Smiling Culture; the story of the death of Smiley Culture, (a song about the police in the tradition of the Upstarts Who Killed Liddle and the Partisans James Kelly…) A Linton Kwesi Johnson type narration in the style of a police court testimony, only painted with a heavy, heavy irony. “ I can confirm Your Honour that the suspect did fall down the stairs of his own volition, whilst under my supervision … “
When they play it live its mixed in with a re-working of the Ruts SUS. The recorded version has a Ghost Town type refrain using Smileys “Police Officer don’t give me producer”. It is beautiful musically but a monumentally sad song.
Mix-Up and Mighty Soldier are vibrant and full of positivity though and More Bass and Heavyweight Style are self-explanatory spacey dub work-outs
This is a thoroughly modern 2013 digital dub album of reggae-based dance-music but wholly in keeping with the spirit of the Ruts and Ruts DC. Inadvertantly Segs and Ruffy have made one of the best albums of the year.
Ruts DC play the following dates:
25th Southampton – The Brook
26th Butlins, Minehead – Great British Alternative Festival Weekender
10th London – The Underworld
17th Cardiff – The Globe
18th Derbyshire – Bearded Theory Festival
25th Penzance, Cornwall – 3 Chord Festival
6th Preston – 53 Degrees
7th Newcastle – North East Calling Festival
More writing by Ged Babey can be found here