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The Clashification of Dub

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Album Review

The title of this disc has it exactly backwards: this album represents not the Clash-ification of dub, but rather the dubification of the Clash. Swiss neo-reggae stars Dub Spencer and Trance Hill take 12 classic Clash songs and reinterpret them as dubwise instrumental reggae; it's the kind of project that is liable to either succeed wildly or fall flat on its face. These guys have been doing stuff like this for a while now, and their taste and experience show. The most interesting problem for an album like this one lies in the fact that although the Clash experimented heavily with reggae throughout their career (covering Junior Murvin and Willi Williams while also writing apocalyptic reggae originals like "Guns of Brixton" and "Bankrobber"), most of their music had little or nothing to do with reggae. Dubbing up "Guns of Brixton" and "Police and Thieves" is easy, but what do you do with songs like "Lost in the Supermarket," "Train in Vain," and "London Calling"? The answer, apparently, is that you take them as raw material and have your way with them, and if you know what you're doing, you end up with something that demonstrates respect for the original versions but comes off sounding completely new. That's what happens here with "Lost in the Supermarket" (which emerges as nearly unrecognizable but deeply cool, with its spacy ambience and spaghetti western guitar) and "Train in Vain" (which, against all reason, swings mightily). There is exactly one misstep on this album: "Rock the Casbah"'s tensile energy is completely sapped in this band's languid, one-drop arrangement, and the resulting version comes across as enervated rather than renovated. But everything else is a solid pleasure.

The Clashification of Dub, Dub Spencer
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