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Speakers and Tweeters

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Album Review

A new Dub Pistols album is always a cause for celebration, and Speakers and Tweeters, the duo's third, is no exception. A tighter and more directed set than Six Million Ways to Live, it's also a bit less adventurous, as the Pistols rein in their more fanciful musical experimentation in favor of focusing on the vocals. This is particularly notable on the entertaining but virtually superfluous cover of the Specials "Gangsters." They so perfectly conjure up the original, even bringing in Terry Hall to recut his own vocals, that one has to work hard to spot the difference. And Hall pops up all over this set, appearing on three more tracks, initially joining the leering lads on the "phew what a scorcher" take of the Stranglers' "Peaches," and kudos to Rodney P. for keeping his rap slack free and simultaneously wildly suggestive. The Pistols' house DJ, TK Lawrence strongly steps up for the classic roots reggae flavored "Running from the Thoughts," with Hall again providing backing for a song awash in smoky brass and a compulsive rhythm that's top-notch. "Rapture" is inspired, taking Blondie's disco hit into deep house territory, fueled by a four on the floor beat and splashes of brass, while Hall moodily intones the lyrics overhead, and Lawrence adds snippets of rap in between. Rodney P returns for a roots reggae version of Lou Rawls' "You'll Never Find," with the rapper mashing up the song around sweetly crooning vocal samples from John Holt, and for "Something to Trust," a tough, old-school styled West Coast rap, the aggressive backing is filled with menace. "Cruise Control" is old-school in a very different mode, evoking Afrika Bambaataa; its jittery mood and nervous energy reach a climax on the title track. Lawrence, who raps on both, however, shines brightest on the deep roots dub of "Stronger" and the smoldering hybrid "Mach 10." The latter blends rap with reggae's evocative Far East style and boasts a sly use of the riff from Horace Andy's "Skylarking." The album is bookended by two calmer pieces, with Blade launching us towards a faraway galaxy on the Moby-ish, ambient-rinsed "Speed of Light." Plenty of diversity then, and just enough musical crossover to keep most fans satisfied, but it's all far more subtle than on their previous sets, with the Pistols less interested in clashing music than using different vocal styles as their foil. In that respect, they offer more while simultaneously giving less. In any event, this is a stunning set, with lots of lyrical meat to chew on, and music to give one chills.

Biography

Formed: 1996 in London, England

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The ascendancy of big-beat techno with punk rock attitude continued unabated with the Dub Pistols, a lager-swilling quintet headed by ex-club promoter Barry Ashworth and featuring guitarist John King, bassist Jason O'Bryan, programmer Bill Borez, and turntablist Malcolm Wax. Ashworth, who had been turned on to the vibes of Ibiza house in the mid-'80s, began promoting clubs in Britain later in the decade. He went aboveground by 1989 with Deja Vu, a much-loved club night for Madchester bands like Happy...
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Speakers and Tweeters, Dub Pistols
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