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Nex Music

Stubborn All-Stars

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Album Review

It's no secret that the finest traditional ska made in the 1990s came from Stubborn Records' Version City studio in New York, where the Stubborn All-Stars, Radiation Kings, Rocker-T, and Victor Rice all worked on a regular basis. The Stubborn All-Stars have that vintage sound down pat — massed horns honking out the backbeats, drummer Headie Ocampo whanging out the accents, Rice anchoring the groove with his subtle but melodically perfect basslines — and Version City provides the perfect ambience for their old-school approach. Nex Music isn't quite as strong as Back with a New Batch, the previous SAS effort, but there are plenty of great tunes here, including the easy-skanking "Saturday Night," the gentle love song "Not Like a Star" (repeated dubwise at the end of the program), and the instrumentals "True Mental" and "Buccaneer Bay." Rocker-T makes a typically inspired appearance on "The Road Song," as does Venice Shoreline Chris on "Saturday Night." Keyboardist Vic Ruggiero steps up to sing his own "I'll Never Go Back Home," a typically elegant composition sung in his usual thuggish style. It's not completely clear why King Django feels the need to sing in French ("Coeur Blesse") and Spanish ("No Hay Luz"), but he does both very well. Overall, this is a solid album from one of America's best ska bands to date.

Nex Music, Stubborn All-Stars
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