Words by Howard Male
Those familiar with the heavily Ethiopian-influenced band heard on the last three Dub Colossus albums will hardly recognise this new incarnation. The dub vibe is still present but Jamaica has now become the primary outside influence. The album opens with some twisted dancehall in the shape of ‘Boom Ka Boom (and the Dub Disciples)’ before veering off in a variety of fruitful directions. Each track adds new colours to the Colossus palette, with a smattering of guest contributors including Natacha Atlas, Justin Adams and the Horns of Negus. The Specials were clearly an influence on quirkily atmospheric highlights such as ‘The Casino Burning Down’ and ‘Madmen’, the latter featuring a suitably droll Terry Hall-like vocal from founding member Nick Dubulah. The new star of the show is Jamaican vocalist PJ Higgins who, as it happens, is also the focus of a new Jah Wobble album (reviewed opposite).
One misses the Ethiopian elements, but a band’s gotta do what a band’s gotta do, and that can mean moving on to pastures new. The bottom line is that the songs are stronger than ever and the arrangements still deftly balance widescreen grandeur with bass-heavy street cred.