|THE LOW DOWN:
When Malcolm Owen he joined his mates of the disbanding pub rock gang Hit & Run in 1977 to form The Ruts, their obvious sound outfit was nasty, pub rock-ish punk. But the current Jamaican sound called reggae was also buried deep in the group's DNA. It was soon to fully unfold when
UK reggae band Misty in Roots discovered the angry talent of The Ruts and encouraged them to produce their first single on
their own label People Unite. "In a Rut" sold an astonishing 20,000 copies. It was followed by a John Peel Session and a
deal with Virgin Records that left the band in debt for ages. But it also lead to a seminal album,"The Crack", and a
bunch of classic singles such as "Staring at the rudeboys", "Jah War" and the much covered "Babylon's Burning" that the
remaining members of the Band just re-recorded with the fittingly casted Henry Rollins on vocals. This heavy rock anthem
with embedded rasta philosophy mirrors the Bad Brains' efforts to melt the energies of reggae and rock, meanwhile in DC.
But in 1980 The Ruts themselves were forced to to turn DC when Owen died of a heroin overdose - DC in this case standing
for "Da Capo", a restart.
Sadly enough, this second phase of the band keeps being underrated by rock history. However, for those who know, an album called "Rhythm Collision Vol. 1" became a major object of worship. This dub set was cut in 1982 in the brand new Ariwa studio, set up and run by a certain Neal Fraser, better known as the Mad Professor.
On this day in '82, reggae und punkrock, with a little help of funk, came together in a ying & yang harmony you rarely ever heard. The basic mood is of a melancolic tranquillity, a floating dubspace without too many crazy but still highly effective effects. If dub can be described as the art of impression by subtraction, this classic example gave an idea of where dub as a recording technique can potentially go - and where it subsequently went.
Despite its nearly obscure status, the album has not done too bad over the years! It stayed underground but there it became massively viral, selling 100,000 copies of its various incarnations on the band's own label Bohemian, punky reggae US imprint ROIR, Danceteria, and - in the CD age - Echo Beach. The second generation went to work, when Zion Train first re-versioned "Babylon's Burning" and finally the whole set, which was also released on Echo Beach. So here it is in it's third incarnation: deconstructed, reconstructed, tuned, pimped and dubbed out by today's disciples of bass. Even though the postmodern world offers zillions of ways to recontextualize archive material, they all left the sacred tracks relatively intact, ignoring the easy way but instead following, as African Headcharge might have put it, the path of respect. Dreadzone, the dub-breaking project of Greg Dread (former member of Big Audio Dynamite and Screaming Target, along with punky Dread legend Don Letts), takes trance-inducing turns on "Love & Fire" and "Accusation", while Bristol producer Rob Smith - famous for his work in Smith & Mighty and More Rockers - makes some serious moves both dub- and vocalwise on "Whatever We Do" and "Weakheart". Cologne is represented by disco dubber crew Salz, while the remaining members of Ruts DC joined forces with Steve Dub (Chemical Brother´s programmer) for a rehash of their own " tunes "Accusation" and "Militant" . The same song was treated by Boz Boorer (who may be best known for being the guitarist for Morrisey,) with a little help by Stevie Wonder…, and Go Home Production aka Mark Viddler choosed "Love & Fire" for a reloaded version…!
Two years after the sad demise of Ruts DC member Paul Fox, this selection shows that more than 25 years after its creation the Ruts DC's heritage is still very much alive and kicking, just like the major rocksteady and reggae riddims that kept being used und re-used for decades.
Label: ECHO BEACH
Title: Ruts DC - Rhythm Collision RE>>LOADED
Catalogue: Echo Beach (EB077 )
Release date: Oktober 2009
(13 tracks - 68 minutes playtime)
FILE UNDER: Dub
1. Weak Heart (RSD aka Rob Smith Remix) 5:21
2. Whatever We Do (RSD aka Rob Smith Remix) 4:20
3. Whatever We Do (Salz Remix) 6:51
4. Militant (Ruts DC & Steve Dub Remix) 4:06
5. Accusation (Dreadzone Remix) 5:32
6. Accusation (Ruts DC & Steve Dub Remix) 4:42
7. Accusation vs. Rhythm Collision (Salz Remix) 7:01
8. Love & Fire (Dreadzone Remix) 6:25
9. Love & Fire (Go Home Production Remix) 4:16
10. Rhythm Collision (RSD - aka Rob Smith Remix) 5:31
11. Millitant (Boz Boorer Remix) 3:40
Whatever We Dub (RSD aka Rob Smith Remix) 4:14
Weak Heart Dub (RSD aka Rob Smith Remix) 6:07