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RC Dub | Strategy

Album review by John Powell

RC Dub| Strategy

If you think Lincoln, Nebraska is not an appropriate place to indulge in roots reggae music, you’re missing RC Dub, the five-piece outfit behind Strategy. The album is a blend of dub and rock steady, busting into ska for the last track. The album has an organic feel, not feeling overproduced, and is filled out by classic usage of keys and horns.

Almost as a motto, the opener, “Step Into Action”, is heavy glockenspiel and bass played with gusto by Emily “Goldie” Madison, (called so because of her long gold dreadlocks!). How great is it to have a female bass player? Plus, she sings harmony and backing vocals, (the whole band does), creating a variety of voices. “Rich man always rule/poor man always slave,” it goes. “’Till the day we die/for no reason why.” It sounds like a downer, but the groove is upbeat and the chorus, “Step Into Action,” is a rouser.

RC Dub jumps right into old school with “Traveler’s Dub”, with Dave Hansen’s guitar ethereally riding over Loren’s trombone and Calen Olivetti’s trumpet. Steven Schwartz’s drum pattern makes the tune sound like it’s out of a 70’s spy flick. So, it’s not too synth’d or dubbed out soundboard-wise. It’s all organic but rides a sonic-play wave.

“Kali Dub” has a much more surfer-vibe, glimmery and shimmery. The bass, drums, and percussion really jive nicely. “One time/we have a smoke/and rewind/we paid a price for a thought crime.” The melody is windy and snakes through the killer horn lines.

A key track is “Show Some Love”, a start-stop bounce with quick lyrics, (admittedly the toughest to pick out- the bass is too loud). “Why won’t the people show some love?” It’s one of the instrumentally heavier tracks.

“Building Up Zion”, at nearly seven minutes, is also excellent. It’s a slow-paced groove with prettier lyrics like, “So tell me, future people/can you see tomorrow?” The reason the song is so long is that it falls into a trippy, stomping ska bridge and then blooms back into the slow groove, sounding slower after the speedy pick-me-up.

The best part about RC Dub is that they’re tight. The horn players leap between their brass and percussion. They all sing back up. Calin, on lead vocals, has a semi-deep voice that doesn’t try too hard, in a good way. It fits the dubby band’s sound.

Strategy comes out of nowhere. Literally. Where is Lincoln, Nebraska? But apparently it’s on the map and has great representatives in RC Dub, whose LP is great for any fan of roots reggae. Strategy sounds neither rehashed or too new. It’s right on track.

Bottom line: A solid roots reggae album, complete with dubs, ska, horns, and conscious lyrics.


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