Stubborn All-Stars

Back with a New Batch

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This was, hands down, the best ska album of 1997, the greatest from what may be the finest ska band in New York -- and, therefore, probably these entire United States. The title track grooves on a medium-slow ska figure and what sounds like a really obscure reference to Lee Perry ("a hatchet that I bought from Scratch" is Perry's production of "Small Axe"? Besides, we all know where Django took his nom de ska, don't we?). "Tired of Struggling" is old-fashioned sufferer's reggae, complete with a breathtaking dub-and-DJ version featuring the toasting of Jack Ruby Jr. You also get a fine instrumental tribute to the band's publicist, a weird piece of postmodern doo wop and the bouncy "One Glimmer of Hope." The horn lines are brilliant, the sung melodies are hooky, the grooves are bone-deep. If your butt doesn't hurt by the end of this album, check your pulse.

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