Ruts D.C.

Rhythm Collision, Vol. 1

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Given the Ruts' love for and incorporation of reggae into their most strident punk material, it shouldn't have come as much surprise that they would eventually jump headlong into dub. Dedicated to Malcolm Owen, the band's lead singer who passed away two years prior, Rhythm Collision pairs the remaining Ruts in a sound clash with the then-upstart Mad Professor. The liner notes claim that no one was successful at the fusion of punk and dub until this record came out, which is a false proclamation. Three years prior to this release, PiL's Metal Box, the Slits' Cut, and the Pop Group's Y were each released, all of which -- among other earlier releases -- were rooted in dub. Unlike the other post-punk bands who were influenced by dub and mutated it into something of their own, Rhythm Collision sticks closer to the origin sound, rarely coming off like anything other than a late '70s Trojan recording act. Buried piano motifs, melodica bleats, random percussive effects, head-spinning production techniques, and those deep, deep, deep basslines load the bases. Aside from sporadic vocal phrasings, it's all instrumental. Most everything unwinds at a relaxed pace, save for "Push Yourself," which would fit comfortably in a DJ set between Liquid Liquid and Grandmaster Flash. The most uncharacteristic track of the record, its handclaps, funky bassline, and Chic-like guitar flicks are capable of making the most dedicated Ruts fan forget who is playing. As far as an homage to a style that's provided inspiration, Rhythm Collision couldn't have done much better. Thankfully, a couple labels -- most notably ROIR -- have kept this still-exciting record in print throughout the years.

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