Barry Ashworth and his Dub Pistols stand alone in a no-man's land where hip-hop, dub, and dance converge, a magnificent virgin territory still virtually untouched by human hands. The band was last spotted here on Point Blank, but that was three long years ago. In the interim, they've been exploring melodies and synthetic instrumentation, and Six Million Ways to Live packs even more punch and emotional intensity than its predecessor. New hybrids have been germinating as well, notably on the funky "Architect" and the stadium-inflected "Together as One" -- big rock without a guitar lick in earshot. Just as satisfying is "6 A.M."'s smoky, late-night atmosphere, and the title track, which is the closest to acoustic rap anyone dares come. T.K. Lawrence and guest rappers Planet Asia and Sight Beyond Light give word to the Dub Pistols' moody music. Two Tone hero Terry Hall contributes sublime vocals to "Problem Is," a song as fatalistic as his own "Ghost Town," but with the startling creativity of the Fun Boy Three; a tough urban/techno/ska cross that simply simmers. The heavy, rootsy dub of "Crazy" is less of a shock, until Jamaican sensation Horace Andy's vocals come in. The star brings a touch of magic to everything he sings, and this is no exception. However, it's the magnificent "Soldier" that perhaps best defines the group's unique style. The incredibly heavy pounding, percolating rhythms, the throbbing bass, the synths and brass punctuating the beats then soaring into melody, it all packs a wallop, while Planet Asia gives it purpose, with his expostulation on the sound system clash. The album is a stellar achievement; the question is, how can they possibly better this?
Six Million Ways to Live Review
by Jo-Ann Greene