Various Artists

Wild Dub: Dread Meets Punk Rocker

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While punk rock came about ultimately as an intertwining of influences on both sides of the Atlantic, some of its deepest roots are in the multiracial inner cities of London, Brixton, and Birmingham, where disaffected British youth mingled with expatriate Jamaicans and were surrounded by reggae and its mystical, experimental corollary, dub. Bands like the Clash, Public Image Ltd., and the Slits incorporated reggae elements very explicitly into their music, while others, such as the Pop Group and Killing Joke, drew on reggae and dub influences in somewhat more subtle ways. This uneven but ultimately rewarding collection offers some of the most exciting moments of punk-reggae fusion, as well as one or two of its most silly and ill-advised. The title track is an amateurish remix of Generation X's "Wild Youth," which sounds like it was engineered by someone who had listened to a couple of King Tubby albums and figured that anyone could do it. And Public Image Ltd.'s "Death Disco," while undeniably influenced by reggae and dub, was unlistenable then and remains so 25 years later. But other tracks, such as the Clash's "Bankrobber Dub" and the Ruts' aggressive "Jah War," border on the revelatory. There are also some very interesting curiosities, such as "One of the Lads" by an obscure band called 4 Be 2, a song that consists entirely of someone playing "Drowsy Maggie" over and over again on a plectrum banjo for seven minutes with aggressive reggae-rock accompaniment. The most adventurous dub excursion comes courtesy of the Slits, whose "Typical Girls (Brink Style Dub)" is deconstructed to an extent unusual even for the often anarchic dub tradition. This is a long and generous program, so even the occasional clunker is easily forgivable. Recommended.

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