David Rudder

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After the lackluster International Chantuelle, David Rudder bounced back with a very energetic 2000 CD. Anthony Simeon's drums really drive the music hard here, especially under the flashing horns of "The Ground Troop," and new touches include a Latin keyboard hook for "Wining in de Carnival" and an Archie Bell-cum-Spinners rhythm guitar lick for the sweetly seductive "Trini Girls." But Rudder is a brilliant songwriter because he's so good at balancing words and music -- "Smiling Eyes of Steel" is a heartfelt eulogy of a deceased cricket player over gospel keyboard chords that doesn't wear out its welcome. The exceptional "The Brand New Lucky Diamond Horseshoe Club" reads like a short story of wrong-side-of-the-tracks Trinidad club characters converted to song, and the cleverly pointed metaphor of "Ground Troops" likens a NATO military incursion to a dancefloor rush. "It Doesn't Get Too Much Better Than This" lives up to its title if you're looking for a killer chorus hook and pure life celebration. So what to make of two versions of "Shake Down Time," the second called "What the World Needs Is a Damn Good Shakedown"? That usually spells padding, but not with Rudder -- the different arrangements reflect the double meaning of the title and "When the rhythm of the world comes down on you/You know it's shake down time" lyric hook. The first salutes the liberating effect of the dancefloor nation, but the second sounds darker and more ominous -- the menacing point of view of the forces of control arriving to suppress a threat. Same song, same lyrics, but a sentiment turned around 180 degrees simply because the music changed. That's talent for sure and maybe genius -- there are very few artists worth checking out every time and David Rudder is definitely one of them.

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