Rating: Dub Pistols must be at least as surprised as anyone else that they’ve just dropped their ninth studio LP, Frontline. After all, they’re a quarter of a century into a career during which they might have imploded at various points – not least of the reasons for which being the once legendary pharmaceutical consumption of frontman Barry Ashworth. Still, here they at a stage in their career when many acts are well past their prime and resting on past glories. Does time find the DPs still actually at the front line or see them on the backfoot? Let’s inspect the set!
1. NICE UP (feat. Freestylers & Horseman)
Dancehall-inflected big beat or big beat-inflected dancehall? Either way, this former single kicks things off promisingly in fine style…
2. NAH GIVE IT UP (feat. Winstone Williams)
…followed by dubby pop-tinged reggae – bit of a left-turn but a sunny festival crowd pleaser no doubt.
3. MOVING ON (feat. Natty Campbell)
Sticking with the reggae but now in a minor key, this third former single Ghost Town-evoking skank is a thing of epic beauty and among the LP’s highlights.
4. THAT’S NO LIE (feat. King Yoof & Demolition Man)
Ok – that’s enough reggae – bit of dnb yeah? Reggae-flavoured dnb though, right? Yeah – the kids love it.
5. SOUNDBOY KILLA (feat. Natty Campbell)
Second appearance of Natty Campbell, another former single and another LP highlight. About as uptempo as big beat gets before slipping into 140bpm jungle. Cue a whole field of people pogoing in time.
6. BETTER HAS COME (feat. Lindy Layton)
Lindy Layton? Beats International Lindy Layton? Dub Be Good To Me Lindy Layton? On a gorgeous slice of sister reggae, vying with Moving On for best track on the LP? Yes! Thank you Dub Pistols. And Lindy.
7. SPITFIRE (feat. Cheshire Cat)
Ok – that’s enough reggae again – bit of dnb again yeah? Reggae-flavoured dnb again though, yeah? Kids still love it, yeah? Was Haile Selassie Emperor of Ethiopia?
8. FRONTLINE (feat. Freestylers & Cheshire Cat)
Cheshire Cat makes an appearance on the second cut to feature Freestylers and we’re in dark, uptempo reggae territory for the title track. Still we shouldn’t be surprised for as Ashworth notes, “Frontline’ is a reference to 1981 in Brixton’s Railton Road where the riots were started against a backdrop of economic depression, racism and a general dislike for the establishment and its economic policy. Causing so much poverty at the time, I feel this is as relevant today with the cost of living crisis, austerity and national strikes everywhere.” Hell yeah B! School ’em.
9. JUMP ON IT (feat. Freestylers & Top Cat)
Let’s not forget the mission to nice up the dance with a bit more dancehall-big beat territory (albeit Apache-powered) and a different feline accompaniment
10. M16 (feat. Ragga Twins)
Now then, who doesn’t like Ragga Twins? And who doesn’t like spaghetti westerns? Imagine both on the same track. With a bit more dnb. That’ll be this.
11. IF YOU EVER GET A DRAW (feat. Myki Tuff)
But still, what Dub Pistols have done best on this, better even than the big beat stuff is the reggae and here’s Myki Tuff on a horns-drenched bubbler.
12. LOVE (feat. Seanie T & Chezidek)
Min you, what better way than to bow out with maximum positivity on a slower, mellower, singalong bit of dancehall-flavoured big beat.
COMMENTS: Any band should be pleased to turn this sort of thing out after twenty-five years and eight previous studio LPs. Manages to sound both fresh and hark back to the very best of classic Dub Pistols material. Festival party hits for days!
BEST TRACKS: Nice Up – Moving On – Sound boy Killa – Better Has Come – Love