John Brown’s Body: ‘Kings and Queens in Dub’ Album Review

Easy Star Records
Easy Star Records

There is plenty to admire about US reggae roots outfit John Brown’s Body. Unwavering perseverance, exceptional musicianship, unquestioned street cred, and an adventurous and enterprising spirit are just a few of the elements that have endeared the band to reggae fans all over the world. And then there is the live show – a potent, spirited, skank-heavy celebration of life, love and livity unlike any other reggae show on the planet. While many contemporary reggae acts are selling out their sound to appeal to the lowest common denominator, it is John Brown’s Body’s unabashed commitment to the fundamental sound of roots and culture that makes them one of the most respected acts around.

With Kings and Queens in Dub, John Brown’s Body continues down the path least chosen, taking yet another risk at a time when their contemporaries are grasping at the folksy, futile fashion of “Cali roots.” It is this dogged determination to stay the course that has served bands like JBB, Midnite, and Groundation so well over the past two decades. However, possessing the willingness and wherewithal to forego fashion is one thing. Possessing the talent to turn that choice into success time and time again is quite another.

Kings and Queens in Dub is the long-awaited follow-up and dub companion to the band’s critically-acclaimed 2013 effort titled Kings and Queens. The album features the entire sequence from Kings And Queens mixed by some of the best dubmixologists in the world including Ticklah, Dubmatix, Dubfader (of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant), the legendary Dennis Bovell, Yesking, Goldwasser, Lord Echo (of The Black Seeds), and more. JBB is unique when compared to other contemporary roots reggae acts in that dub is an essential element of the band’s sound. In fact, dub is an integral component of the culture within the Easy Star camp. The label was founded by lifelong students of dub culture and it is the defining genre and foundation upon which everything was built.

This dub album is a monster – a relentless head-knocking musical ass-kicking from start to finish. From the blazing horns of Dubfader’s People In The Light Dub (an opener for the ages) to the brutal percussion of Double Tiger’s Give Up The Ghost Dub to the futuristic trip-dub of Ticklah’s “Land of Plenty Dub,” Kings and Queens in Dub is an exceptionally well-produced, multi-layered, nuanced modern dub album featuring the contrasting yet cohesive styles of some of the most inventive and influential producers the world has to offer. It is by far the best dub album ever released by Easy Star, a bold statement when one considers just how influential the label has been in the dub genre over the past decade.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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