Dub Syndicate No Bed Of Roses

Style Scott's connections have assembled the greatest cast yet for a Dub Syndicate album. Now well past its 20th year, the band long ago shed its doppelganger status to definitive dancehall purveyors the Roots Radics, but retains its all-star little black book. It is now a band under Scott's control, with the Dub elements even more couched than they were on their last album Acres of Space. One notable exception is the album's standout track "Private I," with its sampled and manipulated sax. Mixmaster Adrian Sherwood's dub tactics, which once upon a time seemed to be redefined on every DS release, are now more subtle. His years of experience create a deep full mix where his craziness is less in evidence. "No Bed of Roses,” the album's title track, finds Congoman Cedric Myton in fine voice after all this time. Dub poet Yasus Afari contributes his typically quirky, borderline humorous delivery to "Jamaican Proverb" and "Hard and Tuff.” Gregory Isaacs sounds less phlegmy than usual on "Kingston 14” and even if it is a little thin lyrically, I’ll never complain about the Cool Ruler singing the word "Lawwwwwwd” over and over again — he’s made a career of it. This is no groundbreaking album, but just when you think you’ve got it figured out, "Adam and Eve Version 2” closes the disc by dropping eight minutes of a thousand delay settings on your ass. Nice. (Lion & Roots)