Sly and Robbie: The Dub Revolutionaries: Sly & Robbie Meet The Mad Professor Featuring Dean Fraser

There is only one thing keeping this from being an excellent dub album. It's not Mad Professor's production, which is full and thick and has none of the eardrum-shattering high end that is so often found on even the best dub records. It's not Sly's drumming, because this is some of his finest work in the past 30 years, and the decision to favor drums over drum machines was a wise one. It's not Robbie's bass, which is the epitome of sexy.

No, the only thing that drags down The Dub Revolutionaries is Dean Fraser's awful sax playing.

Now, that's not entirely fair. When Fraser plays as part of the band, like he does on "Finger on the Pulse," his decades of experience in the world of reggae shine like the sun. But as soon as his sax moves into the forefront, his lite-jazz noodling kills almost every bit of soul. (Almost. There is too much soul here for one man to kill it all.) The two songs he wrote, "Dean's Version" and "Dean's Mood," could be titled "David Sanborn's lame Version" and "Kenny G's even lamer Mood, if that's at all possible."

Music: 3 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
Why is it that mediocre musicians always want the solos? There's no bass solo on here, and Robbie Shakespeare has more spirit in two fingers than Dean Fraser has in his whole body. As producer, Mad Professor should've recognized the problem, but he didn't. Fortunately, most of the album is devoid of Fraser's wanking. And when the musicians (including Fraser) come together under Mad Professor's watchful ear, they bond like the blood the flows through our bodies.

Packaging: 3.5 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
The design is generic and the text is difficult to read, but the three pages of interviews and history are great. Without that, the package probably would have gotten a 2.

Listen if you like: Lee Scratch Perry, King Tubby, Massive Attack's No Protection

If it were food, it'd be: Fried plantains that are partially covered by the aspartame-laden glory of sugar free cherry Jell-O.

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