Review of The Good, The Bad And The Dread Album by Dreadzone

Formed out of the ashes of Mick Jones post-Clash outfit Big Audio Dynamite, Dreadzone didn't exactly rule the charts during the middle of the 90's, but with their use of reggae, dub, techno and rock they certainly provided an alternative to excesses of Brit Pop. None of this adequately explains particularly why we should be treated to a retrospective, but in mitigation the political countenance to their music serves to rightly bring back reminiscences of the last time pop music was in any way a tool of mass protest.

Dreadzone The Good, The Bad And The Dread Album

Neither have they completely disappeared - last year's "Eye On The Horizon" album was their eighth after a couple of mid-noughties hiatuses - but tellingly examples of their more recent output play much less of a part here than those from jah good old days. On the face of it this is the right decision, as for example newbie Gangster attempts a transition into more contemporary funky r & b territory, but sadly ends up sounding like it's trying far too hard.

Let's quit this century then and jump in the wayback machine. Few if any punters will relate to the Dreadzone name with anything other than fondness for Little Britain, their sample heavy and relentlessly upbeat breakthrough single released in 1995. It marked something of a purple patch for the collective, one underlined by the inherent quality of its companions Zion Youth and Life, Love & Unity, both indebted in their excellence to the vintage Caribbean sound best explained in Lloyd Bradley's superb book Bass Culture.

All of this is worth remembering, but by the time the follow up album Biological Radio was released a couple of years later the fields of Castle Morton - angrily brought to mind here by awkward, Prodigy-by-numbers Fight The Power - were distant memories. There are a few other signs of life, but there's still little argument that Dreadzone will continue to be of interest to the connoisseur only.

Andy Peterson

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