Speakers And Tweeters,
Barry Ashworth and Jason O´Bryan have been exploring the depths of dub, hip-hop, funk, ska and electro under the moniker Dub Pistols since the mid nineties. Their highly anticipated third album, released on Rob da Bank´s Sunday Best label, continues the boys adventures in sound and sees them gaining some heavyweight collaborators along the way. The all important vocal duties on this long player are shared by the Pistol´s resident ryhmesmith, T.K. Lawrence, UK hip-hop legend Rodney P, Mark B´s former partner in rhyme, Blade and former Specials (lets not forget Fun Boy Three) frontman, Terry Hall. You may have already heard the Hall/Pistols combination on lead single, 'Rapture', a deep tech-house reworking of the Blondie classic which is rescued from obscurity by Hall´s understated magnetism. Terry Hall´s presence dominates this album, guesting on no less than four tracks. He shares lead responsibilities on the two other covers, the laddish lyrical update of The Stranglers ode to summer beauty, 'Peaches', and the rather pointless 2-tone photocopy of'Gangsters'by The Specials, sadly both versions lack any of the character or energy of the original recordings. However on 'Running From The Thoughts' we get to hear the real benefit of the pairing of old skool(Hall) with nu-skool(DP), a bouncy, horn driven slice of sunny dub-hop. T.K Lawrence rides the slick skank with his busy flow while the Specials legend adds his own brand of style and wisdom.
More examples of the Pistols at their best when they are driven by a strong vocal can be found on the other two Rodney P tracks, the soundsystem skank dub of 'You´ll Never Find', and the early west coast hip-hop beats of 'Something To Trust', prove that DP are able producers in either genre, but the elusive Blade fails to inspire with his intergalactic ramblings on opening track, 'Speed Of Light'. Canadian born rapper T.K. Lawrence spits his smoky flow over a futuristic bubble of bouncy electro dub funk on title track 'Speakers and Tweeters', whereas 'Cruise Control' is a less adventurous Lawrence, nursery rhyming over a Bambaata styled 909 electrified break The Young Canadian also seems uncomfortably out of place on the hen-night disco boogie of 'Open' but his status as resident MC of the DP is however happily reinforced with his wordy musings on the bouncy hip-hop of Mach 10 and the rootical dub of 'Stronger'. Closing track 'Gave You Time' is Blue Lines era trip-hop and is perhaps one track too many for TK.
This is a much more accessible and coherent album than 2001´s Six Million Ways To Live and benefits hugely from the inclusion of Terry Hall and Rodney P and will definitely see their fanbase expand, but, for me, what promised to be an exploration into the outer regions of dub/hip-hop/electro turns out to be more of a guided tour through the safe, populous and well trodden districts of dance music.