Review of 'Snapshot: Dubs & Subs' by Bronsky at Rude Boy Train - 21/3/15

(translated by Amy Edmunds)

A bit of background:
You will no doubt remember Ed Rome, once singer with the English ska band The Big, who last year gave us an excellent, 100% home-made ’Snapshot’, where he played the vast majority of the instruments (bar only the brass), with excellent songs veering between early reggae, ska, rocksteady, the occasional foray into soul, in short a bit of everything we love here at RBT.

We let you know several weeks ago about an album of reinterpreted versions featuring loads of top notch guests. Well, the goods just arrived this March and so we’re bringing you a thorough account hot off the press of the very commendable ’Snapshot, Dubs & Subs’.

The Disk:
’Snapshot’ was a hell of a good album, and sticking to the very Jamaican tradition of doing a dubs & subs album was an exceptional challenge that very few artists on the contemporary ska scene have previously tried.

But right from the start with ’Tidy Up Version’, you can tell that it’s all going to be okay... this lightly dubbed version of ’Mess’ is elevated by a razor-sharp Dennis Al Capone, much more on-form than on his ’minimalist’ contribution to the latest Dualers album. And hot on its heels, ’Don’t Believe The Hype’, sees Freddie Notes and his blazing voice prove themselves up to the task of taking on one of the best tracks of the original record..

And this is precisely Ed Rome’s smart idea behind the album, to offer up the choice morsels to his guests... Rhoda Dakar’s ’Feeling Undone’ is sublime: her voice coiling around Bella Edmunds’ original, and given the subtlest of lifts by an inspired melodica line, which as it happens also takes centre stage on the following dub. Dr. Ring Ding, doing great things as ever, comes in wielding his trombone to lift the dynamic on the former ’Curtain Call’, already ramped up to become ’Final Bow’, while jazz trumpeter Andy Casterton takes ’El Gringo’ decisively into ’Tighten Up’, for which the tone had already been set by ’The Regulars’. Bella Edmunds’ delicate voice returns to transform the ska instrumental ’El Honcho’ into a finessed ’The Don’.

Ed Rome hits the nail on the head when he takes, just for once, the limelight on the alternative version of ’You’re the only one in pain’, where his dulcet tones sit perfectly with this little Rocksteady gem. Neville Staple steps in on the luminous ’Partners in Crime’, where the Hammond organ takes the place of the brass on the track that inspired it, and soul singer Clair Witcher gets into the groove on a very funky ’Allnighter Blues’, which was released as a first single. Add to this another pair of very well chosen dubs, namely the all-guitar reggae track ’Acceptance’ and the ska track ’Mother’s Ruin’, and the verdict is clear: this is top-rate work, and a massive challenge has been executed with flying colours.

On ’Snapshot, Dubs & Subs’, our guy manages to take his original songs to another level, all the while reminding us that the base material was already extremely good, and leaves us compelled to keep coming back for just one more listen (make that several). With these two un-missable and therefore inseparable albums, that fly has disappeared from the cocktail: Ed Rome is absolutely one to watch.