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Neville Staple

Return of Judge Roughneck

Review by Gary Hill
Neville Staple is probably best known as part of the reggae band The Specials. This solo album finds him landing mostly in the same kind of territory as that group. The first half are more standard cuts, while the second part of the album features dub remixes. While there isn't a huge amount of variety here, it flows well and never really feels boring. It's a solid release with some real high points sprinkled throughout.
 
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Return of Judge Roughneck

Bouncy reggae is the order of business here. I like the melodies that come over the top. The echoey vocals on this are classic.

Bangarang
A mid-tempo reggae tune, this is no big surprise. It's classic, really.
Down My Street

There is more of a mainstream pop-rock element here. I love the piano soloing mid-track. The horns add a lot, too. This is an effective number that's a nice change of pace.

Lunatics
With some psychedelia in the mix, this is quite a cool cut. There are some keyboards on this that sound a lot like theremin. I love the guitar sound, too. This might be my favorite song here.
Crime Don't Pay

More standard reggae, this might not be a stretch, but it's a lot of fun. Again the horn adds quite a bit to it.

Gang Fever
I dig the rock and roll kind of feeling on this number. It's still reggae, but with a rock accent.
Politician Man
No huge surprises here, this is just a killer bouncy reggae number.
Maga Dog

Here's another cool slab of reggae that I like a lot. It has a bit of a rap in it, but a traditional reggae based one.

Run

I love the jazzy instrumental sections on this. It's a fun number that definitely calls to mind Staple's band. This is one of the highlights of the set.

Be Happy
Bouncy and fun, this isn't a big change. It's just effective. The vocal hook is really catchy. You'll probably find it hard to not sing with the chorus.
Sweet Sensation

The multiple voices on this lend a lot. The horn does a lot, too. This is a slow moving piece that's quite effective.

Enjoy Yourself - Ragtime Lounge Mix feat. Jessy Greene

The description of this song pretty much nails it. The vocal arrangement is cool. I like the piano and other instrumentation on this. It's a nice bit of variety and a lot of fun.

Dub Specials
               

Maga Dub

An alternate version of the earlier cut, this is a cool track in either rendition. The dub elements bring something different to it. It has some really spacey things in this format.

Crime Dub

There is a lot of dance club sound in this arrangement. I have to say that I prefer the original, but this is still pretty cool. I just find the mix a bit distracting at times.

Roadblock (Slam Door Dub Mix)

This number, on the other hand works really well. The dub elements bring a bit of a space/psychedelic texture. The echoey nature of this works really well.

Dub Fever

I'm not as crazy about this one. It has a lot of echoey dub stuff and a prominent percussive element. It is just not as effective to my ears.

Jah Baddis Dubplate

This has more of a firm reggae basis to it. It works much better because of it.

Dub Street

While this isn't a stand-out, this dub cut works reasonably well. It's echoey and rather trippy.

Bang Bang

Now, this is better. I like the female vocals on it. The whole reggae vibe on it works well. It's a great tune.

Dub Crazy feat. Jessy Greene

A remix of one of the highlights of the set, "Lunatics," this is spacey and trippy and works really well.

Legal Dub

This is a cool dub number. It's not any kind of big change, but it works well.

 
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