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Stubborn All-Stars
Back With A New Batch (Triple Crown Records Inc./331 West 57th Street #472/New York, NY 10019)

By: Alex Steininger

King Django and a bunch of well respected members of some of the top New York Ska bands (The Insteps, The Slackers, The Pietasters, The Toasters, and Metro Stylee) comprise the Stubborn All-Stars. And on top of that, add special backing vocal appearances by members of Rancid and Dicky Barrett of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and you have one fantastic traditional ska album with roots in reggae and soul.

"Back With A New Batch" kicks it off with the title track. Django's vocals are obviously reggae influenced, adding a rainbow of flavor to the song. The horns are plumb and juicy, arranged to perfection. The guitars are flavorful and infectious, making you pick up your feet and move to the music. Don't stand still, the music won't allow it. The percussion is very Caribbean influenced, adding a sweet backbone to the music. The bass keeps everything moving forward, and everything ties together to form some of the most flawless ska you'll ever hear. "Pick Yourself Up" includes backing vocals by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' Dicky Barrett, as well as Rancid's Tim Armstrong, Lars Frederiksen, and Matt Freeman. Django's vocals are powerful enough to carry the band through any mountain, but with added emphasis courtesy of some of today's top musicians, you know your in for a real treat. The music is hot, hot, hot! The guitar alone gets you dancing, while the keyboard adds an extra step a second to your dance with its strokes of fire. The horns once again come in to fire up the sky. Instead of having five horns playing the same melody line for emphasis, Django brings in his expertise and creates one of the most interesting and tasteful arrangements known in ska today. With his ingenuity and the talent of the whole band to play ska, nothing can ever go wrong. Every note, every punch is played with precision and care. Let's not forget Django's skill for writing lyrics. The hopeful spirit lined in this song lets you know that no matter how many times you've fallen down, you just gotta "pick yourself up" back up off the ground and keep on going for you goal. Take everything that's gone wrong in your life and use it as a positive. That's the kind of spirit you'll find in this song (as well as man others.) "Because of You" is a bouncy ska song that mixes in dashes of pop to get you jumping with joy. The verses are bouncy, getting your body swingin' and your feet skanking, while the chorus hits you like a freight train with a quick pop hook, before diving into some more premium ska that will fill your head with nothing but great thoughts. "I Can't Touch You" is a soft, romantic love song. It's the kind of song that will make you think of the person you love and dream of holding them very close, letting them know all the love you want to give to them. Some might call it very sappy, but I say its pure heart and emotions. Its as if Django lets you into his inner self, letting you know the man behind the man. "Struggling Version" is a reggae-dug-ska version of "Tired of Struggling" from this same CD. It's very interesting to hear another version of the song, done in a totally different light! As much as the song is the same, its also that much different. Django keeps the creative thoughts flowing, as him and others re-do the song to make a completely new song. As innovative as the original. "Pick Yourself Up (Instrumental" closes out the CD.

This CD is about as flawless as they come! Never have I heard a ska album this damn good! This album will appeal to every ska traditionalist out there, as well as any fan (or newcomer) to the ska world. With worldwide appeal, there is nothing stopping this album from tearing up the charts! Do yourself a big favor, and treat yourself to the best album of 1997 (and possibly 1998?!?) A definite A+! Damn, this album is too hot for an A+, how about an A++! If that's possible, that's what it deserves! I just can't recommend this album enough.

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