LEGENDARY 2-TONE artists, The Selecter, have always been my 2-Tone band of choice so I was eagerly anticipating this album. The title, Subculture, lends itself well to the original ethos of 2-Tone which encouraged the mixing of genres and youth cultures - mods, punks, and rude boys all skanking to the same punky reggae beat.
The Selecter sound is undeniable with remaining original members Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson’s vocals, however the other original members are missed, particularly Noel Davies' trademark guitar work.
The opening track is a light, airy ska/pop tune with a positive message about keeping things fresh and in the present - a hint at the album as a whole in that this is definitely not the Selecter of old. The album continues with a number of great tributes to some of the influential styles to come out of Jamaica namely dancehall, dub, reggae, and rocksteady. Gaps seems to be in his element with tunes like the uptempo reggae 'It Never Worked Out' and a version of Culture’s classic 'See Them A Come’.
Pauline's vocal brings the heavy dread sound with the politically charged tunes like 'Karma' and 'Walk The Walk' (which sounds a bit like The Specials version of 'A Message To You' during the chorus ). This is what Pauline does best. Delivering a serious message over a ska beat.
The album was mixed by Prince Jammy and although his influence can be heard throughout on first and even second listen there are no tracks to rival anything on seminal LPs Too Much Pressure or Celebrate The Bullet. There is no 'Three Minute Hero' or 'On My Radio' here but Subculture is a great departure for the band. They remain relevant and vibrant with lots of potential for even better things.