For a great many of us the best punk band in the history of the genre was The Ruts, a band which fused raw street life and sound with addictive bass heavy dub and reggae. From day one they were a formidable and inciting presence cut short by the passing of frontman Malcolm Owen in 1980 aged 26. The history of the band up to that point is well documented within punk and rock, the music still igniting fires and lingering with relish and provocation year after year in many ways, and the same can be said of the band since, though the release of the new Ruts DC album Rhythm Collision Volume 2 equally highlights the large gap in music left by their absence for the last three decades.
Absence is a little misleading though as drummer Dave Ruffy and bassist John ‘Segs’ Jennings have certainly continued to inspire and leave a strong imprint on music, both playing live in numerous bands and with their impressive production skills which has led the pair to be tagged as Europe’s Sly and Robbie. It has been a long period for time to bare since the remaining members of The Ruts after the tragic death of Owen, released the albums Animal Now and Rhythm Collision as Ruts DC in 1981 and ’82 respectively, and an even bigger miss for music once Jennings, Ruffy, and guitarist Paul Fox called it a day a year after their last album. Their reunion in 2007 to play a benefit gig for Fox who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and sadly died later the same year, ignited all the dormant passions with the show, an event which saw the likes of The Damned, Misty In Roots, UK Subs, Tom Robinson, and John Otway supporting and Henry Rollins taking over the vocal presence for the band, being declared as “the best punk gig of all time” by the Times.
This led to the band to reuniting with Neil Fraser aka Mad Professor who worked with the band on Rhythm Collision in the studio for an impromptu session which then led to another day of guest vocalists and musicians bringing their talent to the now vibrant project. Ruffy has said about the recording, “The album really came together by a series of fortunate events, before we knew it we were back in the studio for The Great Day of Vocals – Segs, Ngoni (aka Delbert McKay, Misty’s guitarist/vocalist), gifted lyricist Aynzli Jones, Brixton lyrics man Tenor Fly and Rob Love, frontman with Alabama 3 all turned up, tuned in and came up with the goods. Nothing was pre-conceived or planned.“
Due to hectic schedules the proposed plan to get Mad Professor to do the final mix was an unavailable option the pair turned to Brighton producer Prince Fatty aka Mark Pelanconi. With everything in place and as it emerges beautifully finished, Rhythm Collision Vol.2 stepped forward and without any hesitation can be announced as one of the finest most exhilarating albums to grace and ignite the passions in a long time. The rhythmic heart of the album shows Ruffy and Jennings have lost none of their majestic power and provocative resonance whilst creatively they lay bench mark after benchmark for bands and artists to be inspired by within reggae, dub, punk, music.
As soon as the brilliant Mighty Soldier idles up to the ear with a warm ambience and joyful tease there is a fire smouldering within the ear, the throaty bass lure vibrant yet shadowed whilst the vocals of Tenor Fly shape thoughts with style and slight mischief within the seductive harmonies. It is a mild paced romp, a pulsating evocative persistence which leaves feet, voice, and passion eager to add their collaboration to the sultry dance, the brass flames bringing further irresistible temptation. Throughout the space synths of Steve Jones tease and add sweet devilry to the encounter whilst the keys of Seamus Beaghen provide a caress and firm push which leads to greater ardour for the stunning start whilst the guitar niggle is incendiary within the whole impressive blaze.
Through the likes of the sky travelling soundscape of Mix Up featuring Molara Awen on vocals, the white hot persuasion of One Step and Smiling Culture, the release grips tighter on the senses and emotions. The second of the trio resonates through thought and synapse whilst its touch is like a seductive walk over hot coals, a track to be taken gently, devoured thoughtfully, and enjoyed addictively, whilst the third, a song based on the death of Smiley Culture, is a deeply evocative and beautifully sweltering fascination of intent and sound with the vocals of Aynzli Jones and Rob Love riveting. At this point the album has already left a full rapture for its presence at play and goes on to only reinforce its potency with each track.
The oscillating atmosphere of Technology with its impossibly contagious brass call and the bone trembling sirenesque bass inducement of Jennings, which pushes the boundaries of Sun & The Stars to their delicious limits, evoke further imagination and hunger whilst the mesmeric caress of London Dub featuring Smokes (William Simon) is instant captivation, a welcome submergence in a soak of roasting ambience and equally fervid breath.
For personal tastes the first half of the album steals the show with its insatiable energy and invention but as the songs just mentioned and the likes of the thrilling dub heaven Heavyweight Style and The Road unveil their imperious charms there is no loss of lustful hunger and pleasure across the whole album. Featuring the blissful voice of Jessica Mcintyre, The Road is another glorious torrid slice of beauty veined by pulsating shadows from that irresistible bass lure of Jennings, a final triumph on the album though the two dub-core mixes of Technology and Soldier which do finally close the album are no fillers either.
With further contributions from guitarist Leigh Heggarty and vocals from Ngoni Mukai and Aurora Dawn in the mixing pot, the Sosumi Recording released Rhythm Collision Volume 2 is an unbridled treat, a collaboration extraordinaire which leaves the body, soul, and world a better place.
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