Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down
The Toasters have been in the ska business longer than anyone in the US. Period. Seventeen years ago, nobody else was playing ska in the US. Seventeen years later, they’re still together and at it. If any band has earned the chance to rest on their laurels, surely it’s these guys. Thankfully, that isn’t what the Toasters have done on Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down. Quite to the contrary, this is possibly the Toasters best work since the now-classic Dub 56.
First of all, it’s important to give credit where it’s due: a couple of years ago, when vocalist Coolie Ranks left the band, his replacement, Jack Ruby, Jr., was met with heavy criticism. His work here should shut every last one of those critics’ mouths. He’s really come into his own, both as a singer and a toaster, as tracks like “Fire in My Soul” and especially “Wotay” clearly show. Anything the Toasters may have lost in this department has certainly been well-replaced.
Having said that, D.L.T.B.G.Y.D. is classic Toasters from start to finish. The title track and “Devil and a .45” are good old-fashioned foot stompers featuring the unmistakable vocals of Rob “Bucket” Hingley. In addition to his incomparable trumpet work throughout the disc, The Sledge, the smoothest man in the universe, adds his amazing vocal talents to a cover of Spencer Davis’ “Gimme Some Lovin'” as well as his own bluesy original, “Rude, Rude Baby” (my personal favorite track). “Today’s a Good Day” is a soulful romp. In fact, the album’s sole misstep is the newly-recorded version of their old favorite “Weekend in L.A.,” which was nearly perfect before, and didn’t need to be tampered with.
In short, Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down is the Toasters’ best work in some time. Provided they keep putting out stuff of this caliber, here’s to another seventeen years! Moon SKA NYC, P.O. Box 1412, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276; http://www.moonska.com