Dr. Ring-Ding & the Senior Allstars
Diggin’ Up Dirt: The Version Album ’95-’99
In ska and reggae music, there’s a long standing tradition of the “version;” that is, taking the basic tracks from a familiar song and tweaking them by adding new vocals, guest musicians, new instrumentation, and/or remixing. The original tune is always identifiable in the mix, but the result is something brand new. You might think of this as a new phenomenon created by today’s “electronica” artists, but it all goes back to the old-school ska masters. So who better to bring the tradition back to ska and reggae than the modern-day masters of all things traditional, Dr. Ring-Ding & the Senior Allstars? Diggin’ Up Dirt takes the basic tracks from some of the best tunes from di Doctor’s two albums, as well as tracks recorded during the band’s stints backing ska legends Doreen Shaffer, Lord Tanamo, and Judge Dread, and expands the basic tracks into forays into dub, hip hop, acid jazz, and more. The result is an early contender for record of the year, and a record I can’t see tiring of any time soon!
The tracks that are bound to gain the most immediate attention are those featuring guest performers, and with good reason: there are some pretty amazing collaborations here! “Sound Unity” and “Fight Over God” match di Doctor with NYC Ska Mobsters King Django and Rocker T, and the result is everything you’d expect, an incredible toasting display that I’d kill to see duplicated live! The sweet voice of Doreen Schaffer drifts between Ring-Ding’s boasts on “Turn It Down” (a version of Jackie Opel’s “Turn Your Lamps Down Low”), but the most impressive collaborations come in on two of my favorite tracks from Ram Di Dance . “My Sound” and “Call Di Doctor” are remixed by the band’s bass player, Andre Meyer, and his brother, Daniel, into straight-out hip hop jams that would easily get any club jumping, complete with new raps from G-Clef da Mad Komposa and Storm da Ghetto Mutant. Anyone that’s doubted the fact that hip hop’s roots lie in ska should hear these two tracks — if you didn’t know the originals, you’d never suspect the connection.
That’s not to say that the tracks that only feature the band members are not worth a listen — to the contrary, each band member gets a chance to show their particular talents, and the results are just as interesting as any collaboration. Saxophonist Oliver Wienand transforms the “Your Sympathy” riddim into the smooth Jamaican jazz groove of “Daisy,” while guitarist Markus Dassman reworks Lord Tanamo’s “Keep On Moving” with an acid jazz flavor, and the result, “Golden Gate,” is as refreshing as a summer rain shower. The whole band shines on the dub takes “Georgia Dub” and “Queen Dub,” while the Meyer Brothers again stretch their remixing skills, giving a harder dancehall spin to “Rudeboy Style.”
Trust me when I say that Diggin’ Up Dirt is no simple “remix” album, though. If it’s possible, each one of the tracks have changed for the better — and when you’re dealing with tracks that were brilliant to begin with, the result is something really special. Get Diggin’ Up Dirt at any cost — it should cement the good Doctor and his bandmates as the artists of the decade!
Grover Records / Moskito Promotion, P.O. Box 3072, 48016 Munster, Germany