The days of the “Madchester” boom may be long gone, but in the past two years its coastal neighbor to the west, Liverpool, has turned out a double indie attack in the form of the Coral and the Zutons. Now, the Dead 60’s make three. On their self-titled debut that mixes the cheeky vibe of London Calling, and a thick dub slab of Lee “Scratch” Perry, the Dead 60’s are already being dubbed (no pun intended) as the Sublime of the U.K. We’ll talk about that later, but for now lets hear about these boys who have made a marvelous debut, composed of some snide reggae punk. Did I also mention that The Dead 60’s is bulging with police sirens and frontman Matt McManamon’s howl which the likes have not been heard since Joe Strummer infamously roared “Ooooowwwwwwww ooowww oooowww!“?
The rocksteady thump of The English Beat reigns supreme on “Riot on the Radio” as “A Different Ace” is snottier than a British art student in his freshman year. The gurgling ripple from bassist Charlie Turner fits well with the squibbling “Nowhere” and the stoned dub aura of King Tubby lays down the foundation of “Red Light.” Sit tight as the sirens blare apace with MacManamon’s breezy panting and guitarist Ben Gordon’s cringing sting mash.
“Just Another Love Song” clutches the swinging insubordination from Gang of Four and the bearings of urban peril on par with those of political reggae artist Mutabaruka on “Control This.” McManamon even sings with the vibrating tongue twitter, becoming the only white boy to pull it off well since Brad Nowell of Sublime. The clout from the Clash pops up once more when “Loaded Gun” churns out the gyrating kinesthesia of “Rock the Casbah” On the other hand, “Nationwide” is probably the only sonic middle ground between the rural English country sides and the ghettos of Kingston.
Ganja heads of the world rejoice! “We Get Low” is the gem of the album as it throws down the wacky stoned groove reminiscent of the classic Toots and the Maytals album Funky Kingston. Long live the sticky Trenchtown organ hooks! The Dead 60’s can also retain the vibe of a pill-popping, troublemaking, Vespa riding, argyle-clad mod blended with the gurgling foolhardiness on “Horizontal.”
The Dead 60’s have gone one step beyond ska. They have the true work ethic of the all the bands from Great Britain’s punk boom of the late seventies when the nation was on the verge of economic decay. The album can be dark, upbeat, and ass-shaking all at once. The Dead 60’s are the first genuine rudeboys of the 21st century.
General Public – All the Rage
The Specials – More Specials
The Police – Regatta de Blanc