The Toasters: Rob Bucket Hingley (vocals, guitar); The Sledge (vocals, trumpet); Coolie Ranx (vocals); Lester Ska Sterling (alto saxophone); Freddie Fred Reiter (saxophone); Rick Chunk Faulkner (trombone); Dave Barry (keyboards, background vocals); Matt Malles (bass); Johnnathan McCain (drums); Mo Asumang (background vocals).
Recorded at Studio 900, New York, New York and Z Studio, Brooklyn, New York.
Personnel: Brian Sledge (vocals, trumpet); Coolie Ranx (vocals); Fred Reiter (saxophone); Lester Sterling (alto saxophone); Rick Faulkner (trombone); Dave Barry (keyboards, background vocals); Mo Asumang (background vocals).
Recording information: Studio 900; Z Studio.
It had been a roller coaster ride for The Toasters, slogging up the ladder of success only to have their label go down, prompting three of their members to quit, and leaving the band floundering. Picking themselves up, the remaining group brought in new recruits, found a new label, Pork Pie, and new determination with bandleader Bucket setting out to turn Moon Ska into America's premier ska label. The pay-off finally came in 1993. By then, the ska scene was on the verge of breaking into the mainstream, and excitement electrified the air. No album captured the sheer exuberance of this time like Dub 56. The entire set is a rambunctious celebration of ska and, from the opening note to the closing refrain 14 tracks later, the listener is drawn into a party that just doesn't want to end. Although recorded in the studio, the band play like they're standing in front of an ecstatic hometown crowd, and eager to deliver up a set worthy of that adoration. "Direction" jubilantly sets the stage with anthemic abandon, "Mona" kicks it up a few more notches, its irrepressible melody and swing styling pulling even the wall flowers onto the dancefloor. And then up steps Skatalite Lester Sterling to send everyone into a slow-grinding "Dancin'" frenzy. He returns later for "Marlboro Man," a tight, flamboyant instrumental, that gives the veteran plenty of space to showcase his flashy skills. The title track, though, showcases the band at their most energetic, across a high octane skanker that defies its title. For those actually searching for dub, they'll find it on "Legal Shot," albeit in a splendid dancehall setting, a number that also boasts Coolie Ranx at his singjaying best. "Tunisia" throws a spotlight on the group's jazzier styling, "Midnight Hour" shows just how much fun you can have with a soul classic, and "Goody, Goody" just how entertaining the Toasters' own songs are. For those still on an adrenaline rush from the Skavoovie tour, this album went some way towards satiating a now unendurable longing for more ska'citement. Still, the Toasters take the set out on such a high that the relief is at best temporary, only raising anticipation for more. What higher accolade is there than that? ~ Jo-Ann Greene