Long Beach Dub All-Stars - Right Back (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Long Beach Dub All-Stars

Right Back (1999)


It's impossible to review the Long Beach Dub Allstars without talking about the band's history. Bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh were members of the very successful ska/punk hybrid Sublime. Sublime's front man, Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose two months prior to the band's very successful 1996 self-titled release. Without their guitarist / lyricist the band fell apart. The Long Beach Dub Allstars were pulled together for a tribute show with proceeds going to Nowell's son. After donating a track to an Operation Ivy tribute (the song Take Warning) the band signed to Dreamworks.

"Right Back" is easygoing and rhythmic. The band takes the stylistic devices that Sublime established and takes them in various musical directions (some more successful that others). There are some great pop/punk/ska songs, such as "Rosarito," "Like a Dog," and the single "Trailer Ras," however the band seems more inclined to jam amongst themselves then appeal to pop audiences like Sublime did.

"Right Back" features an impressive array of guest vocalists. HR, front man of the legendary Bad Brains lends his voice to the song "New Sun". Half Pint adds his toasting to "Pass It On," and UK's dancehall king Tippa Irie is featured on "Sensi." Lover's rock legend Barrington Levy does the vocals for the opening and closing tracks. He contributes to the "Righteous Dub" and a great cover of Sublime's "Saw Red." Not all of the guests are reggae artists; Pennywise guitarist (and Long Beach native) Fletcher plays on "My Own Life" and rapper Dangr contributes his fluid lyrics to "Kick Down."

Guest vocalists sing nearly half the songs on the album. LBDAS' own vocalist Opie Ortiz and vocalist/guitarist RAS-1 never seem to truly make their mark. There are some weaknesses in the harmonies that the duo attempts, but that's forgivable in punk rock. Vocal issues aside, the band is made up of truly skilled musicians, many who play a variety of instruments (the band's DJ drums for a few tracks). "Right Back" isn't bad, but such a musically strong group could (and I'm sure will) do much better.

Not related to much too the album: if you ever have the chance to see the Allstars live, go. It's like a huge sing-along Sublime eulogy.

- Adam White (Shindo)