Various Artists Dub Selector
As gimmicks go, Dub Selector has a pretty good one: get electronic producers like St. Germain and Cottonbelly (Sade's sax and guitar player) to mix DJ culture's downtempo savvy and chill into the music's already spooky, mysterious aural space. Almost every song on this compilation is already a contact high, so you'd think that a handful of DJs twisting them to fit their creative mindsets would make it a slam-dunk. And it is, mostly, except for one major thing: these brilliant DJ/producers—most of whom hail from Germany, England and Austria—frequently play it too safe in their attempts at crafting club-style versions of the wonderful music revolutionized by dub pioneers like Lee Perry, Augustus Pablo and Mad Professor. A cool idea, but if you're as talented as these dub selectors, you should bust your nut to take the music a little further. Sure, they tweak dub by slipping electronic and jungle beats into their mixes. But when they do get crazy, it's on the R&B side. G-Corp remixes yet another cover of reggae classic “Police and Thieves”—with singer Luciano on the mic, they give the once-spare, reedy protest song a bath in a lush, Philly-soul sound that would make Teddy Pendergrass grin. Then there's the icy “Rock It Tonight,” wrapped in a sensual chill that uniquely mixes the reserve of Sade with the aggression of Grace Jones. The rest of this album's dubs do a fine job of putting an uptown sheen on an avant-garde, ghetto music. It's just too bad they didn't aspire to be as wild and artsy as dub itself.