Ruts DC: Reissues

London punks’ reggae-inspired second incarnation revisited.

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The Ruts are probably best known for their hit Babylon’s Burning and for the sad, early death of their original singer Malcolm Owen in 1980. While they never regained chart success, the rest of the group showed themselves to be among the most adept exponents of punk’s affiliation with reggae.

Released in 1982, Rhythm Collision Vol. 1 (810) was recorded with Neil Fraser (aka the Mad Professor) at his home studio, the group high on Nigerian weed.

The results remain vibrant and undimmed, far less dated than other more heralded albums of the time. It’s not just the Prof’s varispeeding and reverb-ing that make the album, it’s the quality of the playing, including the late Paul Fox’s guitars and Mitt Gamon’s harmonica on Whatever We Do, or their accomplished, funky chops on Militant.

Live On Stage (710), meanwhile, comprises cuts from gigs during 2013-14, a veritable punky reggae party as they flip effortlessly between rock and dub./o:p

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.