Recorded at Version City studio, Nex Music is the third full-length production for the All-Stars. Like 1994’s Old’s Cool, the All-Stars made Nex Music with Stubborn Records. The new one features King Django, Victor Rice, Agent Jay (Crazy Baldhead, Agent 99), Victor Ruggiero (Slackers), Eddie Ocampo, Lord Sledge (The Toasters), and other talented musicians in this ska music extravaganza.
Nex Music sports a variety of fine tunes. Accompanied by flicking lighters and light-hearted laughter, the positive sounds that float throughout are influenced by classic reggae, Cajun music, old school French jazz, America’s mid-century rock and roll, and a salsa music sway. The French track “Couer Blesse” takes listeners to a smoke-filled, small, dark jazz club. The Spanish track “No Hay Luz” is reminiscent of the supreme Los Lobos. Along with the reggae beats, both give Nex Music the global sound that resides in America.
“Take Your Chances” offers up a mean ska trumpet. Though the lyrics are a bit predictable, this upbeat philosophical tune supports activist energy. “From Time to Time” features a swing-like harmony with a beautiful female voice. There are also some smooth guitar riffs on this track, and its simple, repetitive lyrics are catchy. “Buccaneer Bay,” an instrumental number, has an island sound to it and great horn work by Rolf Langsjoen and John Chapman. Langsjoen’s trumpet and Chapman’s tenor sax underpin another instrumental track, “True Mental,” which incorporates some refreshing guitar work. “Saturday Night” is a simple, mellow song featuring Chris Murray’s vocals, grooving harmonies, and Victor Rice’s sweet organ solo. “I’ll Never Go Home” is easy and lush. Victor’s Ruggiero’s vocals and whistles flow through smart, sarcastic lyrics.
“Wash Away Evil” has to be the best ska track. The vocals clip rhythmically, and the lyrics evoke vivid images of spells and the earth. This song includes wonderful harmonies, and near the end of the song, a female voice washes in like a siren for the background. “Not Like a Star” is a slow love song with mournful lyrics over a solid reggae beat. “The Grand Masters” picks things up a bit, adding some funk over classic reggae bass and crisp drums. Rocker T’s vocals on “The Road Song” are backed by smooth flowing bass lines and harmonies that declare the fate of a musical gypsy traveler. The last track, “Dub Like a Star,” leaps forward into rub-a-dub style and is a good-feeling number, closing out the album nicely.
All together, the All-Stars have put together a good ska collection that easily moves listeners to eclectic beats.