Title: Commercial Grates
Artist: Salmonella Dub
Released: 15/1/2018
Rating: 4/5
Reviewed by JACK LEONARD

 

How on earth do you attempt to sum up the 25 year history of a band that has influenced countless Australasian acts within reggae, roots, dub, hip-hop, and drum and bass? This is an issue that Salmonella Dub found themselves facing when people within the music industry began to approach them about compiling a ‘best of’ compilation to celebrate this notable anniversary.

The answer to that issue wasn’t as simple as just picking their best songs. Salmonella Dub’s first album that charted at number one in New Zealand, Inside The Dub Plates, doesn’t have a song that’s less than five minutes long. Their style largely lends itself to long play albums and alternative radio, which doesn’t exactly help when attempting to make a compilation that spans their whole career. Thus the solution to Salmonella Dub’s problem was to grate down some of their best material into shorter cuts that would suit the album. The result is the aptly-named Commercial Grates; a nearly two hour long medley of Salmonella Dub’s astounding career that relies on radio cuts and remixes to give you a glimpse of the many highs that the group have hit.

Commercial Grates begins with the sole 2017 re-recording of a track for the album, Tomfoolery, and the subsequent 29 tracks follow a steady path backwards toward the beginning of their career, ending with a Technova mix of THC Winter from their 1995 EP. During this journey backwards in time, it’s not hard to pick up on just how significant Salmonella Dub’s influence on the New Zealand music scene has been. Undeniable carriers of the torch that Salmonella Dub lit include the likes of Shapeshifter, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Kora, and Trinity Roots. That such recognisably Kiwi/Pacifika sounding acts as these take influence from Salmonella Dub says a lot about just how big a legacy the band have, even if modern audiences are less familiar with their material compared to the artists that they have helped to shape. Such is the nature of influence in art.

It’s fair to say that what you get with Commercial Grates is not necessarily Salmonella Dub at their purest. It is, however, an astounding montage of an illustrious and influential career that’s presented carefully enough to provide an access point for new listeners, while also bringing fresh takes on old cuts to appeal to established fans. Above all, Commerical Grates is a history lesson for fans of contemporary New Zealand music.

Salmonella Dub still have a busy year ahead of them, with an album of new material and a new vinyl box due out later this year. They have also remastered all of their videos from the original beta masters into HD on their Youtube channel. Commercial Grates is available now on CD and as a digital download.

 

JACK LEONARD is a Cinema and Media graduate with a penchant for dogs that look like wolves. He’s a music enthusiast who divides his time evenly between consuming unhealthy amounts of media and getting lost in forests. 

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