Dr. Ring Ding and the Senior Allstars with Friends
Diggin' Up Dirt
Jump Up 2000 (www.jumpuprecords.com)

Richie "Dr. Ring-Ding" Senior has to be quite secure as the sovereign of German reggae. If anything, his deep, grating, playful vocals are too perfectly evocative of Jamaica. His third recording contains a series of collaborations with reggae and hip-hop artists, all lively and entertaining, some challenging in their heterodoxy, as well as a scad of wonderfully light-hearted jazz-ska instrumentals.

"Sound Unity" introduces the toasting trinity of the Doctor, King Django, and Rocker-T, kindred souls whose dueling raps on verses are outdone by their harmonies on the chorus, a winning formula repeated in "Fight Over God." In "Turn It Down," the smooth lovers-reggae crooning of Skatalites veteran Doreen Shaffer is continually upstaged by the Doctor's rude but good-natured hijinks and commentary. "My Sound Remix" reveals Dr. Ring-Ding as the jester-monarch of his musical kingdom, his happy clowning well contrasted with the hooded menace of G-Clef the Mad Komposa's rap, delivered over a driving dancehall beat and celebratory brass.

Solid as are the vocal tracks, the instrumentals might steal the show on Diggin' Up Dirt, did they not serve so well to leaven the mix. "Little One" is a carefree jazzy bop reminiscent of that innocent background music from sixties commercials, bubbly organ playing off Wes Montgomery-style octave guitar leads. "Daisy" changes the pace a bit, a crisp reggae beat with a very fifties sax lead, reminiscent of "Venus in Blue Jeans." Back on the vocal track, "Call Di Doctor Remix" is another successful blending of the Doctor's auctioneer-fast toasting with the smooth urban rap of Storm de Ghetto Mutant.

Not only is Diggin' Up Dirt great fun to hear, it illustrates the collaborative influences of reggae, past, present, and future. - Jim Foley

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