The playful packaging of "Never Trust a Hippy" is deceptive. From the revolutionary joke of the title to the freakin' frog on the cover, the effect indicates the music within may well be some sort of light rejoinder to Adrian Sherwood's storied history as a production provocateur. Nope. Sherwood maintains the smoldering violence that's always lurked behind his sultry, multi-culti dub work for the On-U Sound label, recasting his approach for this morally decrepit decade. Calling up the On-U regulars (Keith Le Blanc, Skip McDonald) as well as the varied contributions of Sly & Robbie and Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali, "NTAH" qualifies as another stunning entry into Sherwood's catalog of sonic subversions. Largely restrained in tone but richly cinematic in texture ("Dead Man Smoking," the straightest "reggae" track, is icily dry in its approach), this album shows why Sherwood, with his intellectual-but-intuitive approach to pan-ethnic dub and studio trickery, is still light years ahead of his American analog, Bill Laswell. After all, Laswell would never have the balls to put a frog on one of his album covers.
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