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David Ruffin

David Ruffin

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In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a ska fan.

The genre in general just doesn't do it for me.

To my ears, it's a somewhat homogenized and monotonous sound, and ultimately has something of a narcoleptic effect on me.

So it was with trepidation that I approached The Aggrolites [ tickets ], a reggae outfit from Los Angeles.

To my surprise, they won me over right at the outset.

Loose but firmly entrenched in the pocket, The Aggrolites strike me as what might have been the result of David Ruffin fronting Booker T.

& The M.G.'s as they try their hand at ska during an after-hours studio party.

What allows The Aggrolites to transcend the style where so many others have trafficked in carbon-copy bar-bandness is the combined power of whiskey-soaked soul in Jesse Wagner's vocals and the Stax-like limberness of the band.

Mainly, though, it's Wagner's voice that separates the band from a million other faceless pogo-mongers.

His is a spot-on soul instrument that, transplanted in this context, makes the music positively cook.

It's truly a terrific combination that brings to life nearly every song on the record.
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