Jah Wobble & the English Roots Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jah Wobble & the English Roots Band

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Jah Wobble started his career at the top of the postpunk heap, playing colossal reggae-influenced bass lines for Public Image Ltd. when he was just barely out of his teens. Things fizzled out fairly quickly, though: after leaving PiL in 1980 he embarked on some promising but uneven projects both on his own and with members of Can, and by the mid-80s he'd left music entirely, working various jobs for the London Underground. The albums he's made since reviving his career in the late 80s break down into two categories: spiritually oriented, commercially viable world-music excursions and far more adventurous efforts with avant-garde types like turntablist Philip Jeck and saxophonist Evan Parker. His latest release, Mu (Trojan), fits into the first one: its percolating dance beats, cop-show jazz flutes, Bollywood vocal samples, and slick keyboards go down easy, but the songs don't have much staying power. But he seems likely to emphasize the odder, more rewarding pages of his bulging songbook at this show, given the musicians who'll be joining him. Drummer Mark Sanders and guitarist Chris Cookson have been with Wobble for years, and they can be counted on to keep his trademark massive grooves flowing. But with singer Liz Carter and bagpiper Jean-Pierre Rasle on board, you can also expect to hear some of the gorgeous, blood-spattered traditional English folk songs that Wobble subjected to stark dub treatments on his brilliant 2003 CD, English Roots Music (30 Hertz). Goldblood, featuring Plastic Crimewave on guitar and Amy Cargill on keyboards, plays second; Salvo Beta opens. Sat 1/28, 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15.

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