Welcome to the 14th episode where all the songs picked were chosen by listeners to 23min of Ska. I have to say, you all really surprised me with this one. Some of these acts I straight up didn’t know, and the rest I knew but either hadn’t heard the track suggested or was amazed I hadn’t played it yet! Once again, thanks everyone, you made this episode fantastic!
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Once more in a fit of laziness I made the fine ska fans over at /r/ska pick out the songs to play in this episode. If it totally rules, give them the credit, if it sucks, well, same story. Special shout out to Christopher from Run & Punch, who after a fan told me to play their song “So Long” he made sure to get me a copy to have for this episode! Above and beyond for the cats in R&P, so totally check them out if you ever get the chance!
After several requests, the theme this month is, ta da, cover songs! I’m not a big fan of ska cover songs, mainly because the idea always seems to be born out of the idea that “this song is great, but what would make it better is a ska version!” and, as much as I love ska, I just don’t subscribe to that thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I totally love cover songs (and if you haven’t been paying attention, I totally love ska too), especially when the covers are inventive or just fit in so well w/ the sound the band usually makes that you don’t even realize that it is a cover. So here are a bit of what I think of when I think of awesome ska cover songs. (At one point the theme was going to be ska bands covering ska bands, but to deny the sharing of the Pavement and TMBG covers would be criminal.)
I’ve never really thought about centering a whole show around a single label before, but if any record label deserves the honor of being the first, it has got to be the UK’s 2 Tone Records run by the Specials’ Jerry Dammers. This episode is also heavily influenced by a book my wife recently got for me for my birthday, “the Two Tone Story” by George Marshall. This book is a history of the label and the bands on the label. As I was reading it, it made me more and more want to go back and listen to those band and their early songs. I won’t lie, I don’t too much experience with a few of these bands, like the Bodysnatchers and the Selecter so it was nice to hear a little more from each of them. Also, the Swinging Cats are totally new to me and I can’t believe I hadn’t even heard of them before! Rico was a honorary member of the Specials and had studied under Don Drummond before moving to England. He is on a host of ska & rocksteady records from Jamaica and England from ’60s through the to the ’90s (playing with pretty much EVERYONE) and even played on both Dandy Livingstone & the Specials’ versions of “A Message to You, Rudy”. If that isn’t enough awesome we have some classics from the (English) Beat and Madness from their debut singles on 2 Tone. I couldn’t leave out a track from the Dance Craze comp so I went with one of the Bad Manners tracks. Even Bad Manners looks back and says it was a mistake for them to turn down a chance to do a 2 Tone single in their early years. I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least one track from the Specials/the Special AKA, so I went with my all time favorite, “Too Much Too Young” and went out and found a live version of it that I hadn’t heard before! I hope everyone enjoys this trip down memory lane/education type episode. I had a ball putting this together, so I hope it is also great for everyone to listen to.
the Bodysnatchers – Ruder Than You (Let’s Do Rock Steady / Ruder Than You ’80) the Special AKA – Too Much Too Young (Live) (Too Much Too Young ’80) Bad Manners – Lip Up Fatty (Live) (Dance Craze compilation ’81) the Beat – Tears of a Clown (Tears of a Clown / Ranking Full Stop ’79) Madness – the Prince (the Prince / Madness ’79)
Rico – Carolina (Sea Cruise / Carolina ’80)
the Swinging Cats – Away (Mantovani / Away ’80) the Selecter – Too Much Pressure (On My Radio / Too Much Pressure ’79)
The streets, you should be dancing in them, you’re listening to ska! Here’s another fine collection of music from my collection. I Voted for Kodos is an old favorite, hell I still even wear the bright green shirt they sold me. I became friends w/ Chris from IV4K when he joined a power pop band a bunch of my close friends where in. We hit it off as the “ska guys” at parties and such. Super cool guy, super cool band! I totally forgot I had this New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble CD until last week! I don’t know why, but I through it in my CD player and fell in love with it all over again! There’s a bit if a lost CD theme here, as at one point I thought I’d lost both my Debonaires and Dave Hilyard CDs only to find them right before I moved to LA! The New York Citizens where also brought back to my attention by a guy that works in my building named Burt. I either mentioned ska or he noticed my hoodie full of badges but we got to talking ska and he brought them up, and then hooked me up because I could never find the album back in the day! So yeah, take to the streets! Declare your ska love! I swear to everything holy, you’ll make new friends!
If you’re in a ska band and would like to be featured or if you know some music that you think I should hear for future inclusion, please email me at radjose[at]gmail[dot]com! I’ll play most anything.