Here it is everyone, the end of a long journey through ska’s “lost decade”, the ’70s. We made it! I say we because we took this trip through time and music together! I learned a whole bunch, and listened to a whole lot of music that I’d never heard before, but I really should have! I’ve never been a ska historian, I dig into the now and current a lot more than looking to the past. That’s been a mistake, I can see that now! After putting together this set of songs I’ve learned that if you’re getting sick of ska music, because you think you’ve heard it all, well, shut up, because ska’s history and music runs deep! Let that be a lesson, always be exploring, never rest, get out there, hunt, and enjoy the sweet sounds!
At the end of the last episode it should be no surprise how I kicked this one off. Yeah, I was in the mood for some 2Tone bands, which then lead me into a listening session of other more traditional ska bands from the era I like to call “before I got into the ska music”. One of the things about ska is that it has so much riches in it, a lot of people focus on the early days with what was coming out of Jamaica, and some even on the British bands of the late ’70s/early ’80s, but there seems to be a lack of love for the late ’80s/early ’90s ska that isn’t ska/punk. As everything else that has to do w/ ska music, I still need to learn a lot more about it! I hope that mixing that sound along w/ some of the UK’s top acts doesn’t offend your listening sensibilities.
Once again, time and making records has got the best of me! I know, incredibly frustrating! All I have to do is sit around all day and listen to ska music and throw it all together for you to listen to once a week! You might be surprised, but I maybe put too much thought into it and too much pressure on myself to make these! So here’s an oldie but a goody, from way back when my only listeners were me, my friends Jen & Marianne and my cats, full of some great great music!
Skankin’ Pickle – Song #3 (Skankin’ Pickle Fever ’92)
the Siren Six! – Frame Up (the Voice with the Built in Promise ’97) Let’s Go Bowling – Spy Market (Mr. Twist ‘ 96)
the Small Mediums at Large – the Blues (the Small Mediums at Large ’99) Hepcat – Bobby & Joe (Scientific ’96) Skavoovie & the Epitones – Sonic Boom (Fat Footin’ 95) the Selecter – Three Minute Hero (Too Much Pressure ’80)
Johnny Too Bad & the Strike Outs – Cherry Pie (Patchwork Girl ’97) Streetlight Manifesto – 9mm & a Three-Piece Suit (Keasbey Nights ’06)
If you’re in a ska band and would like to be interviewed or have a song featured, please email me at radjose[at]gmail[dot]com.
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)
Here we are, another 23 minutes of ska. What’s really been fun with this project is pulling out some CDs that I haven’t listened to in years and rediscovering some old favorites. I hope this has the same effect for some of the listeners and introduces something new to others. And for the last song I couldn’t find my Catch 22 CD so I went with the Streetlight Manifesto version. Catch your copy by downloading it here.