Someone on Reddit told me that if I stopped making politically slanted episodes that this podcast might be worth listening to. You know something, I agree, I plan that last week’s episode was the beginning and end of all that! From now on, politically neutral. Just like ska is. Politics free.
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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)