This episode came together quicker than I thought it would, I knew a lot of great songs that I wanted to use and they all just snapped into place. My wife wanted me to put some David Bowie to see if any of you were paying attention, I laughed, but in the end only let her name this episode and pick the episode picture. So here it is, a new great episode of 23min of Ska for your Summer listening pleasure.
the Forthrights – Carla (Policeman/Carla ’10)
Less Than Jake – Harvey Wallbanger (Greetings from Less Than Jake ’11)
Kill Lincoln – “F” for Finished (That’s Cool… In a Totally Negative & Destructive Way ’13)
Abraskadabra – Rainbow (Grandma Nancy’s Old School Garden ’12)
Dave Hillyard & Friends – Green Dolphin Street (California ’13)
Laurel Aitken – Sally Brown (the Story so Far… ’06)
the Specials – Too Hot (the Specials ’79)
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)
Welcome to a very Special episode of 23min of Ska. I know that the point of this podcast is to primarily be a third wave ska format podcast with the occasional first and second wave stuff mixed in, but today the first half is all first wave stuff! Why? Well I’m presenting to you the very first episode dedicated to a single band, and that band is the Specials. The first 4 songs are songs that inspired/were covered by the Specials, and the last 4 are covers of songs the Specials wrote. Easy. While “Monkey Man” and “Rudy, a Message to You” have been covered several times by other bands, the Specials did it first. It was pretty hard to decide which Prince Buster song to use, but after I heard it, I knew it had to be “Al Capone” because “Gangsters” is by far one of my favorite Specials songs. The one good thing about doing all this research is that I’m now a confirmed Lloyd Charmers fan, and I now know what the Specials are onto w/ the some of the lyrics from “Too Much Too Young”. In the covers section, I have to say I was very happy to’ve found the Aggrolites version of “Ghost Town”. It is pretty damn awesome, and after listening to about a dozen other versions it is truly the best one. I was also blessed to find the “Spare Shell: a Tribute to the Specials” compilation, which is where this Dr Ragu track comes from. This Goldfinger cover never fails to crack me up (but I really wish Johnny Socko had recorded their “Nite Klub” as it is the best I’ve ever heard) and finally rounding out the cast is Big D & the Kids Table with one of the best cover songs out there. This episode is a look to the past while being firmly rooted in today, hope you enjoy it.
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.
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