This Is Ska Too!

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

I actually owned this for maybe two to three years before I bought the first volume (by the way, great use of homophones to create a clever title). I don’t know how regarded or known these comps are, but I think they are impressive in their scope and selections. I wish more people were exposed to real ska (or even Two-Tone). I suspect the modern, white, suburban element of third-wave ska – with its hard-to-shake artificiality and obvious cultural cooption – is what causes people to wrinkle their noses when you mention ska. As with perhaps too many things, what we think we know isn’t actually the real story.

What I Think of This Album

Once again, another fine effort from the ska fans at Music Club. I definitely own a couple of these already – “It Mek,” “Skinhead Moonstomp,” and “Monkey Man” – but the rest were new to me, for which I am most appreciative. Impressively, there is not much artistic overlap with the first volume either. Desmond Dekker appears again, as do the Upsetters and Baba Brooks, and it’s impossible for the Skatalites not to make additional (credited and uncredited) appearances.

If the first ten seconds and entire bass line of 1969 instrumental “Liquidator” sound familiar, it’s very likely because the Staples Singers borrowed them for “I’ll Take You There.” Credited to the Harry J All-Stars, some of the backing musicians on this recording were the guys who became the Upsetters and then the Wailers, though not Winston Wright, who plays the critical, glassine organ part. This song has been covered by the Specials.

Fortunately, Desmond Dekker’s “Get Up Edina” is NOT on my Dekker compilation, so this joyous tune from 1965 was a welcome revelation. Kentrick Patrick (also known as Lord Creator) was from Trinidad and Tobago, and had a hit in 1963 with “Don’t Stay Out Late,” on which the vocals are perhaps a little too smooth (and sometimes remind me, melodically, of Christmas music), but the backing track is great.

“Dance Crasher” is a wonderful song from 1965, credited to Alton and the Flames, highlighted by a bright and bold trumpet part and some excellent, ever-so-grit-infused emoting by Alton Ellis. Another instrumental is “The Rude Boy” courtesy of the lazily named Duke Reid’s Group, and this one from 1964 is just a tad staid and goes on longer than necessary.

While I have a bias against early ‘70s ska, I have to admit that Jeff Barry and Bobby Bloom’s “Montego Bay,” recorded by Freddie Notes and the Rudies, isn’t bad at all, with a soul music inspired feel. Significantly better is “One-Eyed Giant” by Baba Brooks from 1965, with an infectious guiro rhythm and horn part, and scat-like vocals.

Patsy Millicent Todd was on the first volume of this compilation as half of Derrick and Patsy; here she is part of follow-up act Stranger (Cole) and Patsy  (and Baba Brooks and his band). “Yeah Yeah Baby” is a bittersweet duet dating back to 1969, with Patsy easily outshining her partner on vocals, and sporting a Caribbean guitar part. The Upsetters’ organ-heavy “Dollar In the Teeth” oozes with menace and dark energy; the track was written by Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Tommy McCook and the Skatalites provide boppy “Silver Dollar,” replete with horns, sax, and maybe clarinet (?). Slim Smith died tragically, but he recorded several hits, including “The New Boss” (1967) which showcases his unique vocals. The Skatalites are almost certainly the backing band on “Dreader Than Dread,” credited to Honey Boy Martin and the Voices; Martin has a deliciously deep voice, put to good use on this 1967 track.

The rambunctious “Bonanza Ska” – which, yes, is a ridiculous ska version of the theme song from tv western Bonanza (and also folds in The Lone Ranger theme, otherwise known as the fourth section of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”) – by Carlos Malcom and the Afro-Caribs is in defiance of all logic a pretty fun song.

The Best Thing About This Album

A toss-up between “Dance Crasher” and “One-Eyed Giant.”

Release Date

1997

The Cover Art

Another fine job by the Music Club folks. The color scheme is better this time, and the graphics are great, again.

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