This wasn't a great year for ska. Every now and then (it almost seems like the years alternate from one to the next) everybody slows down and all of the "ska" releases are reggae. It's boring.
I prefer the up-tempo stuff with a ska beat and there were some good releases this year but not many. Individual songs stood out above full albums or EPs. In fact I can't think of one release from 2019 that I can listen to all the way through. So many songs start out as a great ska song and then goes into a reggae or pop-punk or (egads) funk. Come on people. Stop ruining your own songs by trying to appeal to too many different interests. If you play a ska song then, for fuck's sake, play a ska song. Ska from beginning to end.
A few of the selections on this playlist do that. Start out as ska but becomes something else. But I kept them in there because I had a hard time scraping up 35 songs this year. My end-of-the-year posts usually have 50 songs but that wasn't going to happen. These are songs I actually like, not just stuff I feel like I have to put on there.
In the spirit of brutal honesty there were some anticipated releases this year that I was very disappointed with. Top of that list is The Specials. I seriously didn't appreciate one single second of that album. The content was as drab as the cover. Of course the cover inspired my picture up there because I wasn't all that enthused about this past year in ska myself.
One thing I like to see is when old bands make their music accessible. If they all did that there would be no interest in blogs like this one. But the only two noteworthy releases I know of are The Tigers who made their classic album "Savage Music" available on iTunes and they even included the song "Religion for the Hungry" which was non-album b-side which I do have but I never posted it on the blog before. The only other one I know of is a little-known California band called One Legged Bob who only ever released one 4-track 7" in 1996 called "The Unbearable Lightness of Bob". They put out "Best of One Legged Bob" on CD Baby which has the 4 songs from the 7" and three unreleased studio songs with three live tracks. I have never posted the 7" before but, even though they made the recordings available, I might still post it because I think the record sounds much better than the version available on CD Baby.
Some of the releases that I can't complain about are
Rantanplans - Stay Rudel, Stay Rebel,
Crepitans - Tribulations,
Rocksteady Conspiracy - Rough and Sweet
Roy Ellis "Mr. Symarip" and the Transylvanians - Almighty Ska
Steady 45s - Meaning of Love single
Void Union - Return of the Super Vape
The Beat - Public Confidential (RIP Ranking Roger)
Scotch Bonnets - Come On Over
Eastern Standard Time - Time for Change
Culture Shock - Found it in a Skip (not great but still a must-have)
The Offenders - Class of Nations
Death of Guitar Pop - In Over Our Heads
Mark Foggo's Skasters - Ska Pig Returns
The Max's Kansas City compilation is also essential and Buck-O-Nine, Big D and the Kids Table, and The Planet Smashers also had some new releases in 2019 as well as the 90s band The Miggedys who haven't released anything since 1995. Get The Miggedys - Destined for Mispronunciation.
The one release I regret not being able to hear this past year is an unreleased song that was put out on a 7" by the band The G-Men called "Bottle of Dog".
Here's the songs I enjoyed this past year. When I listen to them all together I have my doubts about whether a few of them should be on here but I really do like them so they get to stay with no promise that you will like them.
This is a flexi that was included in an issue of Patches Magazine in 1980. It's Madness talking about their upcoming album "Absolutely". It starts out with the guys singing Engelbert Humperdinck's "Release Me" acapella then they play a few seconds of instrumental versions of "Close Escape" and "Solid Gone".
My copy here looks okay but it sounds pretty bad. That's a flexi for you. A much better version of the guys singing "Release Me" was included on the anthology "The Business (The Definitive Singles Collection) that was released in 1993. The other two fragments were not included in the collection and are only available on this release.
I tried posting swing music on my other blog but it wasn't well received. I guess there's no real place for it but it makes more sense to post it on a ska blog rather than on a punk/new wave blog so here we are.
The song "Hey Santa" was later re-recorded but this is the original and, in my opinion, much better version.
The b-side is only available on this single. It's a joke that only works the first time you hear it.
I love this single and I hope at least one other person out there appreciates it.
1 Hey Santa!!! (I'm not Sharin' My Baby this Xmas)
2 The Gift
This is upsetting. I have only ever seen one copy of this. I sold it to somebody and they returned it because it arrived in several jagged pieces. As rare as it was, there is now one less copy than before thanks to the US Postal Service.
Look at this. Can you believe this shit? On a few occasions I have received records in this condition and somehow it's always the really rare stuff.
This is a square double-sided flexi and it's indescribably rare. I could emphasize how rare it is by repeating the words "super super" or using the terms "ultra" or "mega".
The band was from New Orleans and they released two records that I'm aware of but I heard from somebody who knows this kid who heard from a guy that they recorded more than that. I'm not sure and I don't actually care.
I heard the song "Gun Rush" many years ago and had to track this record down. It is rare 2Tone style ska. The other songs on the record aren't ska except for "The Line" which is definitely ska-influenced. The other songs are surf / skronk / no-wave and I've heard that their other record is along these lines with no ska at all so I'm not really willing to pay the price their other record commands unless I hear it first.
Listen to this song "Gun Rush" and tell me you wouldn't try to hunt this thing down yourself.
Download it. Save it. It will likely be the only time in your life you will hear of this record. No matter how many copies they made, flexies don't survive very long. I got real lucky finding it in the condition I did.
1 Gun Rush
2 Surfin' Communist Guerillas
4 The Line
1 You are the Ketchup in My Coffee
2 The Confidants
3 Not What I'm Dreaming
4 I do Not Think I Would Have Some Fun
5 Orange is a Good Color for Love
6 Soldier Boy
7 I Was Riding Riding
8 Gentrification Skank
Kubie was a moderately successful glam rock / pub rock artist who put out a couple of albums in the 70s.
I'm guessing he tried to re-invent himself with this release. He even changed the spelling of his name from "Kubie" to "Kuby" for this one (even though it's spelled "Kubie" on the record itself).
He really changed his sound. The b-side is the same old pub rock that you would expect from him but the a-side is an impressive 2 Tone style ska classic.
This band was from Basel, Switzerland. They played post-punk with a heavy ska influence. This is their only release but both of the recordings on this single appeared on a compilation called "What's Happening" which also has two other songs by Man Without Future, one of which is also a ska song.
I do have the cassette and I'll try and post it soon.
Blue Beat in My Soul (2001)
1 Godzilla - Yes, I'm Rocking
2 The Crooked Beat - New Complexion
3 Rudy Willy's Sound System - Rude Boy Invasion
4 The Bakesys - Grass is Greener
5 Somersault - Black & White Unite
6 Calamities - Clockwork Blue
7 Ska Trek - Lightning, Earthquake, & Thunder
8 Prince Nutty - Man on the Top
9 Schwarz Auf Weiss - Madchen die Jungs - Gegenssatze Ziehen Sich An
10 The Xplosions - Grey Skies
11 Kalles Kaviar - Perfidious Game
12 Ska't - Where are You From
13 Downbeat Snapper - How Should I Know?
14 Intensified - Treasure Island
Blue Beat in My Soul - The Second Step (2003)
1 The Magadogs - Come On (ext. version)
2 Maskapone - One Ticket Flight
3 beNUTS - Ska Summer Night
4 The Braces - The Designer Song (demo version)
5 Schwarz Auf Weiss - Full Flavour
6 Rebelation - Rockers
7 Dubplate 48 - Don't Cry Over Me
8 Western Special - See Them Drop
9 Luana Point - Les liaisongs Dangereuses
10 Go Jimmy Go - Push Me Out
11 Pama International - Love We Give
12 Downbeat Snapper - Walk Over Water (longer version)
13 The Dreamlets - Someday We're Gonna Love Again
14 The Liptones - No Way Out
15 Yellow Umbrella - Candela
16 Corey Dixon & the Zvooks - Runaway Love
17 Smoke Like a Fish - One in a Million
18 The Special Guests - Talking Out
This is a Dutch punk/ska band that released this one single and a song called "Slave" that was on a live compilation called Heel Erg Punk Vol.1, which I included in this download. Aside from that I don't know of any other recordings.
They had a mature sound for a young punk band. For fans of OPIV and Rancid's ska stuff. So much like Rancid that I'm willing to bet that the song "What it's Like" started out as a cover of Rancid's "I Wanna Riot" that morphed into its own song. I know that might not sound very promising but, like I said, they have a mature sound. It works really well.
A - What it's Like B1 - Trip to Heaven B2 - Vicious Circle * - Slave
1 Kingston 10 - Concordance
2 Steady Ups - Dub Disaster
3 The Speakeasies - Cardiac Arrest
4 The Mot!ves Project - Boy Next Door/Candy
5 Full Spectrum - Aravah
6 The Soul Stingers - China Dread
7 General Rudie - Rainy Days
8 The Empire All-Stars - Alone Again
9 The Delroys - Can't Stop Cryin'
10 The Debonaires - Tribute to Tommy McCook/Roland
11 Amusic Skazz Band - Jazzing You
12 Downbeat Snapper - My Woman
13 The Dynamos - Heartbreaker
14 The B3's - Devil Blues Boogie
15 The Tile Renters - One Last Time
16 The Legends of Brass - Horchata
17 Yellow Umbrella - Rise & Fall
18 So. Cal. Shocks of Mighty - Revenge of the Poon Poon
Lot's more stuff was put up on eBay today with lots more to follow. I really am getting rid of everything but it's taking a while to go through everything to see what I want to rip. A lot of things I'm just saving a song or two. A lot of the records I'm just ripping and saving as WAV files that I hope to actually listen to some day.