The Specials released their first single in July 1979 which is considered the spark that caused the ska-punk fire. Though they get credit with being the ones to make it more well known they were not the only ones to mix punk and new wave with ska and reggae. Aside from Arthur Kay having already released records with the 2 Tone sound before the Specials, The Slits, United Balls, and Plastic Bertrand were incorporating ska into their music as were many bands in the UK and throughout Europe. But in the US there were a few bands playing reggae and those that were were not mixing it with punk or new wave. Not yet anyway. But in California in 1978 there was a band called The Offs.
They mixed their punk music with r&b, soul, reggae, dub, and even German experimental music.
They later moved from the West Coast to New York but continued going back frequently to play shows in San Francisco and L.A. Here's just about everything they ever recorded before lead vocalist Don Vinil died in New York in 1983.
"624803 / Johnny Too Bad" 7" "Zero Degrees / Everyone's a Bigot" 7" "I've Got the Handle" alt. version from a 415 Records Compilation "My World / You Fascinate Me" 7" "The Offs First Record" (Their first, last, and only full length. The cover was designed by famed New York artist Basquiat and the original is for sale on eBay with more information about it. HERE'S the auction. 3 tracks from a live compilation called "Can You Hear me? - Music From the Deaf Club"
This live show is actually a compilation of 3 live shows: There are 20 tracks. The song "624803" was recorded July 5, 1980 and the songs "100 Dollar Limosine", "Johnny Too Bad", and the 2 Lou Reed covers "Sweet Jane", and "Heroin" were recorded March 1, 1980.
Skankin' 'Round the World vol.5 (1990) 1 Machtoc - First Time 2 Potato 5 - Spit and Polish (live) 3 The Liquidators - Riches to Rags 4 The Deltones - Silent River 5 Strange Fruit - Over the Border 6 The Latenotes - Yeah! Alright! 7 Gangbusters - No Fun 8 8 Tighten Up - Trouble in Town 9 Skapa - Ska Polka 10 Spy Eye - The Things I Feel 11 Lady Fun - Jah-Maica 12 The Speakeazy - We Need Enid
I think that those few of you who actually heard of Vegimite Reggae probably heard of them from their cover of Stairway to Heaven. It was not originally on this album but I have included it for those of you who don't have it yet. Again, there is not much information on this band on the internet. From what I've found they only ever recorded this one album, a single "Send it Out / Faces" (both of which are on this record), and another 7" "Too Many Years / Love is Gone". (Which is for sale on Music Stack right now for under $6. I would buy it and share it with you, but I'm buying other more interesting things for us.) If anybody knows anything about Vegimite Reggae (yes, VegImite, not VegEmite) - especially any other recordings they may have please don't be stingy with this info.
Trendy Ex-Hippies (1987) 1 Send it Out 2 Open the Door 3 Way Away 4 Rude Boy Rude Girl 5 For Love 6 Faces 7 Fat Girl 8 Illusions 9 I Need You 10 Latin Lover * Stairway to Heaven
[To be honest, I am not a big fan of this album. For being lumped into the ska / reggae category this album is quite lacking in either. There are a few really good songs on this record, but I think those songs would've been better off being released as singles without the need for this entire set. They certainly were a good band, but I'm not sure this recording represents them properly. Am I missing the point here?]