You know, in my ‘proper’ day-job, I spend a lot of time on my own. To relieve the boredom, I often contemplate what I’d spend my millions on should I ever win The Lottery. It’s kinda sad possibly, that a flash car and mansion would appear further down my shopping list than a jukebox and an authentic, original, battered old Jamaican Sound System and a huge pile of first issue Ska 7” vinyl singles!
Like that’s ever gonna happen!
So for dreamers like me the world over, compilation albums such as ‘Ska Madness 2’ are a bit of a Godsend. (This one is indeed a follow-up to ‘Ska Madness,’ just to remove any doubt.)
That said, I would imagine that fans of the genre are, like me, probably in possession of many if not all of the twenty tracks (plus two bonus songs accessed via the Skamadness.com website.)
And it’s for that reason I would suggest that this particular compilation would be a great ‘entry’ to the genre for anyone yet to discover the infectious rhythms of Ska music.
Many of what could be regarded as ‘standards’ appear here: Desmond Dekker & The Aces with ‘Israelites;’ Bob & Marcia with ‘Young, Gifted And Black;’ The Upsetters and ‘Return To Django,’ and ‘Love Of The Common People’ by Nicky Thomas.
However, there are also some pleasant surprises – even for me! I had forgotten for instance how catchy John Holt’s ‘Ali Baba’ is – I had always felt his work a bit ‘wishy-washy’ but this track proves he can skank with the best. There are also two versions of ‘Wear You To The Ball,’ (later to be covered by UB40) from U-Roy & John Holt as well as the original version by The Paragons.
It was the latter of those two who first recorded the song made famous by Blondie ‘The Tide Is High’ and their version as well as the original version by Tony Tribe of the song most associated with UB40, ‘Red Red Wine’ both appear on this album.
So it’s ‘educational’ as well as supremely enjoyable!
It’s also good to hear Symarip again. (I do believe there is also a ‘Best of’ album of theirs recently made available.) They were the first Skinhead band to promote the Ska beats, and were / are vastly underrated. Their ‘Skinhead Girl’ as appears here is a particular treat – as is ‘Ba Ba Boom’ by The Jamaicans. I confess to not having this one already, and can now see where Shaggy got his inspiration from so many years later!
The songs on this album were compiled and sequenced by Rhoda Dakar of The Bodysnatchers fame, so we shouldn’t be surprised by the quality showcased here.
It doesn’t disappoint as a collection of songs from a glorious era – I’m just not sure who it is aimed at.
(Released through Spectrum Music and available now – February 2012)
(8.5 / 10)