Ska (and More) Sunday

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Inspired by some recent comments (and needing something to listen to last night while I tried to figure out an annoying computer problem anyway), I found some examples of music I like on the web and have decided to include a few in a post.

Most of this music is ska, a form that originated in Jamaica during the late fifties/early sixties and pre-dates reggae, its more famous offshoot. Although ska goes in and out of popularity in "waves", it has popped up in various forms all over the world. (I even own a CD by a Czech group called Sto Zvirat, a live recording of whom you can listen to here.)

Enjoy the below list. Unless I state otherwise, it's ska.

The Specials

During its "Second Wave" of popularity, a major ska revival occurred among "skinheads" -- a group I must emphasize was decidedly against racism -- in Great Britain.

During this time, some musicians attempted a fusion between the punk rock and ska styles. The only band I think was really able to pull this off well was The Specials, who re-gouped during the 1990s. All I could find in the way of YouTube videos was from their earlier material, which, although it is good, is not as good as their later material, which I think shows more musical maturity and takes better advantage of Neville Staples's voice.

The below video of "Ghost Town", although not of one of my favorite songs, captures some of the band's "bounciness" and energy.

The Selecter

Another second wave British band, The Selecter, featured the beautiful vocals of Pauline Black, who sometimes had to dress as a man to sneak into some of the clubs for gigs. (She would sometimes dress in the same fashion for taped performances as in the second video.) As you will see, this ruse would probably have barely worked long enough or well enough to get her onto the stage, after which point ....

What were they going to do? Kick her her out?

Anyway, here's "On My Radio":

Of the two Selecter videos I have chosen, the above is much better, being notable for its very artistic use of black and white and its better sound quality. The second is "Missing Words". I include it only because I really like the song. Its audio is a little muted.

Laurel Aitken, and Bad Manners

This video featuring "Sally Brown" and "Skinhead" I'll have to listen to a few more times to make up my mind about it since it features a band I've never heard before, The Loafers, backing up Cuban-born vocal legend, Laurel Aitken. "Sally Brown" is often covered by ska bands, including by yet another second wave British band, Bad Manners, whose cover of "Wolly Bully" I like. (If you like that, take a listen to "Just a Feeling", too.)

The Adjusters

Here is yet another new discovery. The Adjusters, an American Third Wave band performs "Our Town". I own one album of this band, but this song is new to me.

The Pepper Pots

And here's another new group for me, The Pepper Pots, who hail from Spain at least according to one commenter. (Although they do sign off in Spanish. I'm not so sure about that, but I'll have to Google it later on.)

The song is, "I Can't Wait No More".

Some Non-Ska

I wouldn't call this "ska", but I still like Shaggy's remake of an old ska classic, "Oh Carolina". If I recall correctly, this made the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, but first (and longest) in Britain.

And finally, I'll toss out some more non-ska links: First, are a couple of reggae favorites from Jimmy Cliff, "Many Rivers to Cross", and "The Harder They Come". The last is jazz -- Jane Monheit singing "Please Be Kind".

-- CAV


Joe said...


Try also The English Beat (known as just The Beat inthe UK):

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for the tip, Joe. I'm listening to it now as I wait for my lawnmower to de-flood before I cut the grass.

Myrhaf said...

Out of all those bands I loved The Selecter. That's a band whose CD I'll buy. The Pepper Pots are mediocre singers. Jane Monheit apparently thinks she is a better songwriter than chumps like Gershwin, Berlin and Mercer because she throws out their melody and makes up her own. (As a songwriter that really bugs me.)

Gus Van Horn said...

The way you phrased your criticism of Jane Monheit gave me a chuckle, although I enjoy much of her singing. (Were I more familiar with the songs she is covering, I might enjoy it less, though.)

I'm glad, at least, that you did enjoy the Selecter.

Unknown said...

Yo, Gus, the song by The Adjusters is on their first album, The Politics of Style, which in a fine coincidence I got two days ago.

SecFox HQ said...


I'm a huge Jimmy Cliff fan, so I was glad to see you liked some of his works. I'll listen to all those you mentioned. Thanks for the tips.

Gus Van Horn said...

Needless to say, I'm jealous of Adrian.

And I especially recommend the first Jimmy Cliff video to Blair, if he hasn't been to Jamaica before.