Monday, May 26, 2008

Ska 101: Rude Boys on Parade

Image:I Just Cant Stop It.jpg

I can't believe I haven't featured ska on my 101 series, when I have managed to cover such esoteric things as folk-metal and freak-folk, but there you go......

Ska has a long history, dating back to Jamaica in the 1950's when Caribbean mento and calypso were combined with American jazz and rhythm and blues; Prince Buster and the Skatalites. Toots and the Mytals and Dandy LIvingstone made sure that it was THE music of Jamaica in the 60's and early 70's.

The second wave of ska, or 2 Tone Ska, began in the late 70's in the UK. The Specials, The Beat and The Selecter all consisted on black and white artists, a much needed influence in a divided United KIngdom at the time.

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2Tone ska artists were respectful to their elders, but they failed to fully recognise them as the authors of some of their most famous songs; "A Message to You Rudy" was actually Dandy Livingstone's, the Beat's "Rough Rider" was by Prince Buster.

The big question of course is can we call US ska in the early 90's the third wave, bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones, No Doubt, Sublime, Reel Big Fish.

My own view is that you need your head read if you think this is the case. That's like saying Green Day or Avril Lavigne are punk. The US, in both these respects has done a beautiful job of bastardising music that rose out of working class Britain, out of unemployment, of racial tension and pretending that can they copy the cool.

Yes, Rude Boys were cool, blending their own style with that of mods and skin-heads: Gwen Stefani definitely was not !

Here's Rock Revival's Top Ten

1 Carolina Prince Buster
2 Train to Skaville The Ethiopians
3 Message to You Rudy The Specials
4 Lip Up Fatty Bad Manners
5 Mirror in the Bathroom The Beat
6 Pickney Gal Desmond Decker
7 Malcolm X Skatalites
8 Pressure Drop Toots and the Maytals
9 Too Much Pressure The Selecter
10 Baggy Trousers Madness

Image: 2Tone/Go Feet

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