Thursday, May 16, 2013
The Specialized 2 - Beat Teenage Cancer compilation is now available as a pre-order! The brainchild of Paul Williams, author of "You're Wondering Now The Specials from Conception to Reunion" and admin of The Specials fan website, the double CD collection features 44 unique and diverse covers of The Beat's entire song catalog. Sales of the compilation and proceeds from a series of live shows (including a 3 day festival this fall headlined by Ranking Roger's version of The Beat) are all slated for the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) in the U.K.
The Specialized project, was conceived by Williams in September 2011 after he watched a TV program about young people with cancer in the UK. At that point, The Specials had just played a prestigious gig at The Royal Albert Hall in aid of the TCT charity. This inspired Williams to come up with the idea of an album of cover versions of songs by The Specials recorded by modern day artists. This was born "Specialized- A Modern take on Specials Classics."
Like its predecessor, this compilation has the full support of members of The Beat. Both Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger have tracks on the album --Wakeling has re-recorded "Mirror In The Bathroom" and Ranking Roger appears with Hunt Emerson's band The Spritely Allstars (Emerson is the designer of the Beat girl logo) on the track "Two Swords (Majestic Mix)." They have been joined by other 2-Tone era stars Neol Davies and Charley Anderson of The Selecter and Rhoda Dakar of The Bodysnatchers who have also contributed songs. The album also highlights the best current ska, reggae and rock bands playing in the U.K., Australia, Czech Republic and the U.S. (featuring songs from Buford O'Sullivan and my band Bigger Thomas).
Below are two video track samplers, as well as a short snippet of my band's version of "Sole Salvation."
Here is the full track listing for the double CD. It will also be available as a digital download with extra tracks via iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon and Spotify. There is a rumor the compilation may also be issued on vinyl.
1. Mirror in the bathroom - Dave Wakeling of The Beat
2. I Confess- Ed Rome Ft.Bella
3. Save It For Later- Nick Welsh
4. Can’t Get Used To Losing You- The Skanx
5. Best Friend – Bluebird Parade
6. Two Swords –Dirty Revolution
7. All Out To Get You- The Values Ft.Neol Davies
8. Jeanette- The Funaddicts
9. Sugar & Stress – The Humanitarians
10. Wah! (Get A Job)- Buford O'Sullivan meets Ruff Scott Ft.The Chronic Horns
11. Hands Off …Shes Mine- The Talks
12. Doors Of Your Heart – Big Fat Panda
13. Too Nice To Talk To- Rhoda Dakar ft.Phill Jupitus, Joe Howard & French Faze
14. March Of The Swivelheads –A.K.C
15. I’m Your flag – The Amphetameanies
16. Click Click – This Modern Youth
17. Big Shot- Addictive Philosophy
18. Cheated – Dubskamen Ft.Percydread
19. The Limits We Set – Katalina Kicks
20. (Czech) Toast - The Chancers
21. Ackee 123 – The Stiff Joints
22. Rough Rider –Button Up
1. Two Swords (Majestic Mix) –The Spritely Allstars Ft.Ranking Roger
2. Ranking Full Stop- The Splitters
3. Psychedelic Rockers – Ska Face
4. Drowning – Demelza’s Tea Party
5. Twist & Crawl – Bombskare
6. Rotating Head- Esperanza
7. Get A Job- The Mellowmen Ft. Tom 2Tone
8. (Hit the) Jackpot - Swagga Ft.Darren Fordham
9. Which Side Of The Bed? – Erin Bardwell Collective
10. End Of The Party- Lucy Dean Ft.Ska-Toons
11. Tears Of A Clown – The Kosmos
12. Noise DUB – The Rough Kutz
13. Stand Down Margaret – Robb Johnson,Steve White & Friends
14. Whine & Grine - The Simmertones
15. Hit It- Smiling Ivy
16. Sole Salvation- Bigger Thomas
17. Spar Wid Me- Andy Perriss Ft. Gary ‘Dada’Brown
18. Monkey Murders – Dubtonik
19. Over & Over – Butterfly Collective
20. Ago Talk – The Pressure Tenants
21. Walk Away- Urang Matang
22. Mirror In The Bathroom (Acoustic Mix)- The Acoustic Theatre
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Watch "Steal Away" -- Rare, Unreleased 90's Indie Film Featuring Music By Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Bim Skala Bim and more Boston ska bands
The Internet has unearthed another rare ska gem! A rare and unreleased full length indie film from the early 1990's titled "Steal Away' directed by Jack Sherman and staring Dan Vitale (in a classic Bouncing Souls t-shirt), Vinnie Nobile and their Bim Skala Bim bandmates has just surfaced.
Even better, the film includes a sweet soundtrack of notable Boston-based ska music by Bim Skala Bim, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Steady Earnest, bop Harvey and more. The film synopsis below:
"An underground saga that weaves the Boston Music scene into a semi-operatic, neo-realistic love/hate struggle. Dan, (Dan Vitale of Bim Skala Bim and Steady Earnest) is a poor, down-on-his-luck singer/activist spurned by his girlfriend Karen (Karen Moskow.)
The star-crossed couple battle it out over many difficult issues like dominance, quality time, and the price of true artistic expression. Karen's father, Police Sgt. James Goldman, (Mr.Jimmy Miller- rockstar producer of The Rolling Stones, Traffic, Blind Faith, and Motorhead) has never liked Dan or the idea that he has dated his daughter for the last three years. Tempers begin to boil as Karen's new boyfriend Matt, (Ted Vitale, WHAT Theatre Wellfleet, MA) and the Goldmans realize that Dan may have something to do with Karen's untimely disapearance, and the search is on.
The awesome punk/ska and reggae soundtrack features performances and music from many of Boston's most popular bands: Bim Skala Bim at Fort Apache Studio, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at TT The Bears Place, Dogzilla at The Paradise, Human Nature at the (now defunct) Channel Club, Steady Earnest and many more!"Watch the full film in its entirety for the first time below!
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra Preview First Single From New Album "The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius"
In the Spring of 2011, Lee Thompson and Mark Bedford, two founding members of Madness, met at a rehearsal studio in London with the idea of playing - and paying tribute to - the 60's Jamaican ska and reggae music that had inspired them as teenagers to start the band. They enlisted an assortment of musicians (including Thompson's brother-in-law) whose playing they respected and with whom they enjoyed playing. The original goal was to have fun; do a few gigs; and take it from there. However, The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra quickly took on a life of its own. The gigs were well received and the next logical step was to try and capture the energy and passion of the live shows on tape - old school JA style.
The band convened at The Ironworks in Brighton, UK, home of Mike Pelanconi (AKA Prince Fatty) who is famed for his ability to capture the authentic sound of the Studio One sessions of 60's and 70's era Jamaica (see photo of Thompson and Pelanconi mixing the album below). The recordings sounded so good, that Dave Robinson, founder of Stiff Records (Madness, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury), got involved and suggested a guest vocalist. Enter UK reggae singer and producer Bitty McLean who contributed his vocals to the first single, a cover of Desmond Dekker's hypnotic track "Fu Man Chu" which is being released on May 27th.
With other songs in the can by reggae legends John Holt and Lyn Tait, as well as versions of King Curtis’ "Soul Serenade" and Lalo Schifrin’s "Mission Impossible," the band is ready to release "The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius" which is named in tribute to the woman who opened and operated the Alpha Boys School in Kingston. Jamaica which offered education, musical training and opportunity to several of the earliest Jamaican ska musicians including Don Drummond.
“The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius” will be released on June 11th 2013. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon in the U.S. and Amazon in the U.K. In the meantime watch a video below for "Fu Man Chu" which was directed by Robinson (who also directed many of the early videos for Madness).
Friday, May 3, 2013
Its fair to say that The Face changed the publishing industry forever. Launched 33 years ago this month by Nick Logan with Jerry Dammers of The Specials on the cover of the inaugural issue, the magazine covered topics that had previously been dismissed by the traditional UK music press as lightweight and inconsequential. More importantly, Logan and The Face took a high-minded approach to celebrating the style trends of early 80's youth culture, including 2-Tone. And while that might not seem particularly revolutionary in the digital age in which we live in now, it was during the early 1980's in the U.K.
After a bumpy start, the magazine was also hugely successful. By appealing to an emerging ‘aspirational’ market, The Face opened up the magazine industry to much broader audience. It also made an art-form of its covers which helped drive style trends throughout much of the '80s and early '90s. Logan (who also founded Smash Hits before launching The Face) was inspired to start the magazine by 2-Tone. He was quoted in a recent retrospective about the first issue of the magazine with Dammers on the cover in The Guardian:
"This was the launch issue. I had been advised that “The Face” was too abstract, and I should have the word monthly in the title, and I knew I could find something more current for a first cover than the Specials. But they embodied everything the magazine aspired to – they had a look, a passion, and great music – so there was never an alternative. In a sentimental way too, I owed 2 Tone a debt for the inspiration to pursue the idea. And, as it was my savings at risk, I could call it what I liked – after all, the Face was to be my escape from a career where too often I struggled to explain myself to publishers or committees. No focus groups here: I was purely, wholeheartedly, following instinct."Listen to an interview Logan did with The Guardian here and read a great interview Logan did about the founding of The Face here.
After the initial Dammers cover issue, Logan featured other stars from the 2-Tone stable on three covers alone in 1981 -- Suggs of Madness (January 1981 cover issue), Ranking Roger of The Beat (June 1981 cover issue) and Terry Hall of The Specials (July 1981 cover issue) as well as Fun Boy Three (April 1982 cover issue). See the covers below.
Friday, April 26, 2013
There is a great story in PhillyBurbs.com about the 33rd anniversary of The Hooters very first show in the Philadelphia suburbs in 1980. It also includes an excellent interview with the band's drummer David Uosikkinen. The band, which also features co-fromtmen Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman is playing a reunion show tomorrow night at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia.
The Hooters started out as a bar band playing punk-influenced reggae and ska cover songs and took their name from the melodica (AKA: Hooter) that was featured on many of their songs. Their very first recording, was a demo of Don Drummond’s ‘Man In The Street’ which was played a lot on local radio though never released commercially. I didn't know at the time that it was a cover, but I remember thinking it was an amazing song. Only later did I make the connection that it was a great version of what has become one of my favorite Don Drummond/Skatalites songs.
Check out live versions of "Fighting On The Same Side" and a rocking version of "Man In The Street" recorded in 1982 which really give a sense of the bands great reggae and ska meets rock sound and of the kind of local draw they had in Philadelphia.
The band became so popular in the early 80's that they opened for The Who's farewell tour concert show in September 1982 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on a bill that also included The Clash. After taking a break following this show (during which Bazilian and Hyman wrote songs for Cyndi Lauper's debut "She's So Unusual" including "Time After Time"), the two frontmen reformed the band with Uosikkinen and new members.
It was this version of the band would go on to record and independently release the album Amore which included ska and reggae influenced versions of their original songs. This led to them signing a deal with Columbia Records and they re-recorded a few of their ska sounding songs as rock songs on Nervous Night and went on to MTV fame.
Once again it is interesting to see the way ska and reggae has really influenced and changed the sound of so many bands. Frankly, I've always been disappointed that The Hooters didn't stick with the ska and reggae sound they started off with. If they had, they could have been responsible for bringing the sound into the mainstream and on to American radio.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Viva Ska Vegas returns to Las Vegas this May 4th with a line-up of California-based 3rd wave ska bands that represent an entire era of music that has come to define the sound of American ska.
The one day festival on Saturday May 4th at the Henderson Events Plaza is headlined by Orange County third wave ska band Reel Big Fish (RBF) and pulls together acts from across California who have contributed greatly to the ska scene and continue to stay faithful to it. In addition to RBF, the 10-band lineup includes notable bands like The Chinkees (fronted by Mike Park of Skankin' Pickle and Asian Man Records fame), Let's Go Bowling (one of the original American ska bands who formed in 1986) and The Skeletones.
Tickets starting at $22 are now available on the festival's website.
Monday, April 15, 2013
The Selecter performed their first U.S, show in more than a decade this past Saturday as part of the Coachella Festival. In case you missed the live feed on YouTube, watch 20 minutes of the band's set below, which focused exclusively on songs from the album "Too Much Pressure" including the following tracks:
Three Minute Hero
They Make Me Mad
Train To Skaville
Carry Go Bring Come
On My Radio
Too Much Pressure (Pressure Drop)
The band will be playing a series of shows across the West Coast of the U.S., before returning to play at the Coachella Festival again next Saturday April 20th. The remaining tour schedule is below:
April 15th - The Glass House, Pomona, CA with Lee 'Scratch' Perry
April 16th - Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA with Lee 'Scratch' Perry
April 17th - Ace of Spades, Sacramento, CA with Lee 'Scratch' Perry
April 20th - Coachella Festival, Indio, CA
April 21st - Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ