While 2-Tone was a label it has also been used to describe a sound. There were a number of bands on the periphery of 2-Tone in the UK who contributed to the larger scene and sound and who deserved a larger audience and a closer listen than they received. One of those bands was The Ska-Dows.
Tony Sibthorpe formed The Ska-Dows in 1978 right before 2-Tone broke big in the UK and their first recording "Apache" (a cover version of the old Shadows hit) was kicked around to all the major record companies in London. Finally, Chas Chandler of Animals fame who had started Cheapskate Records signed them. He loved the track so much he released it in its original demo form. Unfortunately it wasn't until late 1979 that "Apache" hit the airwaves and record stores and by then The Ska-Dows were accused of jumping on the 2-Tone bandwagon. Nevertheless, "Apache" was deemed record of the week on BBC Radio 1 and held the #1 spot for a week on the stations airplay chart.
There is no video of The Ska-Dows performing "Apache" but here is the original version performed by The Shadows:
The Ska-Dows had 3 singles released on Cheapskate Records, the last being 'Skas on 45' which was released after they split up. I've always been intrigued by the Skas on 45 single (which is a take on the Stars on 45 chart hit that had just come out at the time). Obviously the label saw a chance to cash in on the success and popularity of Stars on 45 (which those of you who grew up in the early 80's may or may not remember fondly).
Here is a video of the Stars on 45 medley of Beatles songs:
"Skas on 45" is a very rare 7" that features The Ska-Dows performing a medley of early 2-Tone hits including the The Specials version of "Monkey Man", The Beat's "Ranking Fullstop" and "One Step Beyond" and "Baggy Trousers" by Madness and more. This song that is not available on the very hard to find Ska-Dows anthology "Ska'd for Life." Here it is for your listening pleasure.
Side A - Skas on 45
Side B - Rhapsody in Buh