Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Equators Reunite For 30th Anniversary!: 2-Tone Era Band To Perform During London International Ska Festival
Ska fans rejoice! News out of the U.K. is that The Equators, the 2-Tone era ska band from Birmingham who were signed to Stiff Records and released the criminally overlooked cult album 'Hot' (produced by Rumours keyboardist Bob Andrews) in 1981, will perform during the closing night of the London International Ska Festival 2012 on Sunday May 6th! The band reformed late last year and have begun playing shows again. If you haven't bought a ticket yet, then this should inspire you!
The Equators were way ahead of their time. I remember borrowing a copy of 'Hot' from Steve Parker, the original guitar player of Bigger Thomas when we first met. He told me that he wanted our band to sound like the songs on this record. I remember listening to the album and wondering why I had never heard of the band or why they weren't more popular. The album captured an effervescent and upbeat 2-Tone ska and reggae sound that included rock and new wave as best represented by songs like 'Age Of Five" and their own fantastic cover of The Equals 'Baby Come Back' which should have been a massive hit. Have a listen:
Formed in 1977 by the brothers Bailey (Donald, Leo & Rocky), the offspring of Jamaican immigrants to England, The Equators were discovered by Stiff Records’ President, David Robinson, performing with another Birmingham band, The Beat (which shared The Equators’ Management team). Robinson, ecstatically impressed with the raw energy of their concert performance & the soulful innovation of their ska-pop-reggae sound, moved to sign the band to the famous Stiff Records label (home of Madness & Elvis Costello).
Stiff Records released their album during 2-Tone mania and it should have had the same level of success as The Specials, The Beat and The Selecter. In my mind they suffered from I call "Fishbone Syndrome". That is that they were an amazing band that was doing something way ahead of its time and that didn't fit preconceived notions of what black or white music should sound like. Instead it was a melting pot of different musical sounds performed by an all black band and it seemed to throw a lot of people off. That, and Stiff totally mismarketed The Equators as a reggae band when they should have been marketed as a ska band. Oh well...
Here is video of the band performing 'Mr Copper' from 'Hot" this past December during their first reunion show at the Hare & Hound in Birmingham (which is famous as the first pub where UB40 and other Midlands-based bands performed).
Below is video of the band's recent winter rehearsals performing 'I Get My Kicks' and "Break My Heart':