Friday, April 11, 2008

Why I Love Ska

Welcome to Marco On The Bass. After reading and visiting hundreds of other blogs dedicated to all types of music and taking full advantage of all the amazing music that so many other people have kindly shared with the musical blogosphere I have decided to give back. Once I figure out how to share mp3's from my collection I will start posting them here. In the meantime this is small step forward for me.

After nearly 20 years as a bass player in a ska and reggae band called Bigger Thomas I have amassed a sizable collection of ska and reggae music and memories. I've seen hundreds and hundreds of shows as well as gotten to meet and perform with many of my musical heroes. For my very first post I want to share some music that made me who I am as a bass player and a fan of ska and reggae.

These bands and songs are responsible for my musical education and still inspire me to this day:

The Specials: To this day they are the be all and end all of what 2Tone meant to me. The idea of the band meant as much to me as the music and it was the template for starting my own band, Meeting Lynval Golding and opening for bands he played in is still a thrill for me. That he is a lovely fellow and gentleman reaffirmed my belief in humanity. Note that David Steele from The Beat is playing bass in the video of "Do Nothing" below.

The Beat: The band that I have always wanted to be in from the first time I heard I Just Can't Stop It. I have David Steele and his unorthodox mix of reggae and punk bass playing to thank for picking up the bass guitar in the first place. I have modeled my bass playing on his. To this day the best show I ever saw was REM and The Beat at the Fountain Casino in Aberdeen, NJ on April 24, 1983. The experience of that show is followed closely by meeting and opening shows for Dave Wakeling's English Beat the last few years.

Here is a Westwood One Radio broadcast of The English Beat taped onto open reel, then recorded to cassette to edit out the commercials.

1) Get A Job (6:37)

2) Tears Of A Clown (3:27)

3) Twist and Crawl (2:25)

4) Save It For Later (3:18)

5) Mirror in the Bathroom (5:32)

6) End Of The Party (3:45)

7) Rough Rider (5:22)

8) Tenderness (4:06)

Bim Skala Bim: In my opinion the best American ska band ever (along with The Untouchables) and the 2Tone influence is unmistakable in early songs like The Key, Jah Laundromat and Solitary Confinement from their first self titled album. We played a number of shows with them in our early days at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. For my money Vinnie Nobile is the world's best trombone player and his distinctive sound makes the band. Vinnie now plays with the reformed Pilfers.

Here is a link to a download of Bim's 1995 album "Bones"

Here is a link to a download of Bim's 1989 album "Tuba City"

Bad Manners: One of the best live 2Tone ska era bands of all time. I wore out my first copy of their self-titled LP and songs like Lip Up Fatty, Inner London Violence, Special Brew and Lorraine were the soundtrack of my teen years in high school. I saw them at the Ritz in New York City with my friends in August 1984 and it still ranks as one of the most memorable live shows I have seen. Buster and his band of free spirits really knew how to entertain. Later we opened a few shows for them and just played a show with them at the Filmore East (AKA Irving Plaza) a few weeks ago. Buster remembered us and invited our band to share his dressing room. He is such a down-to-earth and level-headed person.

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