If you had the opportunity to see The Skatalites play at this year’s Lowell Folk Festival, then you know that ska is great, upbeat party music. The library has an excellent collection of ska, and we’ve just expanded our offerings with the following titles (record labels are in parentheses):
Blazing Horns / Tenor in Roots by Tommy McCook (Blood & Fire Limited)
Saxophonist Tommy McCook, who died in 1998, was one of the founders of the Skatalites. This disc actually combines two LP’s from different periods in McCook’s career. He is backed up by the famous session duo of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare on many of the tracks.
Alpha Boys’ School: Music in Education (Trojan)
An interesting compilation of tracks by musicians who attended the school in Kingston, Jamaica, including Don Drummond, Lester Sterling (who is still in the present incarnation of The Skatalites), Rico Rodriguez, and Tommy McCook. The first few cuts are mainstream jazz, while the majority of the selections are ska.
Studio One Scorcher (Soul Jazz)
Downbeat the Ruler: Killer Instrumentals from Studio One (Heartbeat)
Two very good compilations of ska and reggae. The sound quality on Downbeat the Ruler is surprisingly clean. Be sure to tie down your sub-woofers; the bass is thundering.
Trojan Rude Boy Box Set (Trojan)
Trojan Skinhead Reggae Box Set (Trojan)
More of the inexpensive 3-disc compilations that Trojan is famous for. Rude boy and skinhead reggae were offshoots of ska. Rude boy is considered a form of rocksteady, while skinhead reggae, as its name implies, grew out of the British working-class sometime between the Mods (think Quadrophenia) and punk. The late 70’s saw a revival of sorts with the British bands, Madness, The Selecter, and The Specials. Nowadays, most of us think of skinheads as right-wing xenophobes, but that isn’t always the case. See Wikipedia’s entry on skinheads for more information.
For more ska and rocksteady, try these discs: