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The following posts occured on a Yahoo club I run, and I thought the posters did a great job of making ska accessible for those not familiar with it. I learned new things!

Re: ska & other interests jenfrisbee99 (25/F/Providence, RI) 1/8/01 4:25 pm

Ska encompasses a lot of different sounds....some bands border on early 80's Britrock (think Madness, Selector, The English Beat, The Specials), some are more punk based (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are a decent mainstream example), while others have almost a reggae or calypso feel. Most bands include a very rude brass section as well as drums, often stand-up bass, guitar....it's a much more dramatic sound than most mainstream rock-n-roll.

Re: ska & other interests rude909 (28/M/Portland,ME) 1/12/01 3:58 am

Just a *ahem* brief history of ska... In the late fifties Jamaicans were really into the sounds of New Orleans jazz. American records were, however, difficult to obtain and expensive. The dj's wanted a home grown sound. Some guys who later became known as the Skatallites (and a couple others) blended Jamaican Folk (Mento) with New Orleans jazz, soul, R&B, and since most of these guys had earned their living doing big band work that too was an influence. The new style was dubbed "ska" for the distinctive sound hit on the off-beat. Ska came on the scene as Jamaica won it's independece from England so it became a super popular representation of nationality. Ska is the "father of rocksteady, grandfather of reggae", hence all of your favorite reggae artists releases from the early 60's are ska. The people who came to be the Skatallites were originally the house band for the record studios... So when singers like Bob Marley, the Wailers, Desmond Dekker, Toots & the Maytals, etc. came to record their music it was the Skatallites who played the instruments. In 1964-ish a terrible tragedy caused the Skatallites to split (until the 1980's). Along with an awful heat wave the drive fell out of ska and the people wanted slower tunes(begin "rocksteady" then "reggae"). Ska was kaput. But no! Jamaican musicians found they could make a better living in England. Ska found new life in England as the working anthems of Rude Boys and Skinheads (the same things at that point in history). Later (1978-the 80's) punk and Brit-pop influences brought about the 2-Tone ska of bands like the Specials, the Beat, and Madness (you know... Our house in the middle of our street...) The 90's saw a return to the traditional sounds of the early ska, as well as brazen attempts to blend other types of music with ska rythms from swing to punk rawk. (There were also a number of bands with ska influences being touted as ska in 90's pop). So now you know, ska, like reggae but faster with horns.

Re: welcome! intravenusdemilo (35/M/MA) 1/21/01 1:57 pm

not that I'm all 'Mr. Ska Expert' or anything, but here's my simplified take. The 'ska movement' has come in 3 'waves'...originally ska developed in Jamaica as a pre-cursor to Reggae. The Skatalites (who still play around fairly regularly and are well worth seeing) are generally acknowledged as the pioneers. Other 'legendary' roots artists include Desmond Dekker, Toots and the Maytals, Alton Ellis, and early Bob Marley. In the late 70's, the 2-Tone 'ska revival' took place in Britain (coinciding with the punk movement). Bands like the Specials, the Beat, Madness, the Selector, and Bad Manners were the 'big names' of this movement. The sound was a bit edgier than the original stuff. That leaves today's ska scene, which is commonly called the 'Third Wave'. Within today's scene are roots oriented bands (Skavoovie and the Epitones being a classic example), and there is also the whole 'ska-core' sound (pioneered by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones), which is basically 'thrash ska' (not my favorite). I would highly recommend getting ahold of the first album by the Specials (self titled) - it is a great tutorial on the 2-tone movement.