Mashin’ Up the Nation
Best of American Ska Vols. III & IV
If you’ve been looking for a record that’ll help you figure out what all this “ska” hoopla is about, this would be a good place to start. Mashin’ Up the Nation, as the back cover shouts, features 21 bands from 12 states. There’s a whole lot of previously released stuff here (despite the back cover’s claim of “14 exclusive tracks,” most of those “exclusives” are remixes or demos of tracks that are already out there in some form), but as a primer, this excels. Indeed, any compilation that features tracks from Bim Skala Bim, Let’s Go Bowling, the Allstonians, Skinnerbox, Magadog, Mobtown, the Strangeways, the Toasters, Eastern Standard Time, Spring Heeled Jack, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, to name but a few, is an important document indeed.
Of special note: Dion Knibb and the Agitators (featuring the son of Skatalites drummer Lloyd on vocals) cover Jackie Opel’s “Turn Your Lamps Down Low,” the Pilfers’ Bad Religion-esque harmonies on “Generation,” Skinnerbox’s unique take on the Buzzcocks’ “Why Can’t I Touch It,” Johnny Socko’s tribute to the god of Baywatch on “Hasselhoff,” and one of the final tracks from the Defactos (who broke up after Alex Montalvo died in a tragic marine accident last year). Everything on this record is great, even though those with more complete ska collections have likely heard most of it. Still, Mashin’ Up is highly recommended, especially to new listeners — here’s what the hype’s all about! DVS Media, 9 Pearl St., Salem, MA 01970