I was wholly unprepared for exactly how good this band is. When you get really involved in a certain scene, you tend to get certain ideas into your head. With me, the idea was that if I hadn’t seen a central Florida ska band yet, they must either be really young or just not very good. Admittedly, I’d had this prejudice in my head when I first saw the Strangeways. Let me eat some serious crow. The Strangeways, are in fact, one of the best bands on the scene, as their debut CD, Corporate Monkey, aptly shows.
The shorthand here is if you liked the (English) Beat, you’re gonna love the Strangeways. They have the same bass-heavy, peppy, soulful, harmony-filled sound the Beat had. However, at no time do they sound like a poor knock-off; if anything, they stand on equal ground. The Strangeways’ traditional roots run deeper than the Beat’s ever did. Songs like “What More Can I Say Now” and “Mango Man” almost lean to the rocksteady or even reggae side, something the Beat never really accomplished. The vocal harmonies of singer Supa C (who also toasts better than Rankin’ Roger, or just about anyone else, for that matter), bassist Googie Rankin, trumpeter Will Haynes, and drummer John Sinclair are a huge asset in that department. Also, I doubt the Beat would have had the balls to attempt a Miles Davis cover, but the Strangeways pull off a fine ska version of “All Blues.” Still, “Boggle Ina Dance” is definitely gonna put you in the mind of “Mirror in the Bathroom,” and “Lisa Brown Eyes” in that of “Tears of a Clown.” I’m not saying they sound exactly the same, just that they have the same spirit and energy.
Ultimately, the Strangeways have the talent and the vitality to go a long, long way. Don’t be surprised if they aren’t hanging around central Florida much longer… better catch ’em while you can! As I understand it, Moon has already picked up Corporate Monkey for rerelease… Prime 8 Records, 2429 South Osprey Ave., Sarasota, FL 34239