New York Beat Vol. 2
Breaking and Entering
This comp could also be subtitled “Moon Ska returns to their roots.” One of the first projects Moon ever did was the legendary New York Beat: Hit and Run, which was not only one of the first regional ska comps, but one of the first comps featuring US bands! Some 12 years later, virtually every region has been represented with a comp of its own, so Moon has returned to its birthplace for a brand new look at the New York scene.
Of course, having one of the oldest ska scenes in the country means that you’re going to come up with a comp studded with seasoned professionals. The Scofflaws contribute a great live version of “Man With the Golden Arm,” which evidently just missed the cut on their recent live album, and the band’s trombonist, Buford O’Sullivan, puts forth his best solo work yet on his “”When the Snake Gets His Way.” Skinnerbox show up with a beautiful ballad called “A Fine Romance,” once again showing off Django’s crooning, along with some jazzy guitar work from Dave Hahn. The Bluebeats also do a pretty ballad, “May I,” although theirs is in a more soulful, rocksteady mood. Stubborn All-Stars have a good time with “Baldman Jump,” a track that would have sounded right at home on their latest album. The NY Ska Jazz Ensemble contribute a stirring elegy for the late Defactos member and longtime NY scene stalwart Alex Montalvo (to whom the comp is dedicated) with their “Montalvo.” Other vets include the Toasters, the Slackers (with the really old track “Pedophilia”), the Insteps, Mephiskapheles, and the first album appearances of the NYC Ska Mob (featuring members of the Slackers, Stubborn All-Stars, and Skinnerbox) and the Moon Ska Stompers (an all-star aggregate first assembled to do music for Nickelodeon’s Kablam).
NY Beat 2 also features an impressive line-up of newer bands. I’m most enamored with Inspecter 7’s stunning 2Tone styled instrumental “Train Song,” which chugs along complete with train whistles, and One Groovy Coconut’s “New Wave Crashed,” with its deliciously ironic Elvis Costello-esque vocals. The Pilfers get into a smooth groove with “Kawaii,” featuring the inimitable vocals of ex-Toaster Coolie Ranx and the strong t-bone of ex-Bim Skala Bimster Vinny Nobile. Orange Street, who unfortunately broke up right as the comp was released, give a glimpse at what could have been with the sweet rocksteady of “Believe.” Other strong newcomers include Metro Stylee (although their singer still doesn’t do much for me), Edna’s Goldfish, and Red Rube.
All in all, NY Beat 2 does a great job of showing that the NY scene is still alive and well over a decade later. Moon will also be reissuing the original New York Beat: Hit and Run later this year, so newcomers will get a chance to see how impressively this already strong scene has grown. Also, make sure to check out each band’s favorite New Yorkism in the liner notes, the most amusing of which has to be Inspecter 7’s. Moon Ska N. Y. fuggin’ C., PO Box 1412, NYC, NY 10276, http://www.moonska.com