Love and Affection: Ska in the Key of Love

Love and Affection: Ska in the Key of Love

Various Artists

Moon Ska NYC

Certainly, every major city has a radio station that plays “love songs, nothing but love songs.” If one of those stations ever expands its playlist to include ska, this compilation would be the place to start. In the tradition of last year’s Skankaholics Unanimous (chock full o’ songs about alcohol), Love and Affection is a theme comp, featuring, as the back cover says, “nuthin’ but ska love for you.”

Some of the catchiest tunes on this comp come from international sources. Mark Foggo’s Skasters, all the way from Holland, contribute “Fat Girl,” a 2-Toney toe-tapper guaranteed to get you singing along to inventive lyrics like “You’ve got the figure of a senator in Washington” (which they mean as a compliment!). Australians the Porkers offer their ode to love and incisors, “Perfect Teeth,” an upbeat, fun third wave track with a great Barry White-like spoken-word break. Transplanted Cannuck Chris Murray (aka Venice Shoreline Chris) teams up with the Secondhands for a smooth and soulful acoustic cover of the Toasters’ classic “Thrill Me Up” that could almost make you forget the original. Also contributing to the international scene are album openers the Screaming Orgasms from New Zealand, with the vaguely Asian-sounding “Ska Dong.”

That’s not to say, though, that the Americans are resting on their laurels, although a lot of them have taken this comp as an opportunity to cover their favorite love songs. Skinnerbox do a tasty version of Stranger Cole’s “Uno Dos Tres.” The New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble contribute a smooth take on the Wailers’ “Love and Affection.” Franceska try their hand at the Cornell Campbell (better known as Prince Buster) classic “(I) Don’t Want Your Loving,” while Critical Mass do an interesting twist on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia,” of all things. In the original tune camp, there’s some great soulful stuff from Bim Skala Bim (“Line to You”), Highball Holiday (“Ignorance”), and especially the Bluebeat Stompers (“Soul on Fire”). Lower East Side Buck (aka Moon President and Toasters’ singer Rob “Bucket” Hingley) sounds, well, a lot like the Toasters on “Davina (What You Doin’ to Me?),” which isn’t a bad thing. The absolute highlight, though, is the Articles’ jazzy, atmospheric “But Not for Love… ,” a tour de force with beautiful horn solos over sweet piano and bass lines that sound so good together you’d imagine that the instruments were in love with each other!

Tunes from Breadfruit, Regatta 69, Punch the Clown, the Toasters, and Warsaw (who really should have given co-writing credit to Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, after appropriating so much of “Pressure Drop”) , and Dub remixes of the Bim Skala Bim and Chris Murray tracks round out a strong compilation all `round. The producers even earn a little more credibility for dedicating the comp to the memory of Judge Dread, who, as they say, was “one of the most important people in ska music to bring the theme of fine romancing, nudging & winking to our music.” Love & Affection is well worth picking up, your ears are sure to fall for it! Moon SKA NYC, P.O. Box 1412, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276; http://www.moonska.com

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