The Ska Parade: Runnin’ Naked Thru the Cornfield
A to Y
Ahh, California. Land of shameless self-promotion. Where you can make yourself a celebrity simply by buying a billboard. The more hype, the better. The hosts and producers of the Ska Parade radio show eagerly subscribe to this point of view. Doubt it? Log onto any Internet ska discussion group, and you’re bound to find several self-congratulatory postings disguised as playlists for the Ska Parade Radio Show. Oh, you’ll find the playlist, once you’ve weeded through pages and pages of hyperbole about how great the hosts are, advertisements for their various products, and begging for ska fans to help them get syndicated at other stations.
Among this “discussion” (some would call it “spam”), you’ll most certainly have seen solicitation for Runnin’ Naked Through the Cornfield. Heck, it even sounds like a good buy, when they boast “25 tracks, 17 bands, 74 minutes of music!! *includes 24 page full color booklet!” You might even be inclined to believe them when they say the comp is “THE CHIEF PRECEDENCE IN THE HERENOW OF SKA AND GROOVIN’ MUSIC! ORDER NOW!!!!”
Don’t believe the hype. While there is some really good stuff on Runnin’ Naked Thru the Cornfield, there’s also plenty that you won’t want to give a second listen. It ends up working out to an almost-even balance of stunners and turkeys. In any event, it’s hardly the great masterpiece they’d have you believe.
There’s some stunning traditional ska from Boitovision (Hepcat’s Greg Lee, “Venice Shoreline” Chris Murray, and members of Unsteady) and Jump With Joey, tasty 2Tone-style stuff from the Equators, the Specials (redoing an old Fun Boy 3 tune), and especially the Donkey Show, and some tasty live Bim Skala Bim.
For all the good, though, there’s equivalent evil. For instance, there are the out-of-place tracks from non-ska bands like Marshall Law and Thee Spivies. Oh, to hear hosts Tazy Phyllips and Albino Brown tell it, “the Ska Parade continues to evolve the ska sound (and thereby avoid the fossilization, regurgitation, and stagnation which contributed to the downfall of the 2Tone era) by showcasing live performances by ska and non-ska bands,” but come on now. When bands as diverse as the Blue Meanies and the Slackers can fall under the ska banner, there’s more than enough variety to stick to the titular genre, instead of taking valuable compilation and air time away from bands on one of the few high-profile shows the genre has. But I digress. Adding to the annoyance factor are tracks from the egregiously overexposed Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris, and a pointless cover of “Take the Skinheads Bowling” from My Superhero (ANOTHER ska version of this one?).
Make your own decisions about this one. There is enough good stuff here that you probably won’t feel ripped off if you buy a copy. However, bear in mind that you’ll only be encouraging Tazy and Albino’s hucksterism. To wit, that “24 page full color booklet” they enticed you with includes 5 pages of Brown babbling about how great they are, 4 pages of autographs and photos designed to show you how cool they are, 5 pages of a useless “love poem” from Brown ranting about hippies (apparently, he reads this drek over the air regularly), and, yes, a two-page catalog of the other fine Ska Parade products you can purchase. Guys, take note… while you do deserve a lot of credit for pioneering ska radio in America, you aren’t all that, and neither is Runnin’ Naked Thru the Cornfield. A to Y Productions, P.O. Box 5766, Irvine, CA 92616; http://www.rudenet.com/skaparade, SKAPARADE@aol.com