NYC Ska Mob & Friends
Here’s a fantastic compilation sampling the great ska music coming out of the Version City studios in New York City, home base of such talented producers and performers as King Django, Victor Rice, and Agent Jay Nugent. The 18 tracks included here are a wonderful snapshot of an important and influential segment of the ska community.
Not content to just rest on the laurels of previously released material, NYC Ska Mob & Friends includes a wealth of new material from the usual Version City suspects. Chief among these are two collaborations between King Django and Rocker T. The first, “Wayfarer’s Prayer,” is a spiritual hymn with captivating harmonies and tribal percussion. The second is actually two tracks, as King Django’s soul stirrer “No Trial” leads directly into Rocker T’s rub-a-dub version “Not Guilty,” which featuring his masterful chatting. Other highlights include the Checkered Cabs’ soul stomper “Fight For Your Woman,” the Radiation Kings’ stunning “Murder” and dubby version of “NYC Blues,” and four — count ’em, four — tracks from the ever-stellar Stubborn All-Stars, but the most surprising tracks come from transplanted Montanans the Skoidats. While I was aware that the band had the chops to play the smooth, traditional sound, I certainly wasn’t expecting it from them, since they’ve built their rep on a compelling ska-Oi! hybrid. These tracks are a departure for the band, but one that I would love to see more of. The beautiful, soulful ballad “O.I.” is easily one of the strongest track on the whole record, while “Smash Your Fucking Head”‘s easy groove and percolating bassline belies its aggressive subject matter for a masterful counterbalance.
Winning numbers from Da Whole Thing, Rocker T, Victor Rice, and Crazy Baldhead wrap up this absolutely crucial document. Pick this comp up for a taste of some of the very best ska music being made today.
Triple Crown Records, 331 West 57th #472, New York, NY 10019; www.trescrown.com