Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pietasters Oolooloo 1995

Ska music represents a fairly small domain in popular music, but has proved to be more resilient than most would imagine. Ska was the late 1950s-early 60s precursor to rocksteady and then reggae. There are technical explanations for the sound of ska, but suffice it to say that ska sounds like reggae played real fast.

Ska dominated Jamaican music in the early 60s, and eventually morphed into reggae, which then stole the spotlight. The style was revived in the late 70s-early 80s, driven mostly by the 2 Tone Records roster of ska and ska-punk bands The Beat, The Specials, The Selecter, and Madness. I've heard and own some of those records, and they have a big fun party sound.

What I missed altogether was another ska revival in America in the 90s. I knew about No Doubt, but I didn't realize the breadth of reach of ska in the 90s.

So for Christmas my intrepid son-in-law goes all vinyl on me again and scores heavily with the Death LP (and DVD) and this killer 1995 Pietasters record. The vinyl is new, released in 2012 after a Kickstarter campaign to reissue this and several other ska records.

All that's fun, but it's gotta be in the grooves, as it were.

This record is good enough to recommend to someone as their introduction to ska music. They do credible covers of soul chestnuts Same Old Song and Can I Change My Mind, but the originals are the strength of the band. Something Better, Freak Show, Pleasure Bribe, Girl Take It Easy, Night Before, and Movin On Up are all killer, and if you aren't at least tapping your foot, your heart will probably explode. If you dance to the whole record (and you might want to), you'll need to be in shape.

The band sounds mostly like the ska-punk of the early 80s, but they also capture the 60s sound on a few numbers, including Can I Change My Mind and Biblical Sense. The horn charts are super-fine, and the band cooks. The vocals are good, party-boy soul shouting. If you ever counted yourself a ska (or reggae) fan, this is one to hear. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, and you're still reading, you really need to hear this record. You'll have a good time.

1 comment:

  1. Good to get a tip on some great ska. I always thought that some clever screenwriter would have a field day with a story based on the early days of Jamaican ska -- and what a killer soundtrack that would be. Thanks for commenting on my blog in December!