THE BEAT FT. RANKING ROGER: Bounce

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The Beat are best remembered for a string of hit singles at the height of 2-Tone/ska boom started in the UK back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. These included a cover of  Smokey Robinson’s “Tears Of A Clown,” “Mirror In The Bathroom,” and “Save It for Later.” They split-up in 1983 and now there are two versions of the band, one led by Ranking Roger in the UK, and another by original vocalist/guitarist Dave Wakeling, under the name of the English Beat in North America. This version is the one founded around original vocalist/toaster Ranking Roger, who is joined by his son Ranking Junior.

“Walking On The Wrong Side,” which was the first single from Bounce has the sound and feel of their original music, just maybe not as frantic sounding as the first album, more like heading into their last one. “Busy Busy Doing Nothing” is next and it carries on with that old school vibe and makes you want to get up and dance, which is a wonderful thing. “Walking On The Wring Side” and “Fire Burn” are two songs that really show the strong lyrics and political side of the band that the Specials and the Beat never shied away from. “Talkin’ About Her” has a nice relaxed vibe that gets you swaying side to side to, then you get the upbeat “Side To Side” with a faster beat that grabs your feet and off you go skanking around the room. The album ends with “Close The Door,” a smooth track that is a more traditional ska song, a bit slower and with a sinewy groove that will surely grab you and get your head swaying from side to side. Ranking Roger’s vocals are as smooth and strong as ever on this album and you can hear the fun he is having here, you can feel it coming out of the speakers and encompassing your ears.

After all of these years, I never would have believed that I would be listening to new music from this band, but I am so happy to have the opportunity to have this release. If you would drop this into a mix of their older albums, you might have trouble picking out the new songs, and I can’t give this album better praise than that.

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Various: Sell Your Soul…To The Cat: CD

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It’s a 22 track album featuring 22 different bands from Black Cat Records.
It’s a very good collection because each track is so unique, with smooth transitions to each track, it’s like one band did it entirely on their own, while incorporating different styles. So many different sounds are on here, from high energy, guitar heavy rock to more of a Latin feel, and more. Chris Murray Combo’s “Big Love” is very beachy, tropical sounding, it’s bouncy, it’s fun, and it’s smooth. All the vocals are clear, smooth, really pronounced, the music part of the tracks is well balanced, and there isn’t any competition between the vocals and music. It’s a fun album that gives you a taste of what all the bands are like. Almost all the tracks are high energy, not in your face, well one of them is borderline screamo, and the lyrics are all nice and clear so you can understand the words. Trashed Idols’ “Loveless” is a really fast paced, high energy song. Vic Ruggiero and Phil Nerges’ “Tampa Road” is a story song with a good story line, it reminds me of those old movies from the 60s. I think he’s telling a story, not so much in a song, but in words with music mixed in, it’s a really good track. The Darlings’ “Where Do We Go” is high energy, good balanced tempo, and I feel the passion, the power behind the song, it reminds me of the rocks songs from the 90s. King Django Quintet’s “Reason” has more of a Latin and something else feel to it, it’s high energy, and is fast paced lyrics. Its bouncy, it’s really good nightclub dance music; it has an urban feel to it. Hola Ghost’s “The Man They Couldn’t Hang” also have that Latin feel, it’s not as fast paced, but it does have a nice tempo none the less, and it’s dark sort of, but it’s a good story overall. David Hillyard and The Rocksteady 7’s “RNA” is more of a Latin jazz combo, it starts off slow, but it’s a nice slow, it lures you in by being smooth. It has a nice smooth trumpet that’s been muted to give it that nice Latin full sound, it’s a slow dance song that’s all instrumental, and it’s so good. It’s a nice outside dancing track.
All in all, a great collection of diverse music that is still cohesive and entertaining. Something on here for everyone and this will be played a lot.

 

Review by: Amy East

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BAD MANNERS: Rare & Fatty: CD

The longest running ska band of the 2-Tone era has put out this long-awaited reissue of their rarities collection and it is being reissued in its original U.S. sleeve, and features original and rare studio recordings that was originally released back in 1997. This release features the extensive sleeve notes from that American release, and the tracks were taken from Buster Bloodvessel’s personal vaults.

What a treat to hear songs that were too weird or out-of-place for their albums, and that’s amazing considering the crazy tracks that have been put out by them in the past. Some songs Like “Jezebel” would never have fit onto one of their albums, especially that one because it sounds nothing like them and would fit in with the pop music that was around back in 1983. It’s not a bad song by any means, it’s really quit good, just too out of the ordinary. “Boots” is their take of the song popularized by Nancy Sinatra, and a damn fine song too. Catchy, fun, and a ton of fun. The song “Devil’s Dub” is a fantastic dub mix, nice thick bass and a groove that won’t quit. “Double Barrel” is a great ska/reggae song that makes you want to dance to. “Help Me” has a great beat and is one of my favorite songs on here. “Elizabethan Reggae (Original Version)” is one song that I can play over and over again. just a classic tune. “Night Bus To Dalston (Original Version)” is taking the piss out of Madness’ “Night Boat To Cairo,” but is an ace tune all on its own. It will get you dancing around your home.

What a treat for fans of Bad Manners, a look into the weird and wonderful collection of sings from the weird and wonderful Buster Bloodvessel. Not the album to start out if you’ve never heard them, but an essential to hear another side of the band.

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BAD MANNERS: Return Of The Ugly: CD

Fronted by Buster Bloodvessel (born Douglas Trendle), this ska band was formed in 1976 while the members were together at Woodberry Down Comprehensive School near Manor House, North London. This deluxe edition of this classic 1989 album is packaged as a digipak with picture disc CD and booklet. This was their sixth album originally released on Bluebeat Records in 1989. The album features the indie hit singles “Sally Brown,” “Skaville UK,” and the UK Top chart hit “This Is Ska.” Added as bonus tracks are the B-sides to the singles that were taken from this album including their respective 12” single mixes, plus live favourites like the title track, “Bonanza Ska,” and “Rosemary.”

On this album, Buster has assembled an energetic and highly entertaining collection of ska music that will have you (and maybe your neighbors) skanking from start to finish. “Skaville U.K.” is a rousing opening number which will get you up on your feet, and dancing all over your living room. As soon as you hear it, you’ll be singing along with “Sally Brown,” one of the best songs they’ve ever done. “Bonanza Ska” is a hilarious song, incorporating ska renditions of several well-known Western TV / movie themes.”Buffalo Ska” has a bit slower tempo, with an amazing trumpet solo. “Rocksteady Breakfast” has a nice reggae sound to it. Originally a compilation song, “Baby Elephant Walk” is an infectious instrumental which sounds gets your feet tapping. Add to this the great remixes, especially “Sally Brown,” which is even better in the remix, plus the great remastered sound, the interesting, and informative liner notes, what a great release.

Bad Manners was never the thinking person’s ska band, they just wanted to have fun, and have their listeners join and smile. This is one band that never falters, they just kick you in the ass and make you dance, so do yourself a favor and put this in your CD player, and try NOT to skank – I DARE YOU!

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ELECTRO PUNX: Doom With A View: CD

This one man band from Newcastle upon Tyne really does a great job of mixing things up on this eleven song album. You get punk rock, crust, a touch of ska and some electronic all on here.

Great gruff vocals, a wall of sound, guitars coming out of the mix, banging drums and a sense of having a good time while doing this all add up to an interesting release. Some straight forward songs “I’m A Leg – End”, “In Unity”, “Fight Night” and “Disease Or The Breeze”, the ska song “Time Bomb”, the electronic “Facefeck”, the doom song “Pain” and the rest of the songs with their mix of crust and anarcho punk all are well performed and have a nice edge that adds to the enjoyment of this album. You would never know that this is just one person, he does such a great job on the different instruments that it really sounds like a full band.

Grab this and check out a very diverse and intriguing collection of songs that will leave you wanting more

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BOURBON DK: Hooligans: CD

BOURBON DK was formed in the summer of 2010 and their debut E.P. entitled “Hooligans” was released in 2012. This punk band from Burlington, Ontario has created a blend of ska and oi mixed together by Jeff Cooper on vocals, Maximus Crime on guitar and background vocals, Eric McKay on bass and Adam White on drums.

“Hooligans” kicks off the CD with gruff and gang vocals, strong drumming and bass, and guitar playing that has energy to spare on this fast punk / oi blend. “Hate The Racist” has a touch of ska mixed in with the oi, a great and catchy chorus, and a definite statement in the lyrics that is hard to miss…I think that they don’t like racists…lol. “Pride Without Prejudice” continues the anti-hate message and is a great oi song with more gang vocals that dare you to not shout along to and great power in the playing. “Police State” is almost a total hardcore song in parts, but then the ska tempers that back down in speed, but the aggression is still there. “Drink & Destroy” has the mix of ska and fast punk, but not quite hardcore going and the slamming would be fantastic live during this song. “Fugly’s Basement” ends off the E.P. starts with a nice slow ska beat then gets fast and turns into a great sing-a-long song that was a highlight of the album with the excellent playing and general chaos of the song.

The E.P. was filled with gruff, roaring vocals, blistering guitar, thick, rhythmic bass lines and destructive percussion, along with great lyrics and the bits of ska mixed to make it one of those repeat play albums that are getting harder to find nowadays. I can only hope that the quality that is on this six song E.P. continues and can’t wait to hear more from them in the future.

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DROOGIEZ: Glorious Days: CD

In 1993, from the remnants of Nuremberg, Germany’s punk band USK the four-piece outfit DROOGIE BOIS emerged, and after a few line-up changes the band called it a day in 1995. In the summer of 2008, three ex-members of the DROOGIE BOIS met at the wedding of one of them, and decided to give it another try, and put out their debut album, Glorious Days.

This fourteen track album starts off with “Patriot & Scud”, and the sound of an air raid siren lets you know that this is going to be a about war and is played like they’re trying to finish the song before the missiles hit. The gang vocals, slightly rough lead vocals get the song stuck in your head, along with the crashing drums by Tom Choniuk, the ripping guitar playing by Arne Marenda, and the bubbling bass from Lars Iversen. “Glorious Days” has great guitar playing that gets your head bobbing, great gang vocals and is super catchy, “No Masterace” is more of a sreaight forward punk song with a great message, “Coward” has tight playing, and “Do Not Give Up” has a ska beat mixed with the Oi!, and the rubbery bass is handling wonderfully, giving you a song that will make you want to dance. DROOGIEZ have the sound of the older punk rock from the late 70s and early 80s with their ability to capture the essence of those days in their playing. The band plays very focused and with energy on this album, giving us songs that will get you up and moving and with lyrics that will get you thinking…a great combination indeed. Some of the songs that made me hit the replay were, “TV Personality” is a great high energy cover of Billy Karloff’s original, “Down The Line” has a nice ska break in the song, and great gang vocals, “Sharpen Your Knife”, and “Sick & Tired”.

This was a great Oi! album that had traces of punk rock circa ’77 – ’81, some ska, great lyrics and playing that made it a pleasure to listen to. Glorious Days is one of those albums that will have you longing for the old days, but happy that bands like DROOGIEZ are here to give us a taste of real, honest to goodness punk that sticks with you like mosquitos in the desert.

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