Monday, September 26, 2016

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Fall 2016 Ska Calendar #38

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

King Django, The Duppies, The Pandemics, Wake the Town

Don Pedro
90 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

The Selecter, Hub City Stompers, High School Football Heroes

The Gramercy Theatre
127 East 23rd Street
New York, NY
$41.50/16+

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Friday, October 7, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

Chris Murray, Boomshot, Todd Fausnacht (of The Snails), John Glenn Sound

Don Pedro
90 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Thursday, October 16, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

Desorden Publico, The Ladrones, The Rudie Crew

S.O.B's
204 Varick Street
New York, NY
$28

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Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

DJ Gorilla Fest w/Beat Brigade, Raise the Kicks, Ras Majesty and the New Vibration Band, Escasos Recursos, Blaire Alise and The Bombshells, Bodega Satellite, PrinceLionSound, plus DJ Ryan Midnight

Don Pedro
90 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

Vic Ruggiero and The Snails (Sam The Sham & The Pharaos cover set), The Othermen

Don Pedro
90 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Sunday, October 30, 2016 @ 8:00 pm

5th Annual Devil's Night Danse w/Mephiskapheles, The Pietasters, The Brooklyn Attractors, and Murphy's Law!

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Ave
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 Cassette Store Day @ Jump Up Records with Releases from The Toasters, King Stitt, Reggae Workers of the World, Danny Rebel, Rude Guest, Indonesian Ska, and an Incredible CSD Event in Chicago!

Saturday, October 8, 2016 is Cassette Store Day (see a list of participating stores here) and Jump Up Records is releasing a slew of really interesting titles to help celebrate the recent resurgence of this format (and I'll be damned if I haven't started collecting cassettes again--just last week I picked up used copies of The Scofflaws debut on Moon, as well as Derrick Morgan's Tougher Than Tough and The Deltones' Oddball Boyboth of which were licensed to ROIR by Unicorn Records; and I've also fed my cassette collecting beast by mail ordering some great new cassettes from Jump Up, such as The Crombies Dance Crazee, The Specialized Dance Crazy comp, The Brooklyn Attractors' The Move, NST and The Soul Sauce's Heaven is Here/Song for Rico, and The Specials Live at the Lyceum).

Here's what Jump Up is releasing on CSD 2016:

The Toasters Skaboom: This is first time this classic and hugely influential American ska album has been re-issued on cassette (with cool, reworked artwork) since Skaloid/Moving Target/Celluloid originally released it in 1987.

King Stitt Cool and Copasetic Selector Set: Recorded live in 2002 at the Legend of Ska concerts in Toronto, Canada, this set features Stitt chatting over foundational ska riddims with Ska Nick The Trojan at the controls.

Reggae Workers of the World Reggae Workers of the World: For your listening pleasure, Jesse Wagner of The Aggrolites, Vic Ruggiero of The Slackers, and Nico Leonard of Moon Invaders and Caroloregians got together and recorded twelve new tunes of old school reggay at Pum Pum Hotel Studios in Belgium.

Danny Rebel Boombox Sessions: Re-released for CSD, this is rough and ready acoustic reggae (for fans of Chris Murray, Bob Marley, and Toots and Maytals) recorded live and direct to an old boombox by Canadian Danny Rebel.

Rude Guest Lost Chicago Ska 1982-1993: This Chi-town band kept 2 Tone ska alive in the USA in the 80s and this release compiles all 16 songs they recorded and issued on a series of limited-edition cassettes back in the day.

Various Artists Soundclash Volume 1: This is a collection of Indonesian ska imported from Jakarta that features three of that scene's top bands--D”Jenks, James Steady, and The Ska Banton--playing traditional jazz ska, skinhead reggae, and modern ska!

All of the aforementioned titles can be found at participating CSD retailers or pre-ordered from Jump Up

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Also, if you're in the Chicago area on Saturday, October 8, 2016, be sure to check out this really extraordinary Jump Up Cassette Store Day event at Logan Hardware Records from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm with acoustic performances from Vic Ruggiero and Jesse Wagner, and King Tony, a live cassette DJ set with Chuck Wren, a CHema Skandal poster exhibition and cassette painting(!), plus Ska Brewing tasting and Dark Matter coffee! 


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Saturday, September 24, 2016

New Madness Video for "Mr. Apples" Off Upcoming "Can't Touch Us Now" Album!

Madness have recently released this very funny, entertaining, and well-done music video (wouldn't expect anything less from them, really) for the terrific track "Mr. Apples" from their forthcoming album, their eleventh!--Can't Touch Us Now (to be released in the US on CD and vinyl on November 4, 2016; you know I've pre-ordered both versions!). As you will see, the song is about a man torn between the extremes of moral goodness and vice...



If you haven't been paying attention--and I suspect this is the case amongst my countryfolk, since Madness rarely perform here (ahem)--over the past several years, Madness have been releasing some of the best music of their long and illustrious career. Check out my reviews of  2009's The Liberty of Norton Folgate (and its accompanying film by Julien Temple) and 2013's Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da if you need convincing.  The Nutty Boys have still got it!

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Pama International Returns with New Single, Upcoming Album, Shows, and UK Tour with Dead 60s!

After taking a seven-year break to work on other projects, Pama International is back on the beat with a new single (a fantastic, grooving reggae cover of Martha and the Vandella's "Heatwave" featuring Pama Intl's extraordinary vocalists Jewels Vass and Anna Uhuru, to be released digitally on October 14, 2016), a new album (Love and Austerity on Cherry Red Records/Happy People, to be released digitally and on vinyl in January of 2017--all tracks produced by Pama Intl songwriter/founder Sean Flowerdew and guitarist Lenny Bignell), and are playing upcoming shows with Zion Train, King Prawn, Dennis Bovell (!), Don Letts (!), Misty In Roots (!), and a UK tour with a recently reanimated punky-ska'n'reggae The Dead 60s (see "Ghostfaced Killer")!

Based on what I'm hearing on "Heatwave," we're in for lots more incredible music from Pama Intl in the months ahead. If you're in the UK, make sure to catch one of their upcoming shows...

Pama International Gig Dates
23.09.16 London: Trojan Thames cruise (sold-out!)
24.09.16 London: Garage w/Zion Train, General Roots & Solution Sound System
07.10.16 Swindon: The Vic w/Destination Anywhere & Shocks of Mighty DJs
08.10.16 London: Trojan - Trojan Records official club night - Heatwave launch party
26.11.16 London: Garage - w/Misty In Roots and Dennis Bovell
09.12.16 London: Garage - w/King Prawn & Don Letts
06.04.17 Glasgow: O2 Academy 2 supporting The Dead 60s
07.04.17 Sheffield :O2 Academy 2 supporting The Dead 60s
08.04.17 Birmingham: Institute 2 supporting The Dead 60s
09.04.17 Brighton: Concorde 2 supporting The Dead 60s
13.04.17 London: Electric Ballroom supporting The Dead 60s (part of The London Intl Ska Festival)
14.04.17 Liverpool: O2 Academy supporting The Dead 60s

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fast Takes: The Amphetameanies' "Last Chance Bordello" and The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra's "Bite the Bullet"


(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

The Amphetameanies Last Chance Bordello (CD, F and J Records, 2014): This is a bit of an older release--but new to me!--that deserves your notice if you missed it a few years ago. On Last Chance Bordello, Scotland's wonderful Amphetameanies crank out some fantastic, revved-up modern ska (check out "Be Yourself" or "Good One Go") that is often hilarious (like the parody of America in "Tales of the Arizona Highway Patrol") or playfully absurd (see "Horses for Courses"--a British expression meaning that different people are suited to different things or situations--whose sole lyric is "Horses fuck horses!"). But you'll find terrifically strong and creative songwriting throughout, enhanced with inventive touches (the Trio-ish Casio keyboard percussion of "The Haunting," the calypso rhythm of "Leaving You," or how the melancholy, Madness-like small masterpiece "Took Some Time" shifts between major and minor chord progressions). Thank god for lyric sheets--I thought a line in "House On A Hill" was, "the Commies are coming," like it was a throwback to the Cold War 80s, instead of "The cockney's are coming," which is really a song imagining the exodus of crude city-dwellers to higher ground after cities like London flood with the rising waters from global climate change. Closing out the album is the bittersweet "No Fun Tomorrow"--an "Enjoy Yourself" for the new millennium, as we collectively descend into our Orwellian, dystopian future.

The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra Bite the Bullet (CD/LP, Axe Attack Recordings, 2016): This is the excellent second album from Madness' saxophonist Lee Thompson and his top-notch compatriots, including Madness' bassist Mark "Bedders" Bedford (read The Duff Guide to Ska review of The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra's debut album, The Benevolence of Sister Mary Ignatius here), and like its predecessor is filled with a delightful mix of Jamaican jazzy ska originals (by various members of the band), which blend quite well with a choice selection of 1960s-era US/UK/JA pop music songs. Both sides start with great spaghetti Western reggae cuts, Bedford's "Bite the Bullet" and trombonist Bob Dowell's "Western Standard Time." And there are a load of what you would swear are old Jamaican cuts--but you'd be wrong--like "Feel A Little Better" (track 3 on side A, not 2), "I Am King" (which is track 2 on side B, not 3), "Step It Up Sister" (track 4 on B, not 2), and the sinister "Wickerman." Actual covers include the deadly cool funky soul instrumental "30-60-90" written and recorded by Willie Mitchell in 1968 (on the LP, this is listed as track 3, but it's really the second song on side A); the Southern soul ballad "Cry to Me" written by Bert Berns (Russell) and first recorded by Solomon Burke in 1962 (and later by The Pretty Things and The Rolling Stones); a completely winning Madness sounding version of "I'll Be Back," a John Lennon-penned Beatles deep cut on the A Hard Day's Night soundtrack, but not used in the film--I prefer it to the original; a Skatalites-like arrangement of The Coasters' 1965 B side "Hongry" written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller with great, expressive vocals by Thompson; John Barry's theme to the Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (which is track 3 on side B, not track 4); and Lloyd Robinson's and Harry J's 1968 often versioned riddim "Cuss Cuss." This record's really good--don't let it pass you by (and nice that the album was dedicated to the late DJ Derek!).

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Monday, September 19, 2016

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Summer/Fall 2016 Ska Calendar #37

The one and only Prince Buster. Rest in peace.
Saturday, September 24, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

The Toasters, The Pomps, Skarroñeros

The Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$15 in advance/$17 at the door
21+

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

NYC Ska Orchestra, Screechy Dan, and Deadly Dragon Sound System featuring Johnny Go Figure and Scratch Famous

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

The Selecter, Hub City Stompers, High School Football Heroes

The Gramercy Theatre
127 East 23rd Street
New York, NY
$41.50/16+

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Friday, October 7, 2016 @ 7:00 pm


Chris Murray, Boomshot, Todd Fausnacht (of The Snails), John Glenn Sound

Don Pedro
90 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

DJ Gorilla Fest w/Beat Brigade, Raise the Kicks, Ras Majesty and the New Vibration Band, Escasos Recursos, Blaire Alise and The Bombshells, Bodega Satellite, PrinceLionSound, plus DJ Ryan Midnight

Don Pedro
90 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Sunday, October 30, 2016 @ 8:00 pm

5th Annual Devil's Night Danse w/Mephiskapheles, The Pietasters, The Brooklyn Attractors, and Murphy's Law!

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Ave
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

New Rude Boy George Video for Bob Marley's "Iron Lion Zion"

Rude Boy George continue to create a series of incredible music videos in support of their upcoming album, Love and Dancing. Their latest is for an amazing version of Bob Marley's "Iron Lion Zion," recorded for the Specialized 5 - One Heart charity compilation, which benefits the Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK.



Also, make sure to check out their versions of other new wave classics that will appear on their album: Kim Wilde's "Kids in America," Soft Cell's "Tainted Love,"  The Cure's "Close To Me" and Wang Chung's "Dance Hall Days!"

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If you're in the NYC area, Rude Boy George are performing on a Rocks Off booze cruise this Sunday (9/18/16), along with Big D and the Kids Table, and The Ladrones.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mojo Feature on the Birth of UK Reggae

In addition to a feature on Bob Marley's eventful 1976 in JA, the September 2016 issue of Mojo contains a fantastic article on the late '70s home-grown British reggae scene wittily titled "Chant Down Albion." Using the April, 23, 1979 Special Patrol Group assault on the People Unite community center in Southall, London as a focal point (where anti-racist/fascist locals had fled a police riot after a National Front rally and an Anti-Nazi League counter-protest), the piece goes on to explain how the pervasive racism/oppression these black, British roots reggae musicians experienced from the police (who used the notorious Sus law as an excuse to stop and harass any non-white person), right-wing politicians, and many of their fellow countrymen led them to create some of the most powerful and political-charged reggae songs of the time. Highlighted acts/musicians include Misty in Roots (whose manager and studio engineer were seriously injured by the SPG attack--in addition, almost the entire band was arrested in the raid and their keyboard player left the band after spending several months in jail; Misty's recording studio was destroyed; and the SPG even smashed their records), Steel Pulse, Aswad, Dennis Bovell, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and reggae-loving punks The Ruts (Misty in Roots paid for their first recordings and "In A Rut" was the first release on the People Unite label; "Jah War" was a tribute to Misty's manager who was brutally beaten by the SPG).

There's one error to be aware of in the article--Rock Against Racism was not a campaign of the Anti-Nazi League, but its own organization that often held joint protests with the ANL.

Ska fans will also want to know that the free "Jamaican Explosion" CD that accompanies this issue contains a mix of familiar and somewhat obscure early 1960s material from Laurel Aitken, Prince Buster and The Blue Beats, Roland Alphonso, The Folkes Brothers, Byron Lee and The Dragonaires, Rico, Jimmy Cliff, Don Drummond, Lord Creator, Derrick and Patsy, and more.

Just a reminder--this is old-school media. There's no online version of the magazine. To read the articles, you have to buy a physical copy...

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Prince Buster RIP

Prince Buster and his great friend/collaborator
Gaz Mayall in Japan, 2003.
As many of you know, Prince Buster (nee Cecil Bustamante Campbell) died today in Florida at the age of 78. No cause of death was given, but he had apparently been in ill health for several years now (back in 2009 it was said that he had suffered a fairly debilitating stroke).

The Guardian has published a pretty comprehensive obituary and others, no doubt, will follow.

Prince Buster's legacy is enormous--it cannot be overstated how much of an impact he had on the creation and popularization of 1960s ska and rocksteady as both a producer and performer. And his music has inspired successive generations of fans and musicians worldwide (2 Tone might never have gotten off the ground without him; the first two hit singles for 2 Tone involved Buster originals: The Specials' appropriation of "Al Capone" for "Gangsters" and Madness' cover of "Madness" on the flip side of their tribute to Buster, "The Prince").

At some point in the near future, I'll write-up a more extensive tribute to Prince Buster (possibly an overview of some of his best recordings).

My deep condolences (and those of many others) go out to Buster's family, friends, colleagues, and fans. His music endures, but he will be sorely missed.

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Fast Takes: The Ruts DC's "Psychic Attack" Single and 1592's "Family of Choice" CD

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

The Ruts DC "Psychic Attack" b/w "Vox Teardrop (Instrumental)" (clear vinyl single/CD single/digital download, Sosumi/Westworld Recordings, 2016): While their last record, the amazingly good Rhythm Collision Volume 2 (2013)--check out songs like "Mighty Soldier" or "Smiling Culture," was all reggae and dub, the new Ruts DC single in advance of their Music Must Destroy album is much more on the punk rock tip. The tightly-wound, hard-hitting "Psychic Attack" is about trying not to succumb to the people who're trying to grind you down ("Heart's in the basement/Death's at the door/I don't know if I can take any more... Somebody hit me with too much poison/Somebody hit me with too much pain/I'm falling back, but I feel like I'm frozen/And it's happening again and again and again..."). After the mad tension of that fantastic track, the groovy, almost mod-like "Vox Teardrop (Instrumental)," presumably a tribute to the famed guitar, is sweet relief. Few bands can do both punk and reggae so well--just ask Dennis Bovell (who in the September 2016 issue of Mojo declares, "Segs and Ruffy were the only punks who could play reggae").

1592 Family of Choice (CD/digital download, Abbey Productions, 2016): Like their battered and decaying Detroit hometown (where the American dream crashed and burned), 1592's seriously groove-filled brand of rocksteady and reggae (fuel-injected with 1960s soul and garage rock) is often dark or melancholy, but always proudly defiant and determined to see things through (from album opener "Different Track": "I'll be willing to bet/There's light left in me yet"). Standout songs on this terrific album include "Lonely Road" (which you sometimes have to traverse when you're doing the right thing), the sing-along "Fight for You" ("If you say you'll stay with me/We'll never see defeat/Woah, woah/I'll always fight for you"), and the ass-kicking instrumental "Hooligans." Proof that music keeps you going in life, despite all the forces arrayed against you, is the incredibly infectious "Move Your Feet": "I been waiting my whole damn life/Just to get up out of this old town/It's been running and running me back/But my feet haven't left the ground, no, no/We'll I've been trying my whole damn life just to figure out what she wants/She's been messing and messing around and can't even see the taunts, no, no/I've been trying my whole damn life just to figure out what she means/She's been pushing and pushing me back and I can't even see between, no, no/You've got to move your feet/As I drop this rocksteady beat/Jump up out of your seat/As I drop this rock, yes!" 1592's Family of Choice makes me wish I lived closer to Detroit, so I could see them play much more frequently and because I'd hope to have stand-up guys like these in my corner.

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