Sunday, August 6, 2017

Duff Review: Pama International "Love and Austerity"

Heavyweight LP, CD, digital download (the album is also being released as a series of four singles via Record Kicks)
Happy People Records
2017

(Review by Steve Shafer)

I've been listening to Pama International's ninth album for weeks now, ruminating about whether or not this is a political concept record of sorts (read on to find out!). However, during that time, what's never been in question is the sheer excellence of all of the ska-reggae-soul songs contained on Pama International's Love and Austerity. The LP is anchored by two incredible covers that kick off each side: Martha and the Vandellas' "Heatwave" and John Holt's "Man Next Door." The former could be read as a metaphor for climate change, while the latter might be interpreted as being about societal breakdown ("I've got to get away from here/This is not a place for me to stay/I've got to take my family/And find a quiet place"). Even the one catchy instrumental on the album is named "Gasoline" (the literal fuel of our planet's destruction and a prime example of humankind's extreme folly). To this mix, add their original "Austerity Skank," which tries to shake off the gray of the punishing Cameron--and now Theresa May/Brexit--years through PMA: "Hard times have come/Now, hard times be gone/No more illusions/System delusions/Our hard times are done...I'm stepping out to a better place/Tired of all of the lies getting in the way/I just want to be free/With no austerity..."

Even most of the lush love songs on this album (with the exception of "Skies Are Blue"--for now!) are filled with friction, dysfunction, and entropy. Life is passing by a man sleepwalking through his relationship in "Wake Up" ("We spend hours/Worrying about the business/Just to go and miss the sunset...Wake up, my darling/For you are the reason why/I celebrate life every time you smile"). Another couple is on the verge of breaking up in "I Cried Until I Stopped"--she's heartbroken over what must happen (but even her tears have limits)--though by the end of the song she defiantly sings that she'll "never stop loving you." The last track on the LP is a soulful cover of John Loudermilk's 1962 tune "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," which on its face is hopeful about a couple's future together, but can't quite push away the reality that not everything lasts ("Kiss me each morning for a million years/Hold me each evening by your side/Tell me you'll love me for a million years/Then if it don't work out/Then if it don't work out/Then you can tell me goodbye").

On Love and Austerity, Pama International's lyrics may be downbeat, but the exquisite music and wonderful performances pack a staggering emotional wollop. This is the music to help get you through the rough days that most likely lay ahead...

+ + + +

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Summer/Fall 2017 Ska Calendar #50

The incomparable Rico.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Brown Rice Family

Madison Square Park
Between Fifth and Madison Avenues, 23rd and 26th Streets
Manhattan, NY
Free!

+ + + +

Thursday, August 3, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Descendents, Mephiskapheles, Audacity

House of Vans
25 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY
RSVP at HouseOfVans.com

+ + + +

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

The Selecter, Rude Boy George, The Pandemics

Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$30 in advance/$35 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Sunday, August 13, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

King Yellowman and the Sagittarius Band

B.B. King's
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$22.50 (and up)

+ + + +

Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

DJ Gorilla presents Dubistry, Aqua Cherry, PrinceLionSound, Subtropico Militia Heavy Sound

Pista
96-11 Roosevelt Avenue
Queens, NY
$10/all ages

+ + + +

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Fishbone

The Harbor Lights Yacht
Departs from: East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive
New York, NY
$39/21+

+ + + +

Monday, September 4, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Escarioka

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
16702 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Rockaway Park, Queens
Free!

+ + + +

Friday, September 8, 2017 @ 6:30 pm

Pilfers 20th Anniversary

The Well
272 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY

+ + + +

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Black Uhuru

B.B. King's
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$25 in advance/$30 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Saturday, October 14, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

DJ Gorilla Fest 2 with Beat Brigade, Skarroñeros, Raise the Kicks, Rebushchaos

Pista
96-11 Roosevelt Avenue
Queens, NY
$10/all ages

+ + + +

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Selecter and Saxa (RIP) in the August 2017 Issue of MOJO

The August 2017 issue of MOJO magazine (which is taking longer and longer to find its way over to the USA each month; my newsagent told me that he heard that the distributor might start bringing the bulk of each month's issues over by boat and only have some copies airmailed--and the consumer would pay more for the airmailed copies if they want to receive them more quickly!) features a fantastic warts-and-all four-page history of The Selecter by Lois Wilson, as well as an obit for The Beat's late and truly amazing saxophonist, Saxa (compare it to our remembrance of the man).

The Selecter feature hews fairly closely to what I've read about the band previously (particularly via Pauline Black's autobiography "Black by Design"), though I don't think it's been ever stated so clearly that Black (according to Neol Davies) was the one to break up the Celebrate the Bullet-era Selecter--and I had no idea how the early 90s revival of The Selecter, which included both Davies and Black (and was quite good live--see Out on the Streets), managed to lose Davies fairly early on. This piece does give short shrift to the recent Black/Hendrickson/Pyzer version of The Selecter; they've released a series of undeniably great albums full of new material and have extensively toured in support of them (and they're playing in the USA again this August). Oh, and it seems that The Selecter's forthcoming album was originally titled Human Too.

When I was writing my obit for Saxa, I found it pretty difficult to find any reliable info about Saxa's goings on in the UK in the 1960s--he claimed to have played with The Beatles and Elvis during that time (I did track down Malu Halasa's "Twist and Crawl," an entertaining Wha'ppen-era biography of The Beat, but even that didn't have a lot of solid facts on Saxa's background). So, it was interesting to see that MOJO's Ian Harrison had similar challenges. All in all, MOJO did Saxa proud.

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pre-Order The Selecter's New Album "Daylight"/See the "Frontline" Video

You can now pre-order The Selecter's new album Daylight (the fourth from this iteration of the band), which will be released on October 6, 2017 on CD, heavyweight vinyl, and digital download. As we previously noted, the band already has issued the first digital single off the record, "Frontline" (see the official music video below).

The quality control of The Selecter's recent albums has been undeniably high (see our review of Subculture), so my gut feeling (reinforced by the amazing "Frontline") is that this one will be a keeper, as well. (I've pre-ordered the vinyl, which will may be hard to find in the US...)



+ + + +

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Summer/Fall 2017 Ska Calendar #49

Long live The Slits!
Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

The Dirty Notion, The Applecores, plus DJ Duff

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street (close to Avenue B)
New York, NY
No cover, but bring $ for when we pass the bucket for each band.
21+

+ + + +

Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

Brown Rice Family, DJ Duct Tape

Archway Under the Manhattan Bridge
155 Water Street
Dumbo, Brooklyn
Free!

+ + + +

Saturday, July 15, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

The Wailers, The Far East

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street
New York, NY
$25

+ + + +

Saturday, July 15, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, Third World

Ford Amphitheater at the Coney Island Boardwalk
3052 West 21st Street
Brooklyn, NY
$108

+ + + +

Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

NYC Ska Orchestra

Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main Street
Queens, NY
FREE with Garden Admission: Adults – $6; Seniors (age 62+) – $4; Students with ID – $4; Children (ages 4 to 12) – $2; Children (3 and under) – FREE; Members – FREE.

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Aquabats

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street
New York, NY
$25-$125

+ + + +

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones w/Mephiskapheles, Vic Ruggiero

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
New York, NY
$25.50-$35.00
18+

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Far East, The Steady 45s, DJ Agent Jay

Cape House
2 Knickerbocker Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, July 29, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Beat Brigade, Joker's Republic

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
16702 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Rockaway Park
Free!

+ + + +

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

The Selecter, Rude Boy George, The Pandemics

Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$30 in advance/$35 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Sunday, August 13, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

King Yellowman and the Sagittarius Band

B.B. King's
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$22.50 (and up)

+ + + +

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Fishbone

The Harbor Lights Yacht
Departs from: East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive
New York, NY
$39/21+

+ + + +

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Black Uhuru

B.B. King's
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$25 in advance/$30 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Sunday, July 9, 2017

New Single ("Frontline"), Album ("Daylight"), and US Tour from The Selecter

(by Steve Shafer)

The Selecter with Pauline Black and Arthur "Gaps" Hendrickson have just released the winning new digital single "Frontline" to promote their upcoming album Daylight, which will be issued on October 6, 2017. 

Picking up where the powerful "Ghost Town"-like "Breakdown" left off (which is from their recent Subculture album, read The Duff Guide to Ska review here), the wildly catchy "Frontline" is critical of our smartphone/social media addicted society, where we have significantly more access to information and each other than ever before in the history of humanity, but actually seem to be increasingly disconnected, numb, and apathetic as a result. "Frontline's" reference to the extrajudicial/racial police killing of Eric Garner makes it also a call for real, in-person protesting and organizing for social justice and change--not Facebook posts that float without impact in the ether of cyberspace.

"Frontline, out on the street
Frontline, out on the street

Don't get me started
I'm all in a rush
You want to push me
Under a bus

I'm feeling restless
I need to believe
In something more
Than I want to stay free

My mind is full
My heart is empty
It's hard to live
In a world of plenty

The more I see
The less I feel
You sell me dreams
But they're not real

Frontline, out on the street
Frontline, out on the street

I feel a hunger
A hunger in me
I saw a man
Pushed off his feet

He tried to be
All he could be
He shouted out
"Now, I can't breathe!"

My mind is full
My heart is empty
It's hard to live
In a world of plenty

The more I see
The less I feel
You sell me dreams
But they're not real

Frontline, out on the street
Frontline, out on the street

I'm nobody's, nobody's hashtag
Ever the mighty shall fall
I'm nobody's, nobody's hashtag
Nobody's hashtag at all"

+ + + +

The Selecter's "Frontline" is available from these digital retailers (and it would make a great 7" vinyl single...):

iTunes - http://po.st/frontlineitunes
Amazon - http://po.st/frontlineamazon
Spotify - http://po.st/frontlinespotify

+ + + + 

The Selecter will be touring the USA and Canada this August (see dates and venues above in the image). The NYC show also features openers Rude Boy George (who also are playing the Fairfield, CT date) and The Pandemics. If The Selecter are coming anywhere near you, make sure to catch their performance--they're amazingly good these days (here's my write-up of their show in NYC last fall as proof).

+ + + + 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: King Kong 4 "There's Not Much That You or I Can Do About It," Jackie Mittoo "Striker Showcase"

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

King Kong 4 There's Not Much That You or I Can Do About It (Five-track digital EP, Winterbeard Records, 2017): I saw the harrowing movie version of Nevil Shute's post-World War III/doomsday novel "On the Beach" (where the last bits of humanity in Melbourne, Australia wait for the the nuclear fallout to reach and kill them--though most of the characters opt out via suicide pills, rather than suffering an agonizing death due to radiation poisoning) while in middle school at the end of the 1970s, when nuclear armageddon was a terrifyingly real possibility (and kept me up at nights). While King Kong 4's There's Not Much That You or I Can Do About It EP and its song titles are all taken from Shute's bleak novel (note the mushroom clouds in the EP cover art), all of their instrumental tracks are actually pleasantly bright and cheery. "Going a Bit Mad in Our Own Way" (with its incredible ice rink organ line), "To Lose Before You Start" (which features samples of President Harry Truman talking about bombing Hiroshima), and "Sitting Behind the Wheel of Her Car" (plus two dub versions) are fantastic spaghetti Western ska tracks (appropriate, given America's cowboy image/mythology and notoriety as the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war). One imagines the KK4 up in Toronto, watching in resigned horror as its destabilized and unpredictable superpower neighbor wreaks havoc on the world, but opting to keep on creating (life-affirming) music rather than giving into helplessness and despair.

Jackie Mittoo Striker Showcase (2xCD, 17 North Parade/VP Records, 2017): Back in the latter half of the 70s, producer Bunny "Striker" Lee arranged for Studio One's former musical director, arranger, and master keyboardist Jackie Mittoo (Skatalites, Soul Vendors/Brothers, Sound Dimension) to depart his adopted Toronto for the UK and JA to re-record/re-interpret many of his seminal ridders that he created for Coxsone Dodd in the 1960s ("Hot Milk," "Ram Jam," and dozens more) for a series of albums: The Keyboard King (1977), Hot Blood (1977), Showcase (1978), and In Cold Blood (1978). For these wonderfully loose, warm, and funky recordings, Mittoo was backed by a stellar band that included Sly Dunbar on drums, Robbie Shakespeare on bass, Winston Wright and Ansel Collins on piano, Earl "Chinna" Smith on guitar, and Tony Chin, Winston "Bo Pee" Bowen, Geoffrey Chung, and Carl Harvey on rhythm guitar--all providing Mittoo with the rock solid roots foundation for him to work his extraordinary keyboard magic. Even if you picked up Blood and Fire's Champion in the Arena, 1976-1977 back in 2003, which contains most of what's on the first half of this release, you'll want this comp for its second CD. You can never have enough Jackie Mittoo in your collection.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Summer/Fall 2017 Ska Calendar #48

Photo by Janette Beckman
Friday, June 9, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Specials, The Far East

Brooklyn Steel
319 Frost Street
Brooklyn, NY
$50/16+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 10, 2017 @ 9:00 pm (2 sets!)

Larry McDonald's 80th Birthday Party w/Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7, plus DJ One Hundred Decibels

Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$8

+ + + +

Saturday, June 10, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Alla Spina, Beat Brigade, The Screw Ups, The Oneness

Legion Bar
790 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$5

+ + + +

Sunday, June 18, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Protoje

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street
New York, NY
$25-$28

+ + + +

Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Slackers

Rocks Off Concert Cruise
The Liberty Belle
299 South Street
New York, NY
$30/21+

+ + + +

Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Hub City Stompers, 45 Adapters, Hardknocks, Vinny and the Hooligans

Cape House
2 Knickerbocker Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, July 1, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Reggay Lords

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
16702 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Rockaway Park
Free!

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 4, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

The Wailing Souls

B.B. King's
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$25 in advance/$30 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Saturday, July 8, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Desorden Publico, Los Mesoneros

SOB's
204 Varick Street
New York, NY
$30-$35/21+

+ + + +

Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

The Dirty Notion, The Applecores, Barbicide, plus DJ Duff

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street (close to Avenue B)
New York, NY
No cover, but bring $ for when we pass the bucket.
21+

+ + + +

Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

Brown Rice Family, DJ Duct Tape

Archway Under the Manhattan Bridge
155 Water Street
Dumbo, Brooklyn
Free!

+ + + +

Saturday, July 15, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, Third World

Ford Amphitheater at the Coney Island Boardwalk
3052 West 21st Street
Brooklyn, NY
$108

+ + + +

Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

NYC Ska Orchestra

Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main Street
Queens, NY
FREE with Garden Admission: Adults – $6; Seniors (age 62+) – $4; Students with ID – $4; Children (ages 4 to 12) – $2; Children (3 and under) – FREE; Members – FREE.

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Aquabats

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street
New York, NY
$25-$125

+ + + +

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
New York, NY
$25.50-$35.00
18+

+ + + +

Saturday, July 29, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Beat Brigade

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
16702 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Rockaway Park
Free!

+ + + +

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

The Selecter, Rude Boy George, The Pandemics

Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$30 in advance/$35 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Black Uhuru

B.B. King's
237 West 42nd Street,
New York, NY
$25 in advance/$30 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: Hopeton Lewis "There She Goes" b/w Vin Gordon and The Supersonics "Reggay Trombone," Johnny Clarke and the Flying Vipers "Highest Region" b/w "Highest Version," Mungo's Hi Fi featuring Johnny Clarke "Rain Keeps Falling" b/w "Spring Shower Dub"

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

Hopeton Lewis "There She Goes" b/w Vin Gordon and The Supersonics "Reggay Trombone" (heavyweight 7" vinyl single, Trojan Records, 2017): This limited edition Record Store Day 2017 release boasts two unreleased Duke Reid productions from Treasure Island's archives. As both cuts are fantastic, one wonders why they lay hidden until now (perhaps the almost ridiculous abundance of incredible music in JA at the time made it difficult to choose what to release?). Lewis' sprightly rocksteady track (love the combination of flute and sax here) masks the heartache of the lyrics: "There she goes/And I'm lonely once again/There she goes/And I don't know where she's going/But she's gone, gone, gone." "Reggay Trombone" spotlights Vin Gordon's t-bone chops as he's backed by Tommy McCook's Supersonics on this cheerful and lively early/skinhead reggae instrumental. (Copies are still out there to be had at reasonable prices.)

Johnny Clarke "Highest Region" b/w Flying Vipers "Highest Version" (green 7" vinyl single, Jump Up Records, 2017): Phenomenal roots singer Johnny Clarke is supported by Boston's reggae/dub masters Flying Vipers on this excellent single (unofficially titled Johnny Clarke Meets Flying Vipers). The atypical and unsettling beat and stripped-to-the-bone dubby instrumental backing on "Highest Region" provides a sharp contrast to Clarke's plaintive chant of "We want, we want, we want to go home/To Zion, away from Babylon" (the restlessness and unease in the music won't be calmed until there's deliverance from evil). Its dub "Highest Version" is even further deconstructed to great effect. This is definitely one of the more unusual dub releases you'll find this year and very much worth owning.

Mungo's Hi Fi featuring Johnny Clarke "Rain Keeps Falling" b/w "Spring Shower Dub" (7" vinyl single, Scotch Bonnet Records, 2017): For Record Store Day 2017, Glasgow-based Mungo's Hi Fi created a fantastically spare and seductive new roots riddim track for Johnny Clarke to sing his message of love over ("Rain keeps falling/And my body is calling/You're my one and only/I don't want to be lonely/You're my pride and joy/We were meant to be/Life is just for living/Love is what I'm giving"). Notably, this cut and its great dub version feature the "flying cymbals" that harken back to Clarke's first hit in 1974 with Bunny Lee, Earl Zero's "None Shall Escape the Judgement." As to be expected, Mungo's Hi Fi and Clarke deliver nothing short of the best.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend: Supernova International Ska Festival!

As many of you are already aware, there is a big, two-day ska fest coming up over the Memorial Day weekend--the Supernova International Ska Festival in Fredericksburg, VA (which is about an hour or so south of Washington, DC). There are many top acts that don't make to the East Coast with much frequency (if at all), like Derrick Morgan, The Aggrolites (with Greg Lee of Hepcat), Sonic Boom Six, The Skints, Monty Neysmith--and there are tons of amazing acts always worth seeing, including The Toasters, The Piestasters, Pilfers, Askultura, Chris Murray, Hub City Stompers, J. Navarro and the Traitors, Eastern Standard Time, The Scotch Bonnets, The Ladrones, The Bishops, The Snails, Sammy Kay, and more! Check out who's playing which day of the festival on the graphic below. All other details are on the festival website, which includes a handy festival FAQ page. There's also a (now sold-out) Friday night pre-festival party with Jump Up Records at the Spencer Devon Brewery, where they'll be screening the Legends of Ska movie (with filmmaker Brad Klein present), a CHema Skandal poster show, a Jump Up Records pop up shop, and DJ sets by Chuck Wren, Sonido Triton, and Darren Reggae! 


Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Summer 2017 Ska Calendar #47

The great Laurel Aitken!
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

J. Navarro and The Traitors, Fuck It I Quit, Public Serpents

Cape House
2 Knickerbocker Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$12/21+

+ + + +

Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Sister Nancy and Friends, Rice and Peas, Queen Majesty

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

Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Monty Neysmith Montgomery of Symarip, Consumata, The Bishops

Cape House
2 Knickerbocker Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 3, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Ska/Punky/Reggae Party II w/The Rudie Crew, The Omega Men, Super Hi-Fi, Necrotic Society, Skum City, Curb Ya Horse, plus DJ Gorilla

Pista bandas unidas oficial
96-11 Roosevelt Avenue
Queens, NY
All ages

+ + + +

Friday, June 9, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Specials, The Far East

Brooklyn Steel
319 Frost Street
Brooklyn, NY
$50/16+

+ + + +

Saturday, June 10, 2017 @ 9:00 pm (2 sets!)

Larry McDonald's 80th Birthday Party w/Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7, plus DJ One Hundred Decibels

Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$8

+ + + +

Sunday, June 18, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Protoje

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street
New York, NY
$25-$28

+ + + +

Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Slackers

Rocks Off Concert Cruise
The Liberty Belle
299 South Street
New York, NY
$30/21+

+ + + +

Saturday, July 1, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Reggay Lords

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
16702 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Rockaway Park
Free!

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 4, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

The Wailing Souls

BB Kings
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$25 in advance/$30 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Saturday, July 8, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Desorden Publico, Los Mesoneros

SOB's
204 Varick Street
New York, NY
$30-$35/21+

+ + + +

Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

The Dirty Notion and Special Guests, plus DJ Duff

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street (close to Avenue B)
New York, NY
No cover, but bring $ for when we pass the bucket.
21+

+ + + +

Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

Brown Rice Family, DJ Duct Tape

Archway Under the Manhattan Bridge
155 Water Street
Dumbo, Brooklyn
Free!

+ + + +

Saturday, July 16, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, Third World

Ford Amphitheater at the Coney Island Boardwalk
3052 West 21st Street
Brooklyn, NY
$108

+ + + +

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Aquabats

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street
New York, NY
$25-$125

+ + + +

Saturday, July 29, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Beat Brigade

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
16702 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Rockaway Park
Free!

+ + + +

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

The Selecter

Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$30 in advance/$35 day of show
All ages!

+ + + +

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Help Save the London International Ska Festival!

Here's a guest post from Sean Flowerdew of Pama International and the London International Ska Festival. Please consider becoming a patron of this amazing and venerable ska festival (I have!)...

Save The London Intl Ska Festival - Become a patron today!

My name is Sean Flowerdew. I founded and run The London Int’l Ska Festival. Since it's launch in 1988, I have strived to create an unique and world class event, that does justice to the world of ska, rocksteady, reggae, 2 Tone and beyond. I’m honoured to have hosted hundreds of bands and DJs at some of the best venues London has to offer for 29 years!

Year on year, the festival grows and attracts more people from all over the world. It has always astonished me that someone would fly from another continent for a weekend. It is truly fantastic to see so many international friendships, relationships, marriages and even families be born out of our festival.

Sadly, it has become increasingly difficult to single handedly maintain the festival. A couple of bad financial years for the festival in 2011 and 2012 set me back personally by tens of thousands of pounds. Since then any profit just pays off past years debts. To make matters worse, what is a full time job can never provide a wage.

I love the festival. I love programming it. More then anything I want to keep the festival going and want it to grow in the way I know it can, but personally carrying debts year to year, which are now in excess of £79,000, has taken it’s toll. It has become impossible to fund the festival solely by myself.

To keep the London Intl Ska Festival not only alive, but continuing to thrive, I need to clear the debts. I have thought long and hard about seeking companies to invest or getting sponsorship but I know this would change the nature and integrity of what is a truly independent festival.

So, I’m reaching out to you, friends of the festival and fans of all things ska. I need your help. Today I am launching a patron scheme, whereby you can support the festival and ensure it’s survival and growth.

I'm not asking for donations (although anything helps). I'm asking you to become part of the festival and invest in it. For now, we’ve come up with four ways of supporting our festival, all based around becoming a patron.

Not only do your your money, but you can sleep happy in the knowledge that you've become part of, and supported what is a vital and historical festival.

Become a patron of The London Intl Ska Festival

Become of patron for as little as £3 
Every little bit helps--a this level you will receive the newly launched Help Save LISF pin badge. Price includes postage anywhere in the world.

Become a patron for £25

For this your name will be listed in the 2018/30th Anniversary Ska Festival book & you will receive a set of our 6 exclusive football team postcards.

Become a patron for £40
For this your name will be listed in the 2018/30th Anniversary Ska Festival book. You will also recieve a set of our 6 football team postcards and an exclusive screen printed t-shirt, designed by Peter O’Toole.

Become a patron for £147.50 (ska festival wristband ticket option)
For this your name will be listed in the 2018/30th Anniversary Ska Festival book. You will also recieve a set of our 6 football team postcards and an exclusive screen printed t-shirt, designed by Peter O’Toole. AND a wristband ticket to The London International Ska Festival 2018. The wristband ticket will get you into all the 2018 festival events.

The London Int’l Ska Festival 2018 will take place next Easter (29th March-1st April). If you can, please help us to celebrate our 30th Anniversary in the style we’ve all become accustomed to.

Thank you for reading and thank you for supporting!

Sean Flowerdew
The London Int’l Ska Festival

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: Dub Natty Sessions and Dennis Bovell "DNS and Friends" and V/A: "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" E

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

Ken Boothe, Dillinger, Leroy Smart, Delroy Wilson White Man in Hammersmith Palais EP (limited edition RSD 7" vinyl four-track EP with mini-poster, Greensleeves Records, 2017): This neat compilation EP features one song each from the reggae artists named-checked in the phenomenal Clash song of the same title (which, of course, was about Joe Strummer attending a concert at the Hammersmith Palais in London featuring these artists on June 5, 1977 and having his expectations dashed when it turned out that "...it was Four Tops all night...onstage they ain't got no roots rock rebel"). It's kind of surprising that no one's though of this cool concept previously, so hats off to Greensleeves for executing it so well. The EP features Dillinger's and Smart's fantastic 1976 UK hit tracks "Cokane in My Brain" and "Ballistic Affair," as well as Booth's 1973 cover of Detroit soul artist Sixto Rodriguez's "Silver Words," and a sweet rare cut from Delroy Wilson, "Rascal Man" (AKA "False Rasta"). The repro poster of the Hammersmith Palais bill advertises that the show ran from midnight to 6:00 am, which finally explains the first line of Strummer's song...

Dub Natty Sessions and Dennis Bovell featuring Matic Horns and Mad Professor DNS and Friends (CD/digital download, available through Bovell's Old School Records, 2017): This is the second release from this Venezuelan, now UK-based roots reggae act Dub Natty Sessions. Their debut was mixed and produced by Bovell who makes a repeat appearance, this time on bass and behind the boards at Mad Professor's Ariwa studios (the Professor mixed the album). DNS and Friends is filled with catchy and dubby reggae instrumentals (featuring all the expert touches one expects of Bovell and the Mad Professor) that achieve real brilliance on tracks like "Un Amor" (which sounds like it could have come off Rico's Jama Rico) and "Plantation" (that recalls Bovell's incredible work with The 4th Street Orchestra). While Dub Natty Sessions lay down some seriously good and enjoyable grooves, their secret weapon on this album is the majestic Matic Horns (Bovell's Matumbi bandmate Henry “Buttons” Tenyue on trombone and Aswad members Eddie "Tan Tan" Thornton on trumpet and Michael "Bami" Rose on sax), who are put to amazing use here.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

RIP, Saxa of The Beat

The Beat were (left to right) Ranking Roger, David Steele, Saxa,
Andy Cox (behind Saxa), Dave Wakeling, and Everett Morton.
From the opening notes of The Beat's 1979 debut single for 2 Tone (their incredible cover of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "Tears of a Clown") through to the closing, lingering sounds of "Ackee 1-2-3" (from the last track on their third and final studio album, Special Beat Service, released in 1982), Saxa's exuberant, lush, and free-flowing tenor saxophone horn lines were integral to the band's music (providing a relaxed, improvisational contrast to the tightly wound, bullet train of a rhythm section)--giving The Beat a distinct and instantly recognizable trademark sound that managed to bridge the opposing energies of dubby reggae and punk-fired late '70s British ska.

Born Lionel Augustus Martin in Jamaica on January 5, 1930, Saxa performed with fellow JA ska superstars like Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker, and Laurel Aitken (and later backed Elvis and The Beatles). Already 50 by the time he was recruited to join The Beat (having emigrated to England 25 years earlier), Saxa not only contributed his prodigious musical talents to the band, but lent the upstart ska revivalists immediate legitimacy through his participation in the first wave of ska with the aforementioned '60s ska originators.

In Daniel Rachel's brilliant "Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge" (the best history of 2 Tone that you'll ever read), Ranking Roger recalled: "Days before we went into the studio [to record "Tears of a Clown"] we found Saxa. He was this old, loud Jamaican man that just got drunk all the time and was always aggressive and cussing and swearing. There must have been a good thirty-five years' difference between us but as soon as he blew that saxophone, baby, you'd shut up."

Dave Wakeling added: "Everett [Morton] used to take us to the Crompton in Handsworth where Saxa played. He was the most mesmerizing saxophone player we'd ever heard. He played a couple of gigs with us and then said, 'I've been waiting all my life for you boys.'"

After three phenomenal albums, The Beat split into General Public and Fine Young Cannibals, but Saxa continued working with both factions, appearing on studio recordings for both acts (and later recording and touring with the The International Beat and Special Beat).

Saxa passed away on May 3, 2017 at age 87.

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The Beat's Special Beat Service was released in 1982 when I was 16 and was on heavy rotation throughout my high school and college years (it still remains an all-time favorite, along with all of the other original Beat albums). Saxa's riffs on all of these tunes are permanently engrained in my mind and I'm forever grateful for his extraordinary music and life.

I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and fans.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: Hollie Cook's "Superstar," Pama International's "Man Next Door" b/w "Austerity Skank," and Neville Staple's "Return of Judge Roughneck"

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

Hollie Cook "Superstar" b/w "Superdub" (free Record Store Day 7"/digital download, Merge Records, 2017): The physical release of this single was a last minute addition to the 2017 Record Store Day line-up and was said to given out for free at select indie shops in celebration of Cook's joining the Merge Records line-up in the USA (did anyone receive one?). The choice of cover here--The Carpenters' AM pop staple "Superstar"--is definitely inspired, continues to fulfill Cook's mission to create "tropical pop," and is well matched to her wonderfully pure voice. And while this is no slight to producer/drummer Ben Mckone (who does a very fine job here), I have to admit to kind of missing the Prince Fatty touch. No word on the new album yet, but it bodes well, based on this teaser...

Pama International "Man Next Door" b/w "Austerity Skank" (clear vinyl 7" single/digital download, Record Kicks, 2017): Following their fantastic cover of Martha and the Vandellas' "Heatwave" comes Pama International's second single off their forthcoming Love and Austerity album (to be released any time now via Record Kicks and featuring the amazing co-lead vocals of Jewels Vass and Anna Uhuru). John Holt's rocksteady urban living lament (most memorably versioned/deconstructed by The Slits) is beautifully rendered here. Even better is Pama International's original tune "Austerity Skank," which tries to shake off the gray of the punishing Cameron (now May/Brexit) years through PMA: "Hard times have come/Now, hard times be gone/No more illusions/System delusions/Our hard times are done...I'm stepping out to a better place/Tired of all of the lies getting in the way/I just want to be free/With no austerity..."

Neville Staple Return of Judge Roughneck (CD/2 x LP, Cleopatra Records, 2017): When I first put on Neville Staple's new record (after first seeing it on Chuck Wren's FB feed) and heard the opening notes of "Gangsters"/"Al Capone" in "Return of Judge Roughneck" (referencing his "Stupid Marriage" persona, natch), I braced myself for an album trading heavily on 2 Tone/Specials nostalgia (even note the use of The Specials' font on the back cover). After having listened to the LP several times through now, my initial impressions haven't been dispelled, but it's all done so winningly and well that any cynicism melts away at the sheer joy of it all. About half the tracks are safe but good covers (Stranger Cole's "Bangarang," Peter Tosh's "Maga Dog," The Melodians' "Sweet Sensation," and Sigman and Magidson's via Prince Buster/The Specials "Enjoy Yourself," among them)--though, the "Ghost Town"-like version of his own Fun Boy Three's "The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum," an apt tune for the times if there ever was one, and gleeful rendition of Jimmy Soul's "If You Want to Be Happy" are truly ace; but think of them as warming you up for the really good stuff. Just about all of the new tracks--the Toasters-like modern ska of "Down My Street," the rocksteady rude boy anthem "Crime Don't Pay," the Madness-y sing-along music hall ska of "Gang Fever" ("Every time you read The Mirror or Star/Kids shot dead, rumours of war/It's a fever"), and "Politician Man"--are really good in their own right (more of these, please!). Oh, and there's a full album of inventive dubs included on the second LP or extended CD ("Crime Dub," Roadblock," "Dub Fever," "Bang Bang," "Dub Crazy," and "Legal Dub" in particular are fantastic!). This one is very much worth picking up.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Winter/Spring 2017 Ska Calendar #46

The one and only Lee "Scratch" Perry.
Saturday, April 15, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

New Kingston, Rude Boy George

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street
New York, NY
$15

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Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

DJ Gorilla presents The Last Ska Dance w/Beat Brigade, The Shipwrecks, Boomshot, The Damn Long Hairs, Changala Changala, plus DJ Miss Hap!

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

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Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

100% Ska at Otto's Shrunken Head - Selections by DJ Ryan Midnight

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street (between Aves A and B)
New York, NY
No cover

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Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm

ReadJunk 20th Anniversary Party w/Rude Boy George (two sets) and DJ Duff

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street (between Aves A and B)
New York, NY
No cover

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Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

The Ladrones Record Release Party w/The Applecores

Tobacco Road
355 West 41st Street
New York, NY

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Lee "Scratch" Perry, Subatomic Sound System

Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker Street
New York, NY
$25 in advance/$30 day of show
18+

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Friday, May 12, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Mephiskapheles, NYC Ska Orchestra

The Bell House
149 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

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Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Askultura and The Ladrones

Tobacco Road
354 West 41st Street
New York, NY

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

J. Navarro and The Traitors

Cape House
2 Knickerbocker Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

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Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Monty Neysmith Montgomery of Symarip, The Bishops

Cape House
2 Knickerbocker Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

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Saturday, June 3, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Ska/Punky/Reggae Party II w/The Rudie Crew, The Omega Men, Super Hi-Fi, Necrotic Society, Skum City, Curb Ya Horse, plus DJ Gorilla

Pista bandas unidas oficial
96-11 Roosevelt Avenue
Queens, NY
All ages

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Friday, June 9, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Specials, The Far East

Brooklyn Steel
319 Frost Street
Brooklyn, NY
$50/16+

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Saturday, June 10, 2017 @ 9:00 pm (2 sets!)

Larry McDonald's 80th Birthday Party w/Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7, plus DJ One Hundred Decibels
Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$8

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Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

The Slackers

Rocks Off Concert Cruise
The Liberty Belle
299 South Street
New York, NY
$30/21+

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: The Bakesys "Studio Selections 1991-1995," Flying Vipers "The Copper Tape," The Skatalites "Foundation Ska"

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

The Bakesys Studio Selections 1991-1995 (CD, Do The Dog Music, 2017): Even though I was pretty well plugged into the international ska scene in the early 1990s (largely thanks to The Bakesys' keyboardist Kevin Flowerdew, who produced the wonderfully comprehensive Rude Skazine, which morphed into the current Do The Dog Skazine), I somehow missed the thread with The Bakesys--which I'm all the lesser for, since they recorded some truly excellent modern UK ska (a frenetic 2 Tone-power pop blend influenced by The Specials and The Jam, amongst others, and specifically made for maximum dancing), as captured on Studio Selections 1991-1995 (all of which holds up very well 25 or so years later). This release contains their debut album (key cuts: "Looking for Love," "Confused,""Days Gone By," "Life So Dub," and the int'l ska comp favorite "Animated Violence"), plus six sweet rare/unreleased songs/versions (highlights: "Sunnyside Up," "Looking for Version," "Without Warning," and "Days Gone Pop"). Don't be a dope like I was and miss out on The Bakesys' music this time 'round.

Flying Vipers The Copper Tape (cassette/digital download, Music A. D. D., 2017): This is the second release from Boston's mighty Flying Vipers, which is comprised of members of Destroy Babylon and Pressure Cooker, who specialize in '70s-sounding instrumental roots reggae and dub recorded on analog equipment that reminds this reviewer most strongly of Dennis Bovell's output (check out The Duff Guide to Ska's review of The Vipers' debut, The Green Tape). The Vipers create incredible, mesmerizing dub tracks that never quite deconstruct things to the point where the tune is entirely lost--melody is everything here (like on all Bovell productions). I love this whole tape (eight cuts on the cassette, seven on the download), but standout tracks for me include the sublimely ethereal "Smoke and Dagger" (paging Jackie Mittoo!), the Western reggae-ish "Heady Topper Headon" (of course, named after The Clash's phenomenal drummer), and the mysterious Lee Perry-like "Return of the Living Zero" (which rely on organ, melodica, and clavinet respectively to carry each song's tune). You may think me bold, but the Flying Vipers' Copper Tape is most likely the best new dub release you'll hear all year.

The Skatalites Foundation Ska (CD/LP, Studio One, 2017 reissue): This fantastic compilation of Skatalites tracks produced by Coxsone Dodd was originally released by Heartbeat Records in 1997, but has been out of print for some years now--so, this is a very welcome reissue (grab the heavyweight double LP while you can!). While it shouldn't be considered a definitive collection of their work (the in-demand and extraordinarily prolific Skatalites also recorded for Prince Buster, Vincent Chin, King Edwards, Duke Reid, Leslie Kong, Sonia Pottinger, and Justin Yap), Foundation Ska is essential for all fans of '60s ska and captures many of the group's greatest cuts, including "Ska La Parisienne," "Ball of Fire," "Dick Tracy," "Cleopatra," "Beardsman Ska," "Addis Ababa," "Nimble Foot Ska," "Killer Diller," and The Beatles' cover "I Should Have Known Better" AKA "Independence Day." (For what it's worth, I believe the best Skatalites comp--though again, not definitive--is the spectacular 1984 Top Deck release Scattered Lights, licensed by Alligator Records in the US, which helped introduce the band to a whole new generation of American ska fans and musicians in the mid-1980s!)

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: Monty Neysmith and The Bishops "Fung Shu" b/w "Skin Flint" 7"!

Label artwork by CHema Skandal, featuring a "Braces" and "Boots" sides. 
(Review by Steve Shafer)

Monty Neysmith and The Bishops "Fung Shu" b/w "Skin Flint" (7" red or blue vinyl single, Jump Up Records/Mad Butcher, 2017): The great Monty Neysmith, keyboardist/songwriter for one of the first skinhead reggae groups in the UK Symarip (which, of course, released the essential album Skinhead Moonstomp in 1969 on Trojan), has re-recorded two of his classic tunes with his current musical collaborators--Omaha, Nebraska's pride and joy, The Bishops (who backed Neysmith on his 2016 US tour and his "Jump" b/w "Laurels for Laurel" single, also for Jump Up). "Fung Shu" and "Skin Flint" are terrific cuts from Skinhead Moonstomp--"Fung Shu" (about a clown who lost his girlfriend and never smiled/opened his mouth unless he sang this nonsensical song) is given a more straight up reggae reading, while the keyboard heavy instrumental "Skin Flint" (co-written with Roy Ellis) retains its fantastic skinhead reggae flavor. Both are wonderful. As the small print around the edge of the paper label states, "Keep Skinhead music alive! Love music, hate racism."

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Word is that Neysmith and The Bishops have recorded a full album--Monty Neysmith meets The Bishops--which will be released this May at the Supernova International Ska Festival in Virginia.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Confirmed US and UK Record Store Day 2017 Ska and Reggae Releases


This year's Record Store Day is right around the corner (4/22/17), so the powers that be have finally revealed the official list of releases that will see light of day and, in some cases, may work their way into your record collection (and your hearts?).

Below, please find the official list of RSD 2017 ska and reggae releases for the US and UK that may be of interest to Duff Guide to Ska readers.

Happy hunting next week!

US Releases

Creation Rebel: Starship Africa 12" (On-U Sounds)
Ken Boothe, Dillinger, Leroy Smart, Delroy Wilson: White Man in Hammersmith Palais 7" -- Features one hit from each artist named-checked in The Clash's song of the same title. (Greensleeves)
Mad Professor: Mad Professor Meets Jah9  LP (Greensleeves)
Peter Tosh: Legalize It LP -- Pressed on red, yellow, green striped vinyl with scratch and sniff inner sleeve. (Brookvale Records)
U-Roy: Dread In A Babylon LP (Get on Down)
Various Artists: House of Joy 15 x 7" box set (Studio One)
Various Artists: Recutting The Crap LP (Crooked Beat Records)
Various Artists: Studio One in Hi Fi 5 x 7" box set (Soul Jazz)

UK Releases

The Congos: Heart of the Congos LP -- This version features the original mix. (VP Records)
Creation Rebel: Starship Africa 12" (On-U Sounds)
Georgie Fame: R and B at the Ricky Tick 65 LP (1960s Records)
Joe Higgs: "Invitation to Jamaica" 7" (Pressure Sounds)
Hopeton Lewis/Vin Gordon and The Supersonics: "There She Goes" b/w "Reggae Trombone" 7" -- Both tracks are unreleased. (Trojan)
Ken Boothe, Dillinger, Leroy Smart, Delroy Wilson: "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" 7" --Features one hit from each artist named-checked in The Clash's song of the same title.
(Greensleeves)
Madness: "Drip Fed Fred" b/w "Johnny the Horse" 7" (Salvo Music)
Mungo's Hi Fi featuring Johnny Clarke: "Rain Keeps Falling" 7" (Scotch Bonnet)
Revolutionaries: Green Bay Dub LP (Burning Sound)
Various Artists: House of Joy 15 x 7" box set (Studio One)
Various Artists: Tighten Up, Volume 2 Picture disc LP (Trojan Records)
Yabby You: Songs of Love and Unity 5 x 7" box set (Pressure Sounds)

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