Saturday 6 March 2021

The Saturday List #298 - My 60s/70's Ska explosion playlist

 If ever you are having a bad day, just play this list. I could just leave this there, but I will share with you my choices and why I have picked them. I love Ska music, it is perhaps the most joyous of all forms of Popular music. 

We start with Take it Easy by Prince Buster. I have a special affection for this song, as we used to cover it with the False Dots back in the Mid 1980's. At the time, we had expanded to a nine piece band with a brass section. We decided to give each member of the band 2 covers of their choice. Dermot Fanning, a Sax player chose this. I'd never considered doing a Ska cover, but it was a moment of genius. When we played it, people would go mad.

Next up, we have Ali Baba by John Holt. I always loved hearing Ska, even though my mates mostly preferred 70's heavy rock music in my pre punk days. This song always sounded strange and mysterious. John Holt is very underrated and largely forgotten by all apart from Ska aficionados.  He shouldn't be. Without him, it is unlikely we'd have seen Bob Marley emerge as a global megastar.

We couldn't not include Toots, reputedly the man who invented the word Reggae. This song is a tour de force of all that is good about Toots. Detailing his time in jail in Jamaica, it is a powerful song, but very musically uplifting.

Desmond Dekker will always hold a special place in my Heart. The New Years party at Dingwalls featuring Desmond was my first date with Clare, who is now my wife. It was a great night. I think she was impressed!

The Skinhead Moonstomp is one of those songs we'd stomp along to at Youthclub disco's in Mill Hill. Skinheads originally celebrated Ska music and its Jamaican roots, the links with the extreme right wing came later. It is a shame that a working class movement appreciating Jamaican music got subverted, but you can't deny this is a great dance track.

Liquidator by the Harry James Allstars is a song that always conjours the smell of burgers, the terraces, Percy Dalton peanuts and taking a very long bus journey home from Stamford Bridge with my Chelsea supporting mates. I'll forgive the Chelsea links as it is a wonderfully evocative song. I was thinking of those days, we'd all go along with each other to watch teams we didn't support, paying on the terraces. Although there always seemed to be violence and much of what happened on the Terraces would shock todays kids, it was hugely exciting times. I never personally had trouble, you could always see it coming and avoid it.

Back in 1985, I did a songwriting course. It was amazing. This song was used to illustrate the perfect musical hook. If you sing "My Boy Lollypop" you just instantly hear the horn response. I used to consider myself too cool to like this song, but when I started DJ'ing I found that this got a great response. People love the song. 

Son of a Preacher Man by the Gaylettes is a wonderful version. There was a trend for Ska labels to get their artists to "Ska Up" the hits of the day. I prefer this version. Dusty is great but I love the up beat, up tempo nature of this. It works so well. It isn't well known but it is well worth a listen. 

Long Shot Kick Da Bucket by The Pioneers is such a great song. The story of losing all of your cash when the horse you backed croaks when it is running away with the race. We've all been there in some form. Thinking we are in the home straight just to see your dreams go up in smoke. I saw the Pioneers a couple of years ago, they didn't disappoint.

Finally we have the Ethiopians and Train to Skaville. It is the epitome of the late 60's/ early 70's Ska sound. The Ethiopians are another outfit only really remembered by Ska fans. Whenever I play this at Gigs people always say "I haven't heard that for years" and are made up to hear it. 

Have a great weekend!

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