For those of you who weren’t there, the Greater Toronto Area in the early 00s was a great place to see punk shows, particularly in towns like Newmarket and Aurora. From basements to bars, to Legion halls, to anywhere that could handle a decent-sized mosh pit, people would get together and cheer on all kinds of band. The lineups seemed to make sense at the time; you could have a hardcore punk band playing right after a ska band with a full horn section, and that seemed alright. Heck, it WAS alright. It was all great music, after all, and the people in the bands and in the crowds were mostly friends or people who shared similar interest.
That’s why I was surprised to learn that this harmony wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time in England, if you were a fan of either punk music, you were in a different group from the ska-lovers. The division among cultural lines could even get violent, a la Mods and Rockers in Quadrophenia. Who knew?
Anyway, there are some pretty sweet tracks from those days. I’m looking back further than the artists we might all know from the third wave, ska-core days (e.g. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, Fishbone, Sublime), so here were are, focusing on the second wave of ska, also known as the Two Tone revival from the late 70s. They’re skanking* tunes.
Madness – One Step Beyond
The vocals are cheesy. Let’s just get that out of the way. But you’re listening to this song for the music, which is prime ska from the Two-Tone era.
The Specials – Gangsters
If you’re like me, you mostly know The Specials because their song A Message to You Rudy actually gets some airplay from time to time. Well, they have other tunes. This one’s my favourite.
The Selecter – On My Radio
The poppiest (most pop?) of the bunch. I mean, this production is damn near slick.
*It’s been so long since I’ve skanked… part of me is surprised I ever danced like that. You know what skanking is, right? (Don’t click that.)
If you clicked that, well… I warned you.