Skaletons in the closet.

The other day I'm watching The Tube (thanks to the miracle of digital television signals) and what should come up but Madness' seminal classic, "One Step Beyond". For about the first thirty seconds I was bemused. It was very obvious he was lip syncing (I guess music videos hadn't been refined as of then) and the clothes were so dated. It's a little frantic and goofy, but it's classic Madness. I personally love the bassist in this video. If you watch closely you'll see Jan's clean-shaven circa 1997 doppleganger in there too. And I'll be danged if I hadn't gotten up and started skankin' around my living room by the end of it.

Go ahead, click on the link. Watch the whole thing without tapping your toes or getting up to dance. Then walk away and somehow have any other song in your head today. You can't.

Little did I know that this seemingly innocuous event would awaken a long-dormant ska freak in me. I'm ready to admit it, I was a huge ska fan in high school. Many of you already know it, but it's an important step that I admit it. It's not like I'm ashamed to know the differences between ska, rocksteady, and reggae, or that I've been living a lie for the past few years. But I've been deliberately ignoring a very large part of my music collection, dismissing it as a childish phase that I went through. And I was wrong.

Since then I've been rediscovering some of my lost treasures, especially in the car to and from work. Man, the Specials really had something going, didn't they? The Slackers, Skavoovie & the Epitones, mmm mmm mmm. I have to complain about iTunes at this point. I wanted to fill in some gaps in my collection so I tried to find three songs and only found one. I was able to locate Desmond Decker's "Israelites". Which is a relief. I heard that in Goodwill of all places a couple months ago and just about flipped out. But iTunes didn't have the aforementioned "One Step Beyond", nor Barbie Gaye's classic "My Boy Lollipop". If anyone has these songs (or knows someone who does), could you help a brutha out? Eternal gratitude awaits.

My advice to you: embrace your inner ska freak. Let the checkers out, dust off your pork-pie hat, maybe toast a little somethin' if you feel up to it. That's it for now, enjoy your Thursday and remember: Californians are people too.


Gordon said...

oh man, am i riding along in the car with matt b?!? this song rules. if i could toast i would.

i came across bumble bee tuna yesterday and sent it along to kerry. she couldn't understand why i owned it, but she liked it.

Jan said...

I can understand your excitement of refinding the good ska that is in your collection, I am sure you will also find that there is some that you used to think was good and turns out to be really REALLY bad.

On a side note, I am almost 100% positive when I say that pretty much every 2nd wave song that you like is going to have been stolen from prince buster (FABulous is just that, fabulous, but get the UK import, it has more songs on it) or toots and the maytals (that is a good one to pick up for some good tunes too).

The Specials Gangsters - is Al Capone by Prince Buster
The Specials Monkey Man - is Monkey Man by Toots and the Maytals
The Toasters Hard Band Fe Dead - is Hard Man Fed Dead by Prince Buster
Madness One Step Beyond - is One Step Beyond by Prince Buster

The list can go on and on.
BUT that doesn't mean they aren't great songs, and in lots of ways better than the originals, it is just that they are pretty much borrowed material, and I don't think any mechanicals or licensing fees were ever paid because jamaica didn't have a copyright scheme if I am not mistaken. I could be wrong on that though.

i sent you one step beyond.

if you fnd my boy lollipop, hit me back.

Jan said...

oh, and Madness' name is even from a prince buster song, called, well, Madness. heh.

Nick said...

I already knew about Prince and Toots (original Monkey Man wins hands down, in my opinion) but I just love the 2-tone sound.

Gordon said...

I'm listening to Britney Spears and it's pretty awesome too. You should check that ish out.

Anonymous said...

I also went back to my ska phase right before I went to Jamaica. After I got back I haven't been able to put the rocksteady/ska/reggae stuff down. It was amazing to hear reggae at its roots in a small Jamacian rum bar that Bob used to sit in. Talk about a trip everyone should make. So everyone go to Jamaica, rent some wicked scooters, and head to the mountains to spend time with the Mountain Men/Rastafarians. You'll learn a lot.