Ska Blah Blah is moving!!

Posted on October 26th, 2007 by JJ Loy

Those of you reading this off of my feed won’t be too effected by this, but those that have bookmarks for http://skablahblah.com won’t find there way here for a couple of days, while I switch hosts. My email will also take a moment to reactivate.

Expect a new site, new look, and new logo in the coming week.

-JJ

Comments (0) Oct 26 2007

Ska Oddity: Tales From an Old Ska Kid

Posted on October 24th, 2007 by JJ Loy

I ran across a fun blog post while looking around the SkaSpot social network, specifically at the page of one, Dan Cowan. I was immediately drawn to his page because of his profile picture which showed him to be a few years older than your average Ska Kid. I’ve found, in my several years of chatting people up at shows, that the older fans have the real scoop on the scene’s history.

And Dan Cowan didn’t disappoint. In his post, Whot? U never ‘eard of the Villains? Cowan describes his involvement with the early ’80′s Canadian band, The Villains. The early ’80′s was a strange time, to be a Ska band, and here you get a sense of the Ska climate of that period:

At the time there were only 1 or 2 other ska bands playing in Canada. The Specials opened for the Police on a Canadian Tour and there was a very good local Vancouver ska band called the B-Sides and that was about it for Ska and Canadian Music Scene until the Villains arrived………

I love it when I hear about stuff like this. Much like NYC’s, The Terrorists, of the 70′s, The Villains were a band without a scene. Cowan describes The Villains as Ska troubadours, blazing their own path and cultivating a following through heavy touring and wild live shows…

Picture a skinhead band in full ska gear marching thru the local paper’s newsroom looking to introduce themselves to the local music critic… The Villains were a high energy, non stop action on stage dance band known for their wacky, unpredictable stage shows… At one point in the middle of a sold out show at the Commodore Ballroom, we gaffer taped our sax player to a highchair and shaved his head for an encore. Another time we put the 6 ft 6in tall guitarist on stilts making him well over 8 1/2 ft tall.

I’ve had The Villains Ep in my collection, for some time, and their cover of Wooly Bully has been included in many of my friends mixtapes. However, I’ve never quite gotten the scoop on who these guys were. They’ve always remind me a lot of the NY Citizens in sound, which makes sense. Think: post-Two Tone circus Ska.

Cowan metions a few places to find The Villains, nowadays:
-He sites ebay as the best place to find The Villains 4 song Ep. Link

-I’ve found new and used copies of their one and only full length, Go Crazy (re-issued import) at Amazon. Link

-And you can check out SkaBoom, Villain’s songwriter, Dave Neal’s new outfit. Link

Thanks to Dan Cowan for shedding some light on a band I knew nearly nothing about. I encourage you readers to check out his original post. Link

Comments (0) Oct 24 2007

Cut the Chit Chat – 05 -Ska Demos

Posted on October 23rd, 2007 by JJ Loy



This Episode of Cut the Chit Chat isn’t the pretteiest or the most accessible; I’ve made- but it’s one that I’ve been dying to make for a long time. The reason being that I’m an amateur tape trader, and I get very few excuses to show off some of my rare stuff.

If you put up with the raw mixes and the loud hisses, you’ll be rewarded with alternate takes and a backwards engineered reflection of the recording process.

The introduction to the show features what can’t be aptly described as a demo, but is just as scratchy and hard to find, as anything else in the show- Bob Marley’s Rudie Cut. I started the first set off with three rare Slackers tracks that embody their early Two-Tone style, including the earliest version of You Don’t Know I, that I’ve ever heard. I keep the sound in NY for the next couple of demos by Mephiskapheles: Doomsday and My Three Favorite Americans. The first set ends with tracks from Fishbone and The Toasters, respectively. These tracks aren’t exactly rare, but might serve as a curiosity to those who haven’t heard them before.

The next set kicks off with the Violent Femmes’ Reggae-licious demo of Please Don’t Go (compare this to the original studio version to note the progress of this amazing bass solo). A pair of Hepcat demos follows, early cuts of Nigel and Take Dat. Although, these versions have never been released, you’ll find a lot of Hepcat fans already have these tracks on their ipods. The 7 Song Demo that Hepcat made for Moon Records is standard fare for Ska bootleggers. Following right behind comes some early Specials, or rather, The Coventry Automatics. This (hornless) version of Dawning of a New Era has been released dozens of times, but is very much a rough outline of the track we all know and love. And much the same could be said of the next demo track by The Clash, Rudie Can’t Fail from the Vanilla Tapes- not hard to find, but not quite ready for the big leagues.

The final tracks are what I believe will be of most interest to my listeners- but first, a bit of history: I’m sure many of you remember when the first Give ‘em the Boot compilation dropped. Nearly every track on that $5 cd was steller, but one song stood out over all the others, in my opinion. The Silencers’ Policeman was that song- ghostly and urban, the sound was very Two-Tone, faster than The Slackers but not as Punky as Rancid. The liner notes confirmed that this was a team up between Vic Ruggiero and Tim Armstrong, and promised a forthcoming album. Years go by and still no sign of a Silencers record. Ruggiero mentions in an interview, that an albums worth of songs were, in fact, recorded an are just waiting for some attention, but also, to not hold our breath. Then, about two years ago, I found (through a P2P service) a folder labeled, Life Won’t Wait Demos. Sure enough, many of the files were early demos of songs that would end up on Life Won’t wait, but the last few in the folder were unique. They would never become Rancid songs, and they featured Ruggiero more prominently. I believe this session, the Life Won’t Wait demos, to be all there is to The Silencers rumor. But please correct me if I’m wrong. This also reconfirmed a theory of mine, that Ruggiero had a great deal of influence on Rancid’s Life Won’t Wait. To finish the show, I picked two tracks from these bootlegs, the demo for Policeman and a much lower-fi version of the Rancid B-side, Brad Logan.

Also, check out the previous episode, Ska Rap, to hear another Silencer Sessions cut, Express Yourself (an NWA cover).

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Comments (2) Oct 23 2007

Ska Online: New Yo Gabba Gabba Video

Posted on October 18th, 2007 by JJ Loy

This is the song I’ve been waiting for, since I first heard about Yo Gabba. It’s Alex from Hepcat singing with GOGO13, in an animated segment about cleaning you’re room, aptly titled, Pick It Up. Check out the apparent love of Two-Tone culture- from Rude Boy Dad, Skinhead Son and Beat Girl Daughter to Go Feet t-shirts and spinning Mod Targets.

I’ve seen dead links to this for a while now, but this is the first active one I’ve found.

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Yo Gabba is the best ska on cable since USA’s Up All Night: New Years Ska Dance Party or maybe that one time when Mtv played Mephiskapheles.

Comments (1) Oct 18 2007

Ska Online: Internet Archive.org

Posted on October 8th, 2007 by JJ Loy

I’ve been into live set trading since Ska.About.com posted a link to The Slackers 01-01-01 show. That was back when About Ska was still vital, and it had yet to be incorporated into Worldmusic.About.com. And for a while, SoulSeek was the place to find and trade live ska sets. But these days, if you want to find or share live recordings, Archive.org is the site to go to. Find the artist you like, review the set on the provided flash player, and pick your compression method, download freely and you are good to go.

Archive.org uses online tools to collect any kind of info that has fallen out of copyright. Old films and websites are compiled here, but its the Live Music Archive that I’m concentrating on, today.

Here’s some sets of interest:

The Allstonians from 1996
Camper Van Beethoven from 1985
The Toasters (2 shows)
Fishbone (5 shows)
The Slackers (3 shows)

Dub Trio (9 shows)
Dub is a Weapon (8 shows)
Antibalas (24 shows)
Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad (8 shows)
Matisyahu (94 shows)

This is several days worth of listening, and I’m sure that there’s more to be found. Browse by band and find what I didn’t.

PS – The archived link to Ska.About.com was provided by Archive.org’s Wayback Machine.

Comments (0) Oct 08 2007