Jools Holland is a Ska Nut

Posted on June 1st, 2010 by JJ Loy

Boogie Woogie pianist and enthusiast, Jools Holland has been making music for years.  Having recorded 20-some-odd albums, and supported some of the top musicians in the world with his session work, Holland has most recently been focused on his musical television series, Later With Jools Holland.

I first heard of Jools when I bought my copy of his 2005 record, Swinging the Blues, Dancing the Ska- which I found to be quite lacking in the Ska dept.  No matter, it was a fine helping of Boogie Woogie, and besides, he’s proven his love for ska in other ways.

From his show, Later With Jools Holland, here’s a few samples of Holland’s more ska-leaning guests, starting with Desmond Dekker:

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The Specials – Little Bitch 11/04/09

Rico Rodriguez – L.O.V.E. 01/01/09

Madness – Forever Young 04/24/09

Comments (1) Jun 01 2010

Winehouse Does The Ska

Posted on July 7th, 2008 by JJ Loy

Earlier this year, I followed a link to an underdeveloped MySpace page that boasted some Specials covers by the retro-licous, Amy Winehouse.  These not-so-impressive tracks were obviously demos and weren’t worth repeated listenings- let alone an official release.  That’s why I wasn’t in too big of a hurry to check out what’s been described as her Ska EP, when I read about it here and here.

Man, was I wrong.  Winehouse’s versions of Monkey Man, Hey Little Rich Girl, You’re Wondering Now and Cupid are clean and polished- spic and span.  Cupid is done as an upbeat Reggae tune while the others are arranged a lot like the Specials’ versions, but Winhouse’s vocal flourishes save the tracks from feeling unnecesarry.

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But the tracks from iTunes from the Back to Black B-Sides Collection

Or if you want The Ska EP for Free.

Comments (3) Jul 07 2008

Rumor Becomes News – Specials Will Reunite

Posted on May 27th, 2008 by JJ Loy

You’ve no doubt heard the rumors buzzing around the past few months regarding a full reunion of the Two Tone legends, The Specials.  I had always heard that any Specials reunion will never be complete due to longstanding personal feuds that go back nearly 30 years.  I’ve seen Golding fronted reunions dissolve into screaming matches with the crowd;  I’ve heard unimpressive live stuff from the Special Beat, in recent years; and who could forget the train wreck that was Today’s Specials- but a full member reunion might recapture that magic of ’79- maybe.

This video has given me a pinch of hope:

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Comments (0) May 27 2008

Slackers Interview on

Posted on March 31st, 2008 by JJ Loy

No, no.  Not another Slackers interview from Ska Blah Blah, but this two part show is so great that I have to direct your attention to it.  Don’t let the non-English website and show introduction fool you, the interview is conducted in English and is chock full of wonderfully selected Slackers and Specials music.  Thanks to Martin for hipping me to this.

Road Rush on’s Interview with Vic and Dave from The Slackers:

Part 1

Part 2

Comments (0) Mar 31 2008

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