Various artists album review
Tune In - Ska & Reggae In Pop Style
28 - 07 - 2003
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
"Tune In - Ska & Reggae In Pop Style" is the second release to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Germany's ska label Grover Records following "Speechless" the instrumental ska sampler that started this row of releases, while third sampler in this row "Kingston Lounge - Cocktail Music Jamaican Style" has just been released. More on these releases and the musical fruits of 10 years of Grover can be found at Grover Records. "Tune In" is not only meant for strictly-ska fans. Compilers P. Rupprecht & Reinhild Sander's main criteria for choosing the songs of this compilation have been good songwriting, heartfelt music with charme and character. The compilation is not solely based on Grover material, but features several licensed songs, e.g. Sublime's "Santeria" and The Selecter's classic "Missing Words". "Tune In" opens with "Time To Show" by the Elmo Records (one of Grover's sublabels) act Wisecräcker, playing a very melodic poppy ska tune, beautifully sung by rapster/songstress Denise M'Baye. "Santeria" by Sublime is typical of the poppy punk ska approach from California. "Romeo" is a track by the now defunct Berlin ska band The Butlers, who have a traditional sound backing the smoky voice of their singer Wanja. They have released a CD in 2003 under the alias Lionsclub called "TV & Movie Themes". "Right Track" is a cover of the Hopeton Lewis song made famous by Phyllis Dillon, and also recorded in recent years by Dutch ska-outfit Rude Rich & The Highnotes, here performed by German ska and early rocksteady traditionalists Ska Trek, followed by another German outfit, Weinheim's Dr.Woggle & The Radio, also playing traditional ska and rocksteady, with the lovers tune "The Taste Of Your Love". Two great names of authentic Jamaican 60s ska kick in then, first the great voice of one of the real queens of ska, Studio One veteran Doreen Shaffer, doing her 1997 rerecorded "Turn Your Lamp Down Low", the song she still performs when being guest-vocalist at Skatalites shows. The man who can without exaggerating claim to be one of THE real pioneers of Jamaican music, and inventors of ska, Laurel Aitken gives us the great groovy "Dance Wid' Me, Baby" backed by Germany's Tübingen ska greats Court Jester's Crew. Austin, Texas band (hence ATX) The Stingers give us the nice rocksteady "In The End". The Stubborn Allstars' "Friend" is somewhat too poppy for my ears, but still is a nice happy-go-lucky track, I'm afraid just not all my taste. Eastern Standard Time is Washington D.C.'s most important ska band, with musicians from very different musical backgrounds (from deathmetal to hiphop), they don't hesitate to incorporate in their music, on this CD they do a more traditional ska track "Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps", that is fine, but could have been better in my opinion with a different singer, or different mix of the vocal. "She's So Fine" is a great piano-driven traditional ska tune by Kent (UK) resident's Intensified. From the ashes of German ska band The Frits rose Alpha Boys School from Bochum, a band with a sound ranging from UK 2-Tone ska - like this very clearly Specials influenced "Nothing To Loose" - through rocksteady and rockabilly to classic one drop riddims. The Hotknives are an English band who mix the authentic JA ska and rocksteady with early/middle 80s UK pop music (The Jam, The Clash, Squeeze and Madness) and "Happy Holiday" sounds like a great lost Madness track. The UK (2-Tone) style gets some more exposure with the classic "Missing Words" by the legendary Pauline Black led Selecter. What then hits your ears can only be described as something you would never have even guessed, first you might have thought what a coincidence, a track called "Litmanen", just like the Finnish soccer player, but once you know that Blaster Master are from Oulo in Finland, you might smile away your surprise. 27 Red is a young band from Münsterland - home to Germany's ska & dancehall don Dr.Ring-Ding as well - who play UK-ska influenced musik, like the selection for this album "Leaving". Ngobo Ngobo's "No One Cares" opens with a very nice piano-intro, that remains in the foreground, on this poppy ska tune, where the blend of male and female lead vocals really adds something extra to the song as does the picking, almost gypsy-guitar playing before the guitar solo. A great rendition of a superb composition, Gershwin's "Summertime" is what we are amused with by Dutch Rude & The Visser, in fact the new incarnation of what had been one of Europe's mainstays in ska music, Mr.Review, the band whose "Walking Down Brentford Road" was the first official release in 1993 on Grover Records. One of Germany's best known ska bands is featured for the second time on this album, after playing as 'just' a backing band on the Laurel Aitken track, here Court Jester's Crew deliver the goods with their own 2000 original "Have You Seen My Girl". What would an album from Münsteraner Grover Records be without Münster's own famous crew, Dr.Ring-Ding & The Senior Allstars together with Papa Jason show us on "Long Time Music" that this combination of a great vocalist with a very tight band will still be hard to match by their successors. "Tune In - Ska & Reggae In Pop Style" is a very recommendable introduction to nowadays sound of ska, and a great introduction to the catalog Grover Records built in 10 years and will be of invaluable help for especially listeners new to ska, to decide how traditional, poppy or punky they would like their ska to be served. A special mention deserves the design of the cover for being one of the best retro-covers I have seen lately, even a small 'stereo' logo is included as a kind of icing on the cake.Souljah.