Picture the scene, I’m Sat watching BBC 4 (someone has to) and on comes out of the blue (not entirely) Roots, Reggae, Revolution, an absolute classic fronted by Akala, an in-depth analysis of the history of reggae and how Ska came forth from the Dancehall.
Sitting where it began as something that came out of necessity, through times of struggles, designed and delivered to help lift up the community sending forth a huge message both political and social. Further down the line it drifted with real Roots reggae taking hold, sat simmering in the background until it leapt to prominence again in the late seventies/early eighties under the banner of Two Tone. Now if we look at music and cross genres, Rock and Roll always preached rebellion, looking down on an older generation, Punk spat not just Anarchy but a sense of Nihilism, whereas Two Tone (Ska) preached togetherness, Black and White united against a social structure where the far right were at their most active. The message cutting forward against a Thatcherite Britain, promoting togetherness, kicking against austerity measures and giving a clear message through infectious rhythms and well-voiced opinions.
Leaders of the movement The Specials, The Beat, The Selector all still going great guns now, or should I say all re-ignited given their voice back through those same issues coming full circle, the far right rising, Brexit looming and the need for the musical underground to find a voice. Taking the sound on mutating it and adding a hint of Anarchy was always going to be a good thing so it stood to reason that Ska was going to infiltrate the Punk underground for its next stage of development.
Now over the last four/five years I’ve really immersed myself in the sound and one band that look set to cross over into the mainstream has to be The Bar Stool Preachers, skanking out of Brighton I’ve ended up in conversation with vocalist TJ McFaul on a number of occasions raved about both their LP’s Blatant Propaganda and Grazie Governo both of which you can pick up here Bar Stool Preachers live they put on an amazing show and second LP Grazie Governo should be the one to launch them into the big time, if you can get bigger than playing to 15,000 across Europe supporting Die Totenhausen. You might not have heard of them? I suggest you rectify the matter, check it out
Next up if that really takes your fancy bounce along to The Popes of Chillitown again a band simmering away tearing up venues nationwide whether you pick up the first LP A word to the wise (it was a pledge release) their sophomore LP To the Moon or the new LP Work hard, Play hard See you in the Graveyard you will not be disappointed All of which you can pick up here :-
Popes Of Chillitown these are a must-see live act, ripping through Reggae/Ska/Dub/Punk/Hip-Hop and Drum and Bass all done with an infectious smile, check it out
Now you might be starting to build one of those recommended playlists if your streaming this stuff, which granted most people do nowadays, but what you really should be doing is supporting the bands not the streaming platforms, get on the website or better still buy at a gig, you might even manage to get it signed!!!
Next up has to be Skaciety bouncing out of Kent they released an absolutely blinding LP Overstaying our welcome you can pick it up here
Bandcamp again yet another band tearing up stages across the UK, check them out
Sitting on the TNS roster of bands next up Faintest Idea released an LP that absolutely tears your face off called the Minimum Rage, followed up by the second LP The Voice of Treason politically in your face and with a real hardcore edge this attacks the genre from a different angle, still ska undoubtedly but leaning more towards a real punk/ political edge. You can pick both up here
By now your either bouncing around the room or wondering why the fuck haven’t I listened to these bands before, take a breath there are many more what about The Skints, Random Hand, Call me Malcolm, Complicated men of Leisure, Captain Accident and the Disasters to mention just a few more. Or if you want to look further afield what about the mighty Interrupters?
or the band I’m going to leave you with Jaya the Cat? Here come the Drums indeed!! Enjoy go ahead and discover your new favourite band. As with everything the biggest fun you’ll ever have in this musical world is discovering something new.
BSP pic by Dod Morrison