Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Review - Various Artists "Ska Is Dead" compilation

“Ska Is Dead” is a compilation of North American ska music by Asian Man Records. Because I respect Mike Park for all that he has done for indie music as well as his stance on social issues, I really wanted to give “Ska Is Dead” a glowing review.

But I can’t. Having only liked 11 out of 23 tracks, an “E for Effort” is really the best I can muster.

So what did I like?

This album starts off promising with a Specials-esque track by Big D & The Kids Table called “Noise Complaint”. Other bands that I liked include: The Toasters, Deal’s Gone Bad, The Pietasters, King Django, Westbound Train, and Chris Murray. I was pleasantly surprised by The Planet Smasher’s track, “Raise Your Glass”. And the real treat on this album is the hard-to-find track, “Too Big For Your Boots” by The Porkers.

The biggest problem I have with this album is the same one I have with many American bands: taking a punk band, adding a horn section, and calling yourselves “ska”. The liner notes on the back are a stark contrast to many of the tracks within. “This album presents SKA – original and indigenous…” Well, maybe to Orange County, but certainly not Orange Street. This album is stuck in Third Wave, and it’s really high time for America to realize that it’s not 1997 anymore. I found myself skipping way too many tracks to find this album satisfying.

Many ska fans under the age of 21 will “no doubt” find this album to be the best thing since sliced bread. Those over 21 will likely be disappointed. But at the end of the day, having only paid $6.99 for the album, it’s not like I didn’t get my money’s worth. And so, on that point alone, I can recommend buying this album.

Still, if this compilation is a measure of the American ska scene, then maybe ska really is dead. And that’s a shame because the rest of the world is putting out some really great ska music.
To hear some, check out this podcast: Pop-Punk-With-Horns Is Dead!


  1. I hate it when people reject progress, don't you?

  2. And you will most likely not approve that last comment because you have your nose too high in the air to accept that music is going to change. It would get boring if every band kept going with the same formula. It's jerks like you who keep ska dead. Not letting it proceed along is just pushing it into the grave.

  3. Thank you for assuming everyone under 21 is mindless, by the way. You were probably pretty stupid yourself then, but don't speak for everyone.

  4. What's progress?

    Certainly not going back to the sounds of 1997...


What do you think?