Tag Archives: ska

508. Madness – “The Heavy Heavy Hits”

My pesky metaphoric time-machine failed in its bid to get me back into this millennium.

Instead I’ve spent the past week in dreary old England during the Thatcher years wearing pants that were too short and narrowly avoiding being glassed each night.

The cause of my discomfort is this compendium from Brit ska icons Madness.

I’m a little torn on my view of these guys.  Their big singles (Baggy Trousers, Our House, House of Fun, etc) are fun little party pleasers with strong ‘earworm’ tendencies (I’ve been humming them on and off all week).

Some of the rawer dance-floor oriented tunes (such as One Step Beyond) on here also capture the vibe that enthused so many lads and set off much ‘skanking’.

What surprises, however, is the how startlingly polished and almost croony much of this material sounds.  Indeed, the slower tunes are much more Bacharach than I expected. The sax and strings on Yesterday’s Men is so 80s-sleazy that I was craving a shower.

I’m sure I will throw this collection back on again in a few years’ time, but I’m done with it for now.

While I was back in the 80s, I did catch this crazy new comedy show that looks promising:

File under: Insane in a softish vein

303. Fishbone – “The Reality of My Surroundings”

I doubt there is an album in my collection which so regularly gets thrown in the CD tray for only two songs .

Album Cover CD Fishbone the Reality of my Surroundings reviewFishbone deliver two classic funk-rock tracks here, covering off on each end of the weather spectrum: Everyday Sunshine and Sunless Saturday

Both are horn-heavy jams, with fantastic rhythms and an energy that is uplifting and contagious.

I should play the whole album more regularly as it is a very cohesive set of power-funk. These guys bridge the world of Parliament and James Brown with punk-ska. As with Parliament, they are not afraid to get out the squealy rock guitar, and the riffs are even more metal-audience-friendly.

They nail anthems, with Fight the Youth and Pray to the Junkie Maker joining the aforementioned duo of gems as the sort of tracks you pray to hear in the live context.

A good mate still rates seeing them on their 1991 or 1992 Aussie tour among his best gigs here. I did eventually catch these guys live, but well after the career peak which was the masterpiece.  They still had sufficient mojo to have me querying why their fellow-LA-sters Red Hot Chilli Peppers made it big while these guys didn’t:

File under: This reality doesn’t bite