Friday, May 13, 2022

NYC Ska Calendar #3 Spring/Summer 2022

Sister Nancy sings into a microphone on stage.
Sister Nancy
Friday, May 13, 2022 @ 10:00 pm

Brooklyn Dub Club, Chapter IV: What a Bam Bam!

Sister Nancy (JA), Mungo's HiFi featuring Gardna (Scotland), Bukkah (Spain), Bent Backs Sound featuring JonnyGo Figure (BK), El Grand Latido Sound System (Colombia), Dub-Stuy & Hilla Bundem (NYC)

Brooklyn Monarch
23 Meadow Street
Brooklyn, NY
Tix: $20

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Saturday, May 14, 2022 @ 7:00 pm

Playing Dead, War Honey, Barbicide, Skappository

Ridgewood Presbyterian Church
59-14 70th Ave
Queens, NY
(Closest subway stops are the Forest Ave. M line or the Halsey St. L line)
$10/All ages

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Friday, May 20, 2022 @ 8:00 pm

DJ Gorilla & Scenic present: Beat Brigade, Eastern Function, Sweet Babylon, Eye Defy

Bushwick Party House
1288 Myrtle Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10 in advance/$12 day of show
21+

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Saturday, May 21, 2022 @ 7:00 pm

Authentic Productions NYC & The Kingsland present: Hub City Stompers, The Prowlers (Montreal), The Press, The Ladrones, Execütors

Sovereign SmokeHouse
173 Morgan Ave
Brooklyn, NY
$20 adv / $25 dos
18+

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Sunday, May 22, 2022 @ 5:00 pm

The Apple Stomp presents: Big D & the Kids Table, J Navarro & The Traitors, Sgt. Scag, Brunt of It, The Pandemics

The Gramercy Theatre
127 East 23rd Street
Manhattan, NY
Tix: $25/16+

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Friday, May 27, 2022 @ 8:00 pm

Subway to Skaville presents: Stop the Presses, Flying Racoon Suit, Stuck Lucky, Megawatt (plus DJ Ryan Midnight)

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street (between Avenues A & B)
Manhattan/Alphabet City
21+/No cover, but bring $ for band bucket

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Friday, June 17, 2022 @ 8:00 pm

Subway to Skaville presents: The Freecoasters, Beat Brigade, Donut City (plus DJ Ryan Midnight & DJ Duff Guy)

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street (between Avenues A & B)
Manhattan/Alphabet City
21+/No cover, but bring $ for band bucket

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Thursday, May 5, 2022

Duff Review: Ska Singles Going Steady: Ska Jazz Messengers and Travelers All Stars

The cover illustration features a skinhead girl in a space suit floating in space shooting a ray gun that emits hearts at a skinhead boy in a space suit.
(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

In the wake of their incredible 2020 Introspección LP (which I reviewed here), Venezuela's Ska Jazz Messengers have released a sweet early reggae version (via Lloyd Charmers) of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions' "It's Alright" b/w their own song "Aunque Todo No Esté Bien," which translates to: "even if everything is not alright" (7" vinyl picture sleeve single/digital, Liquidator Music, 2021; ska fans in the US can order the 45 and other Liquidator releases through Beat Surrender Records in Portland, OR).

"It's Alright" was, of course, featured in the Pixar movie Soul (and was performed by Jon Batiste) and follows a string of great SJM covers of pop tracks by Pharrell Williams ("Happy"), Bruno Mars/CeeLo Green ("Forget You"), and Carole King ("It's Too Late").

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Mexico's Travelers All Stars' new single "Love in the Stars" b/w "Weekend Lover" (7" vinyl picture sleeve single/digital, Chez Nobody Records, 2022) is another fantastic set of luminous, organ-drenched, instrumental skinhead reggae cuts (read my review of their "Reggae Gordo for Days and Extra Days!" single here). Spin these space-age reggae tracks to brighten your mood (or get in the mood) or shake some action on the dance floor!

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Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Duff Review: Perkie & The Co-operators "(Mumma Was a) Bankrobber" b/w "Dubbers Delight"

The single's paper label includes the Happy People Records logo, as well as the name of the act and title of the song.
(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

I'm always crazy for well-done Clash covers and the boss new single from Perkie & The Co-operators, "(Mumma Was a) Bankrobber" (7" vinyl single, Happy People Records, 2022), is no exception. According to Tony Fletcher's book The Clash: The Music That Matters, after London Calling--which was a bit too America-centric and American-sounding for many UK fans and some in the British music press (though the record was a bit hit in the USA because of it all)--The Clash intended to release a series of singles in 1980 in the UK to placate all the disgruntled naysayers.

Initially (and bizarrely), CBS refused to release "Bankrobber" as a single and only did so after it appeared on a B-side in Holland and sold rapidly as an import in UK record shops. Once it was issued as an A-side in the UK, it shot up the charts to the #12 position. Sadly, The Clash decided to scrap the rest of the series of singles, even though they were vindicated in their selection of "Bankrobber." Instead, they then decamped to NYC to record the magnificent, if messy, triple-LP Sandinista.

As much as I love "Bankrobber," I have to admit to never examining the lyrics of this song closely (I could always make out the chorus, but Strummer's oftentimes ragged enunciation obscured some of the verses for me--I always thought "someday you'll meet your rocking chair" was "someday you'll meet your rocketeer" and couldn't make out the rest of that verse!). In addition to being another in a long string of Clash rude boy/rebel/outlaw-glorifying tracks (see "Guns on the Roof," "Rudie Can't Fail," "Guns of Brixton," "I Fought the Law," and many others), "Bankrobber" slips in a fiercely anti-capitalist message about the exploitation of workers--which sort of provides a rationale for the banditry, but definitely gives it much more depth and meaning. (And the bankrobber's gender has been switched for this cover because women can be just as equal opportunity bad-ass and rebellious as men...)

Mumma was a bankrobber
But she never hurt nobody
She just loved to live that way
And she loved to steal your money

Some is rich, and some is poor
And that's the way the world is
But I don't believe in laying back
Sayin' how bad your luck is

So, she came to jazz it up
Never learned to shovel
Break your back to earn our pay
Don't forget to grovel

Old girl spoke up in a bar
Said, "I never been in prison
A lifetime serving one machine
Is ten times worse than prison"


Perkie's laid-back/matter-of-fact and almost delicate delivery can be read as world-weary--certainly not a bad thing since it contrasts so well with the crisp, bright 'n' brisk music underpinning it.

The flip, a take of sorts on "Rockers Delight," is a sweet dub version of the A-side, with long instrumental stretches ripe for toasting over when the soundsytem is set up, should anyone be up to the task.

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Additional reading: Check out my reviews of Perkie & The Co-operators' "Concrete, Steel, and Stone" single, The Co-operators & Friends' LP Beating the Doldrums, and the Phoenix City All-stars' LP Clash Version Rockers

Fun fact: Tony Fletcher also wrote the liner notes that appear on the back of The Toasters' Thrill Me Up LP.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Duff Review: Out of Control Army "From Mexico to the World"

The cover illustration features a cat headed version of The Specials' Walt Jabsco leaning on a Vespa scooter in front of a wall of speakers.Black or white vinyl LP
Jump Up Records
2022

(Review by Steve Shafer)

By all indications, the Mexican ska scene is massive, and the reason you've seen top name ska acts (like Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Madness, The Selecter, and Bad Manners) bypass much of the US in favor of playing festivals there. With this in mind, Jump Up's Chuck Wren, who seems to have his finger on the pulse of every ska scene, has just released a killer new compilation from Mexico City's Out of Control Army (led by Deals Olan, who's played with The Toasters and Bad Manners) titled From Mexico to the World

For this release, Wren selected some of the best cuts from Out of Control Army's three most recent albums (Cat Nation (2018), The Spooky Ska Orchestra (2019), and Una Noche En Las Piramides (2021)) that reflect the band's love of--and great proficiency in---British 2 Tone and '60s Jamaican ska. Highlights include brass-heavy, Scofflaws-like original instrumentals like "El Chulo" (which features a beautiful piano intro; its title translates to 'bad-ass,' among other meanings), "One Note Samba," and "Tenor Madness"--and the pumped-up, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra ska-jazz of "Lilith." 

Out of Control Army also ratchets things up with raucous, knees-up 2 Tone ska tracks, such as "Unity" (with King Hammond--who declares, "we are living in troubled times, what the world needs now is love, love and unity!"--and Los Furios), "We Do The Ska" (with Neville and Sugary Staple, and members of Oreskaband and Kingston Rudieska), and "Global Ska." There's even some lounge-y, Rat Pack ska with their cover of "Just a Gigolo" and the big band-sounding "My Darling."

All in all, Out of Control Army's From Mexico to the World is a blast and shouldn't be missed!

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Bonus cut: Check out Checkerphil, the host of the long-running Manhattan cable access music show Checkerboard Kids, along with Deals Olan and Daniela from Inspecter 7, in the new Out of Control Army video for "Dance Jerico!" that was shot on various locations in NYC.

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Monday, April 25, 2022

Duff Review/Ska Singles Going Steady: Eric Blowtorch & The Bodyguards, King Kong 4, Smoke & Mirrors Soundsystem

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)
The cover features an illustration of the palm-side of a hand with light radiating from it.

Eric Blowtorch is always doing interesting and unconventional things out in his home base in Milwaukee. For the past decade or so, Blowtorch has been on my radar with incredible releases like 2018's 12" EP Horace Andy backed by Welders "Straight To Hell" and Big Youth backed by Welders "Pair of Dice" b/w Horace Andy v. Big Youth "Asylum Seekers" and Eric Blowtorch "Christmas in Ladbroke Grove" (read my review here) and 2021's triple LP (!) Quality Items (read my review here). But I feel like a dope for not realizing much sooner that I've heard his stuff going back to the '90s with his involvement with Highball Holiday (who released an album on Moon's Ska Satellite Records imprint that I ran and were featured on my comp Skarmageddon 3; and Highball Holiday are now back in action, by the way!).

With an opening guitar riff borrowed from Andy & Joey's "You're Wondering Now," Blowtorch & co.'s great digital single "Sanctuary City," is about welcoming refugees on America's southern border fleeing dictatorships and drug gangs ("Come one, come all/Lift your heart/Crack open the wall/Gunmen on the other side/But maybe love and amnesty, too/Sanctuary city opens/Millions of arms to you"). This track, released just weeks into Russia's appalling invasion of Ukraine, takes on even more significance with millions more people fleeing chaos, death, and destruction in their home countries. The question remains if America can ever find its bearings again to champion human rights and fully welcome and embrace large numbers of refugees from around the world, no matter what their color or religion. ("You're wondering how you should pay/For the way you did behave," indeed.) A portion of this single's proceeds is being donated to the International Rescue Committee, which was founded in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein (a refugee himself) to help people fleeing fascism in Germany, Italy, and Spain.

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It's really heartening to see singer/songwriter extraordinaire Mitch Girio return with new music from his incredible King Kong 4. It's been two years since Punch It, KK4's brilliant compilation of singles, was released by Jump Up (read my review here), and during this period Girio suffered from a virus that caused some sort of brain injury. Thankfully, he's recovered and back in action. This time out, in his fantastically searing "Paper Sky" digital single, Girio sings about an embattled relationship where there's no shelter from the biting lyrics or the metaphorical bombs that rain from above (I can't help from associating this song with nuclear war with Putin's recent threats to use the bomb):

Here we go as we run for cover
Somewhere underneath a paper sky
Is there a place that's the same for lovers
Who never really try?

And you will give your word
Then try to break it


This ska-rock track--shades of Emotional Fascism (aka Armed Forces) era Costello--culminates with an unexpected and thrilling, kick-ass instrumental outro.

Girio also has contributed a hauntingly lovely cover of Umbrella Heaven's "Soulmate" ("Breaking my back for you/You never asked me to") to Perverted Pleasures, a new tribute album to this cult 1990s UK indie rock band. 

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Smoke & Mirrors Soundsystem's quest for world dominance continues with a cracking new single released on Steady Beat Recordings. (If you don't believe me, check out the slew of records that have come out since their debut 2021 album Strength in Numbers--singles on Badasonic ("Second That Emotion" b/w "Mad World"--read my review here), Liquidator ("Mi Vida Sin Tu Amor" b/w "I'm a Man"--read my review here), and a forthcoming 12" on Jump Up Records featuring Roy Ellis and Monty Nesmith.) As Luis Correa's Steady Beat often focuses on Latin sounds, Smoke & Mirrors Soundsystem's new 7" picture sleeve single features two super crisp Spanish-language Latin ska cuts: John Roy's original "Nadie Te Lo Hizo" b/w a cover of Willie Colón and Hector Lavoe's 1973 salsa cut "El Dia de me Suerte." The theme running through this release is essentially that you should seize the day (side A's title in English is "Nobody Did It To You"; the flip is "My Lucky Day," a tale of passivity in the face of life-long woe: "Soon my lucky day will come/I know before my death/My luck will surely change"). With a never-ending pandemic, worsening global warming, and the looming specter of WWIII, it's probably time to lead your best life while you can. Everybody's got an expiration date.

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Thursday, April 7, 2022

Duff Review: The Clash & Ranking Roger "Rock the Casbah" b/w "Red Angel Dragnet"

The cover features a young, smiling Ranking Roger wearing a wide-brimmed hat.Editor's note: On May 20, 2022, Sony/BMG is releasing an limited edition, picture sleeve 7" single of "Rock the Casbah" b/w "Red Angel Dragnet" that features The Beat's Ranking Roger (RIP) toasting over these cuts. Previously, these tracks only have been available as bootlegs, one of which I reviewed back in 2013. So, I'm reposting this review for anyone who may be interested in picking up the legit version. I should also mention that an expanded 3xLP and 2XCD version of The Clash's Combat Rock with a few unreleased cuts is being issued at the same time.

Ska Boots Series
2013
Fuschia vinyl 7" record (with Go Feet paper label)

(Review by Steve Shafer)

God, if these two tracks had seen the light of day back in 1982--say on a 12" single, which were all the rage in the 80s--my head probably would have exploded from the sheer euphoria of experiencing this union of The Clash and The English Beat (two of my favorite bands, both then and now). Truth be told, I didn't even know that these demos existed until I read about them in the Marco on the Bass blog last summer. But it makes complete sense that some sort of collaboration was inevitable between these bands, as they both loved and successfully mined similar musical territory in ska and reggae.


Whether due to some wonderful cosmic coincidence or a brilliant pairing concocted by an unusually savvy promoter, The Clash and The Beat shared the stage for seven shows in Paris at the Theatre Mogador in September 1981 and the bands got on so well that The Clash invited Ranking Roger to toast during their covers of Willie Williams' "Armagideon Time" and Junior Murvin's "Police and Thieves" for the duration of the Paris residency (and a few years later, Mick Jones joined Dave Wakeling's and Ranking Roger's post-Beat group, General Public, though he almost immediately departed to form Big Audio Dynamite with Don Letts). When it came time to record The Clash's follow-up to the extraordinary Sandinista, Strummer and Jones invited Ranking Roger to toast on two of their new cuts, "Red Angel Dragnet" and "Rock the Casbah." Initially, the title for this post-Vietnam War-obsessed double album was Rat Patrol from Ft. Bragg and Mick Jones handled all of the producing and mixing. However, when the rest of the band heard the results, they were less than thrilled--and classic rock pro Glyn Johns, who had produced albums for The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Eagles, amongst others, was brought it to finish the job (with only Strummer at his side). In the process, the double album was culled down a single LP and retitled Combat Rock (and the Rat Patrol mixes were later repeatedly bootlegged and now can be found, of course, on the internet).

The unnamed Brits behind the Ska Boots series (which has released ska and reggae covers/tracks by Joe Strummer, Amy Winehouse, The Specials, Madness, Lily Allen, No Doubt, Billy Bragg, Ian Dury, The Pogues, Jools Holland, Eddie Vedder, and a pre-Madonna Madonna) have released Mick Jones' demo mixes of the sweet, dubby extended versions of "Red Angel Dragnet" and "Rock the Casbah" with Ranking Roger toasting over these cuts. While the sound quality is what you would expect for a demo--and Roger's vocals aren't fully integrated into the mix of these songs, they're riding on top--I doubt most Clash/Beat fans will mind, since it's so cool to have these versions in such a nice, tangible package. (Cheeky of them to use the Go Feet paper label for this bootleg, but it works well and in plays out a crossover fantasy that I'm sure exists in many a fan's mind.)

Of the two cuts here, the "Taxi Driver"/Guardian Angels/Jack the Ripper mash up "Red Angel Dragnet" works better; there's more menace in Roger's chatting and vocal effects--and it's far more effective than Kosmo Vinyl's Travis Bickle imitation (though here I miss his recitation of "One of these days, I'm going to get myself organizized" that appears right before the end fade of the Combat Rock version of this song). Also, the loping song structure of "Red Angel Dragnet"--somewhere between reggae and rockabilly, courtesy of Paul Simonon's songwriting--lends itself better to a dub version and gives Roger the space to do his thing. I've always had a soft spot for this deep album cut, as it taps into and reflects the seamier, lawless, and dangerous side of New York City in the early 80s (and celebrates a movie that revels in it) that was very real to me. I was seeing Curtis Sliwa's red windbreaker and beret outfitted Guardian Angels (the police shooting of Guardian Angel Frank Melvin inspired Strummer's lyrics for this song) who were citizen patrolling the grimy and decrepit (but sometimes stunning) subways I had been riding alone since fifth grade beneath the burning South Bronx, back and forth between Manhattan and Yonkers, and I had survived my infrequent, but unpleasant and nerve-wracking trips through Times Square, which was packed with porno theaters and heavily populated with con artists, drug dealers, and pimps and prostitutes--all of whom were depicted pretty accurately in Martin Scorcese's vigilante movie "Taxi Driver."

Lyrically, Ranking Roger's toasting in "Red Angel Dragnet" makes reference to the horrifying January 14, 1983 London Metropolitan Police ambush and shooting of Stephen Waldorf, whom they thought was escaped prisoner David Martin (it should be noted that Combat Rock was released in May of 1982--so this track could not have been part of the pre-Glyn Johns Mick Jones mixes). Roger also refers to the very real threat of the Cold War and nuclear annihilation in the early 80s (a few years earlier, the UK government had disclosed that American cruise missiles with nuclear warheads were being stored on British air force bases and could be launched against the Soviets from British soil; this, of course, made England an obvious target for the Russians in the event of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers): "Di Russian, di American/Dem both have a plan/and if we no careful/They involve a England/So what's the worry?/It's the cruise missile/Cause if we not careful/We end up in a pile." Not surprisingly, Roger makes a plea for "love and unity" at the end of the song, which was a repeated (and very much worthwhile) theme during his tenure with The Beat (see "Stand Down Margaret").

Mega-hit "Rock the Casbah" (The Clash's only top 10 single in the USA)--music by Topper Headon, lyrics by Strummer that were inspired by Iran's new(ish) religious fundamentalism that severely cracked down on popular music, amongst many other things--is almost too tightly wound of a pop/dance song for Ranking Roger's toasting; the backing track is too busy and dense. Having said that, it's still a great version of this song that should have been further developed (like "Red Angel Dragnet") and released back in the day. The audience was there and eager for this kind of experimentation, though the band (Strummer, in particular) was more focused on making a more mainstream hit album that would generate the financial reward and true fame in the USA that had eluded them (see Tony Fletcher's "The Clash: The Music That Matters"). I cringed when I learned that they were opening for classic rock dinosaurs The Who at Shea Stadium in Queens on the Combat Rock tour and didn't even try to go see them because of it. It's too bad that The Clash couldn't split the difference between Strummer's rock star ambitions and Jones' desire to further explore musical avenues in hip hop and reggae (and that Topper Headon couldn't quit the drugs and rejoin the band). They should have realized both the hit pop album and released Jonesie's more experimental dub/alternate versions as related singles--and maybe this might even have kept the band together long enough to release one more great Clash album with (most of) the original band (instead, we had to settle for Big Audio Dynamite's good to great Strummer/Jones collaboration in No. 10, Upping St. in 1986).

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Saturday, March 5, 2022

Record Store Day 2022: Ska & Reggae Releases

The cover illustration features the members of Madness on a city street, with one of the members comically stretching out his baggy trousers.As Chuck Wren told me--and you'll see below--this year's crop of ska and reggae RSD releases are pretty "sparse" (and some of them are not being released on Saturday, April 23, but on June 18). If you want to avoid the RSD price gouging (which is likely to be even more outrageous as there are shortages of PVC and other LP supplies) and boycott the majors for bullying their way to front of the lines at the vinyl pressing plants, keep your eye out for Jump Up's surprise, non-official RSD ska releases to be announced/for sale that same day.

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US 2022 RSD Ska & Reggae Releases

Jimmy Cliff: Follow My Mind LP (LAW Records)
Madness: Baggy Trousers 12” (BMG)
Various Artists: 100% DYNAMITE! Ska, Soul, Rocksteady & Funk in Jamaica 2 x LP (Soul Jazz)
Various Artists: Greensleeves Ganja Anthems LP (VP Records)
Various Artists: Love Is All I Bring 2 xLP (Trojan) (6/18/22 release)
Various Artists: Soul Power ’68 LP (Trojan)
Various Artists: Studio One Classics 2 x LP (Soul Jazz)

UK 2022 RSD Ska & Reggae Releases

Alpha & Omega: Tree of Life, Volumes 1 & 2 LPs (Mania Dub)
Joseph Cotton: Zoom Zoom Shaka Tacka LP (Room in the Sky)
Fun Boy Three: The Best of Fun Boy Three LP (Chrysalis) (6/18/22 release)
Madness: Baggy Trousers 12” (BMG) (6/18/22 release)
Mikey Dread: “The Gun” b/w "Jah Jah Style" 10” (Music on Vinyl)
Peter Tosh: Complete Captured Live 2 x LP (Rhino)
Various Artists: 100% DYNAMITE! Ska, Soul, Rocksteady & Funk in Jamaica 2 x LP (Soul Jazz)
Various Artists: Greensleeves Ganja Anthems LP (VP Records)
Various Artists: Love Is All I Bring 2 xLP (Trojan) (6/18/22 release)
Various Artists: Soul Power ’68 LP (Trojan)
Various Artists: Studio One Classics 2 x LP (Soul Jazz)

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Friday, March 4, 2022

Duff Review: Flying Vipers "Green & Copper: The First Two Tapes"

The cover features an illustration of a viper with wings and its forked tongue sticking out.
Vinyl LP (green or copper vinyl)
Jump Up Records/Music ADD Records
2022

Editor’s note: Since the Flying Vipers’ first two cassette-only releases were just issued on colored vinyl for the first time by Jump Up Records and Music ADD Records, it seems like a good idea to revisit my reviews of each of these tapes! 

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

[The Green Tape; review originally published September 21, 2015] 

Brothers John and Marc Beaudette (the former on bass, guitar, and melodica; the later on drums and percussion) from Boston's mighty roots reggae outfit Destroy Babylon have teamed up with keyboardist Zack Brines from Pressure Cooker for a new dub project titled Flying Vipers--which is inspired by the incredible analog dub reggae of the 1970s and early 1980s produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry, Keith Hudson, King Tubby, Dennis Bovell, Scientist, and many others.

In seeking to capture that spirit, sound, and vision for their own original tracks, Flying Vipers recorded their instrumentals on an old-school, Tascam 8-track cassette console (and performed using vintage drums, bass, and keyboards). The final dub mix (by Jay Champany of Truth and Rights) was recorded live on the same Tascam deck, utilizing classic dub techniques and effects--and the results are really pretty phenomenal (and having Kevin Metcalfe, who has worked with David Bowie, The Clash, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Dr. Alimantando, UB40, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru, Prince Far I, and others, master the final mixes certainly must have helped!).

Flying Vipers' The Green Tape contains six fantastic tracks of tangibly warm, vibrant, and crisp dub instrumentals with great melodies--earworms, really--that will move your body and elevate your mood. My favorite cut here, "Beacon Street Version," features a lilting, very Rico-like trombone melody on a song that sounds like it could have been off Warieka Dub. Other great touches abound throughout the tape--from the jazzy, bell-like sound of the Fender Rhodes on the lovely "Bell Crickets," to the haunting melodica lines on the slow spooling of "Tape Hiss," as well as the urgent and slightly dangerous "Dragon Snout," to the trippy, wah-wah pedal effects on the guitar line of "Cannabaceae" (which is a family of small flowering plants including Cannabis and Humulus, or hops), and the tension on display between the relaxed sax and the hyper, almost martial percussion in "Coffee Kush" (yes, apparently a strain of coffee-flavored marijuana now exists--does one have the Pavlovian jolt from the taste of coffee, but then mellow out when the THC kicks in?).

My only complaint about this release is that I want more of it. For now, hook up your dad's old tape deck to the stereo or bid on a used Sony Walkman on eBay--and then have someone over forty show you how to insert the cassette (and enjoy)!

[The Copper Tape; review originally published on April 2, 2017] 

This is the second release from Boston's mighty Flying Vipers, which is comprised of members of Destroy Babylon and Pressure Cooker, who specialize in '70s-sounding instrumental roots reggae and dub recorded on analog equipment that reminds this reviewer most strongly of Dennis Bovell's output. The Vipers create incredible, mesmerizing dub tracks that never quite deconstruct things to the point where the tune is entirely lost--melody is everything here (like on all Bovell productions). I love this whole tape (eight cuts on the cassette), but standout tracks for me include the sublimely ethereal "Smoke and Dagger" (paging Jackie Mittoo!), the Western reggae-ish "Heady Topper Headon" (of course, named after The Clash's phenomenal drummer), and the mysterious Lee Perry-like "Return of the Living Zero" (which rely on organ, melodica, and clavinet respectively to carry each song's tune). You may think me bold, but Flying Vipers' The Copper Tape is most likely the best new dub release you'll hear all year.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022

NYC Ska Calendar #2 Winter/Spring/Summer 2022

Prince Buster appears in a suit in various photos, including playing some percussion and posing with several women.
The Prince
Saturday, March 19, 2022 @ 8:00 pm

Subway to Skaville & Electric Avenue present King Django, Sonic Libido, Barbicide (plus DJs Ryan Midnight and Duff Guy)

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street, between Avenues A and B
New York, NY
21+/No cover (but bring tips for band bucket!)

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Saturday, April 16, 2022 @ 7:00 pm

DJ Gorilla & Scenic Present: Ska Punky Reggae Party with Vinny & The Hooligans, Skappository, Ensamble Calavera, But, Pyrite

Bushwick Party House
1288 Myrtle Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Tix: $10/21+

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Friday, April 22, 2022 @ 7:00 pm

The Kingsland presents Mephiskapheles, Mustard Plug, Catbite

The Brooklyn Monarch
23 Meadow Street
Brooklyn, NY
16+/$20 in advance, $25 day of show

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Saturday, May 21, 2022 @ 7:00 pm

Authentic Productions NYC & The Kingsland present: Hub City Stompers, The Prowlers (Montreal), The Press, The Ladrones, Execütors

Sovereign SmokeHouse
173 Morgan Ave
Brooklyn, NY
$20 adv / $25 dos
18+

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Sunday, May 22, 2022 @ 5:00 pm

The Apple Stomp presents Big D & the Kids Table, J Navarro & The Traitors, Sgt. Scag, Brunt of It, The Pandemics

The Gramercy Theatre
127 East 23rd Street
Manhattan, NY
Tix: $25/16+

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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

NYC Ska Calendar #1 Winter/Spring/Summer 2022

Blondie singer Debbie Harry is dressed as a rude girl, with pork pie hat, white shirt and skinny tie, and flight jacket.
Debbie Harry, rude girl, 1979 (photo by Brian Aris)
Reminder: You'll need to show proof of vaccination (plus ID) for entry to these venues.

Saturday, February 12, 2022 @ 9:00 pm

Beat Brigade

The Bitter End
147 Bleecker Street
New York, NY
18+/$10

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Saturday, February 19, 2022 @7:00 pm

Skappository, Winter Wolf (HC/punk), Barbicide

The Hideout
8415 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY
21+/No cover

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Saturday, March 19, 2022 @ 8:00 pm

Subway to Skaville & Electric Avenue present Barbicide, Sonic Libido, + TBA (plus DJs Ryan Midnight and Duff Guy)

Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street, between Avenues A and B
New York, NY
21+/No cover (but bring tips for band bucket!)

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Friday, April 22, 2022 @ 7:00 pm

Mephiskapheles, Mustard Plug, Catbite

The Brooklyn Monarch
23 Meadow Street
Brooklyn, NY
16+/$20 in advance, $25 day of show

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