Saturday, March 28, 2015

Record Store Day 2015: Soul Jazz Presents "Down Beat Special" Studio One 7" Box Set

For their first-ever Record Store Day release, Soul Jazz Records is issuing the Down Beat Special Studio One five 7" box set, which will feature the following singles:

Willie Williams "Armagideon Time" b/w Marcia Griffiths "Feel Like Jumping"

The Skatalites "Addis Ababa" b/w The Eternals "Queen of the Minstrels"

Dawn Penn "No No No" b/w Dub specialist "Hooligan (Dub)"

The Mad Lads "Ten to One" b/w Jackie Mittoo "Totally Together"

Michigan and Smiley "Nice Up the Dance" b/w "The Wailers "Simmer Down"

I have to admit that I'm pretty bummed that this is a UK-only, limited-edition (500 copies) Record Store Day 2015 release, since it's going to be very hard to obtain here in the States and will likely cost an arm and a leg as a rare import (RSD releases in the US tend to be marked up significantly as it is).

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Check out the other ska/reggae related RSD 2015 releases we're interested in here.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Duff Review: Reggay Lords "Run or Get Down"

Jump Up Records
2015
Vinyl LP

(Review by Steve Shafer)

First, a brief biographical sketch: The Reggay Lords are an early reggae supergroup of sorts, with members from drawn from such acts as Coldspot 8, The Rudie Crew, The Pinstripes, The Hard Times (RIP), and The Forthrights (RIP), who perform dressed as 18th century English lords (replete with powdered wigs, puffy shirts, embroidered jackets or velvet robes, and the occasional mead-filled chalice) and speak in condescending (and tongue-in-cheek) tones to the ska rabble that gather to receive their musical beneficence. (Read The Duff Guide to Ska review of one of The Reggay Lords' live shows here.)

While their costumes, stage antics, and lordly attitudes are definitely entertaining and engaging (absolutely see them live if you have the chance), The Reggay Lords' music really delivers. Run or Get Down, the Lords' second album (their superb self-titled debut was released in 2013), contains track after track of highly catchy and danceable dirty reggae and is a definite "must purchase"! (Also, it's a vinyl-only release, so this is yet another in a long line of reasons to join us music luddites and dig out or buy a turntable...)

As the album cover might suggest, the Lords are highly critical of the police's abuse of power and heavy-handed treatment of the "commoners" (to use their parlance) on two of the ten cuts here (which are stingingly relevant in light of the death of Eric Garner and its impact on New York City; the years of unconstitutional "stop and frisk" policing in NYC that targeted vast numbers of innocent men of color; and how the police are used by local--and racist--governments to prey on communities of color for municipal revenue--surely, a scheme that is not limited to Ferguson, MO). The title track's lyrics lay it all out--essentially, positing that the residents of neighborhoods can regulate themselves, while the police are agents of violence and chaos:

"When I was just a boy on the corner
I never heard them shout in anger
And no man would curse or slander
Everyone had a nice street manner

And if a bully boy him come down
He get beat down by de block
And the only big man that a flash him gun
Was the one, him drunk, a cop

Everybody run or get down
He say..."

The other (rather chipper and defiant) song relating to the police is "One Day," a clear warning (and an expression of yearning for deliverance) that envisions a time of revolution when the agents of Babylon will no longer be in a position to torment and mistreat the people:

"Oh, and what a wonderful world it would be...

One day
I'll rid the world of my oppressors
One day
I'll live without my oppressors

Blood will run
Screams will carry
Babylon will run
Dreams turn reality

So Mr. Blue in black
Stay back
So Mr. Blue in black
Stay back
Soon your black heart will turn blue for you

So, what about the countless victims?
The thousands and millions
What about the countless children
Laid low by you?

So Mr. Blue in black
Stay back
So Mr. Blue in black
Stay back
Soon your black heart will turn blue for you

So, c'mon and fight, yeah!
And woman fight, too
So, c'mon and fight
For truth"

The rest of the songs on Run or Get Down aren't quite as heavy (though the "High John" is an awesome supplication to a higher, regal authority/"conquerer" to "protect me now and always do not let my enemies rest--not in a chair, not in a bed!"). "Spirit" wonders how you can come across the ghost of someone who's still alive (the walking dead are not limited to the ranks of the undead: "When a man's not in the ground, yeah/How could you see his spirit, no!"). Propelled by a buoyant popcorn reggae organ line, "Oh Lord" serves as a jubilant theme song of sorts ("You know we're working!/Reggay Lords, that's our job!"). "It's a Game," with its terrific Middle Eastern-sounding, minor-key guitar riff (shades of Dick Dale), has a tense, plodding tempo and feel that reflects the heavy burden the singer's shouldering after realizing he's surrounded by manipulative, pernicious fake friends ("It's a game to them, how they put you down/It a game to them, that's why they're always around/Put me in one spot, they told me not to move about!"). The sweetly nostalgic ice rink organ of "Big Girl" masks the loss of youth, time, and innocence (and the sadness over how the years have transformed the childhood friend--first crush?--into a stranger): "You used to be the little girl I used to play with/You used to be the little girl I used to stay with...Where did you go?"

The Upsetters-like "Nice Shoes" is a tightly-wound, organ-centric instrumental with menacing exhortations about the risks of dressing sharply in dicey neighborhoods: "Nice shoes, my brother!/Lace by lace/Block by block/Gonna take that man's shoes/Gonna leave him in his socks!" There's a Greek myth quality to the warning contained in "There Was a Woman," which recounts the story of a siren-like woman who could lure men to their death, since they could not resist her sexual attractiveness--or see the trap that it hid ("There was a woman/She threw a contest/She don't care for the rules/She don't play by the book/A woman/She threw a contest/And when a man gets speared/All she wore was her hair/The gal could do nothing but win..."). The album ends on a lighter note, with the celebratory, good times "Barrister's Ball": "Down at the Barrister's Ball/Them don't serve no tea at all/Now all the ladies line up in the attic/Across the room and give we a wink/They never wear no funny trousers/You don't what will arouse her." Nice up the dance, indeed.

The ska scene needs more royalty like this! Make sure to hail the Reggay Lords and pick up their Run or Get Down now!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Another Record Store Day 2015 Ska Release: The Beat's "The 7" Singles Collection"

In addition to the UK-only Madness "Lovestruck" vinyl single and the US/UK Trojan Records' Rude Boy Rumble compilation LP, ska fans in the UK who don't already have them (or want to replace any scratched up copies currently in their collection) will be interested to learn that Demon Music Group is issuing The Beat's The 7" Singles Collection" for Record Store Day 2015.

This box set contains thirteen Beat vinyl 45s, from their 2 Tone debut, "Tears of a Clown," to their last Special Beat Service single, "Ackee 1-2-3"--and everything in between: "Mirror In The Bathroom," "Hands Off... She’s Mine," "Best Friend," "Too Nice To Talk To," "Doors of Your Heart," "All Out To Get You," "Hit It," "Save It For Later," "Jeanette," "I Confess," and "Can’t Get To Losing You." A 16-page booklet is included, presumably about the band and each single. Only 1,000 copies of this set are being pressed.

It seems a bit odd that this set isn't being given a US release, as The Beat were enormously popular in America during the new wave era (and many of those former kids who bought The English Beat's records are now all middle-aged people who are probably still buying music in physical formats--and didn't have the chance to purchase many of the band's UK-only singles back in the day!). For now, American fans should hit up any family or friends in the UK and ask them to pick up a copy--or get ready to bid a lot cash on eBay...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Duff Review: Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra "Ska Me Forever"

Nacional Records
2015
Vinyl LP and digital download

(Review by Steve Shafer)

In the weird, lost years after the flame out of the post-2 Tone NYC-Boston-LA ska scenes at the very end of the 80s and prior to the rise of the mighty Third Wave sometime in the mid-90s, I started reading in Tower Records' "Pulse" magazine about this ska band in Japan, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (TSPO or Skapara to their fans in Japan), that was on Epic/Sony Records (!) and had become as popular as a Top 40 band here in America. So, as a rabid ska fan at a time when there just weren't that many modern ska releases that were easy to obtain (back in the pre-internet era, this sometimes meant going to a bank to exchange currency and then mailing the intriguingly colorful foreign paper money overseas to pay for albums from Unicorn Records and other Euro ska labels), I had to keep my eyes peeled for these Holy Grail-like releases from TSPO at every record store I stumbled upon in my travels both near and far.

One fine day in 1991 at Tower Records on Broadway and West Fourth Street in Manhattan (RIP), my mind nearly melted when I came across a new plastic divider in the bins for Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. Even better, I found not just one, but several TSPO albums for sale! Most of the text on the CDs was in Japanese and, of course, completely indecipherable to me (I still don't know the names of some of the songs on them), and since they were imports, they were a bit pricier than most. But none of this prevented me from purchasing as many as I could reasonably afford (on my pitiful salary as a caseworker to mentally ill homeless people)--and instantly becoming a fan of their wonderfully insane mix of vintage 60s ska, big band music, film soundtracks, surf rock, and anything else musical that happened to inspire them ("Sesame Street" theme song, anyone?).

In 1999, I had the good fortune, during a terrible time when Moon Records was teetering on the edge of oblivion, to meet several representatives from TSPO's label (AVEX/Justa Record) who were in the States looking for a possible partner in the North American market. Moon would have been well-positioned to take on this role, had this meeting taken place several years earlier, when ska was all the rage and the label was thriving (and maybe having TSPO on Moon's roster could have helped prevent its demise?). Even though the brief meeting with the Justa Record people was fruitless (it was obvious that Moon was in its death throes and the Third Wave had long ago crested), they gave me a slew of TSPO vinyl (including this, this, and that) and CDs, as well as a few issues of the brilliant Justa Record magazine, which I still have to this day.

Although, in better days, I had a hand in licensing many of Moon's releases to Tachyon in Japan (which were issued on our sister label, Moon Ska Tokyo), I never was able to hitch a ride along with any of our bands that toured there. And when the bottom dropped out of the ska scene in the USA, any hopes of TSPO doing a victory lap around the US disappeared (or so I thought). Since I had drifted away from the ska scene for a few years to nurse my accumulated wounds after the failure of my ska/reggae digital-download label (7 Wonders of the World Music, 1999-2001), I was completely ignorant of the fact that TSPO performed less than 20 blocks from my apartment at NYC's Central Park Summerstage in 2005 (d'oh)! So, I jumped all over the chance to see TSPO in 2013 at Stage 48, on Manhattan's West Side--watch the videos I shot and read my review of that incredible show here.

Ska Me Forever is Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra's 19th album and has been belatedly issued in the US in celebration of the band's 25th anniversary in 2014 (if you can believe it, Ska Me Forever is TSPO's first release in the USA--through Nacional Records in Hollywood, CA, home mostly to Latin rock acts, like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Manu Chao, though the current incarnation of the Tom Tom Club also is on their roster). Purchasing the nine-track LP is a nice deal, as it includes a digital download card for those same cuts. An 18-track digital version of this record also is available--and it contains some real gems that I wish were included on the vinyl album, which should have been a double-LP. (A 13-track Japanese edition of Ska Me Forever was released on CD in August 2014.)

Side A of the Ska Me Forever LP--which features all new material and reflects their omnivorous taste in music--roars out of the starting gate with the amazing, menacing surf-ska instrumental "Damned" (featuring FPM) and then immediately shifts to the majestic "Horizon," another in a long line of lush ska-jazz cuts that TSPO does so damn well. "Wake Up" (with Asian Kung-Fu Generation) comes off as ska-punk lite, with echoes of the Bosstones' poppier fare; to be blunt, I'm not a fan of ska-punk, so take that into consideration when I tell you that this cut misses the mark (I just don't think it's in their wheelhouse). The gorgeous "Chance" sounds like a sunny 60s AM pop tune (think Carpenters or Bacharach) crossed with JA riddims that segues into a pleasantly light, I'm-totally-buzzed-and-carefree-on-summer's-afternoon dub. When I first listened to the church organ-heavy "The Tennessee Waltz" (which seems filled with nostalgic longing for an idealized home/refuge, much like "Take Me Home, Country Roads"), it seemed vaguely familiar, so I did a little bit of research and learned that it's an oft-covered 1946 pop/country tune by Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King that was a massive 1950 hit for Patti Page (and was very popular in Japan).



The flip side of the Ska Me Forever begins with a haunting, dubby, and significantly re-worked instrumental version of Cafe Tacvba's melancholy "Eres" ("You Are," from their 2003 album Cuatro Caminos). Apart from being a wonderfully heartbreaking and melodramatic track (the original is about how devastated the singer is after his love is gone), it's a shrewd move for TSPO to cover a song from one of the most popular alternative rock bands in Mexico, since TSPO have a huge fan base there after playing major music festivals (like Vive Latino). This is followed by what I assume are a trio of new recordings of some of their past (and greatest) all-out ska crowd pleasers (which are here for the TSPO newcomers): "Down Beat Stomp" (from 2003's Stompin' On Down Beat Alley), "Ska Me Crazy" (from 2001's Gunslingers), and "Storm Rider" (from 2010's World Ska Symphony).

The gleefully raucous "Down Beat Stomp," which musically quotes "Dawning of a New Era" (and generally feels like a song The Specials could have written in 1979), sports a fantastic sing-along chorus and should be, not surprisingly, very appealing to fans of 2 Tone. While we're in Specials mode, "Ska Me Crazy" is similar in spirit to a blistering, show-ending rendition of The Specials' "Enjoy Yourself" ("Don't piss me now/Don't cross my nature/I can never get enough/I want something now/Do the rock now baby, yeah/It's time to go/I want to live the night life/Sleep all the morning/Going, getting off the whole night/Nothing would be better/You gotta ska me baby, yeah/Get ready to go!"). The LP proper closes with the incredible, cinematic, spaghetti-Western-ish instrumental "Storm Rider," which has the most bad-ass and sinister bass and bari-sax riffs this side of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme."

The digital version of Ska Me Forever (which includes all of the songs on the LP) opens with a new, manic recording of the instantly familiar Russian folk song "Peddlers" ("Korobeiniki")--the first track on TSPO's 1989 self-titled debut EP. The Ramones-ish "One Way Punk" isn't half bad (though that may be because it reminds me of "Blitzkrieg Bop") and the catchy "Senkou" (with 10-FEET), which manages to be both uptempo and introspective-sounding, is a testament (despite the rap break) to the Bosstones' far-reaching and lasting impact (also see "Nagareyuku Sekai No Nakade" with MONGOL800). The bittersweet "Sunny Blues (7 inch)" finds TSPO back on traditional ska footing, as does their soused and happy cover of the classic Mexican folk song, "Cielito Lindo" (with its "Ay, yai, yai, yai" chorus that you may have heard sung by Desi Arnaz on "I Love Lucy" or, um, in an old Fritos commercial that trades in racial stereotypes).



"For the Goal" is a pretty great calypso-y footie chant ("Why don't we all share the finest moments/Why don't we laugh at the greatest feeling/Let's all hope together as we're shooting for the goal!") that would sound great on the terraces in Japan (if it isn't already being used there). TSPO's fantastic rendition of Beethoven’s "Ode An Die Freude" ("Ode to Joy") from "Symphony No. 9" (familiar to contemporary pop audiences via the first "Die Hard" movie or the brutal "A Clockwork Orange"--and to churchgoers as the hymn "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee") begins with the melody played on a melodica (with ska percussion beneath) before dramatically building to an epic, Monty Python-esque (or PDQ Bach-esque, if you like), cast-of-thousands finale. "All Good Ska Is One" is a pretty wonderful (and show-ending) soulful vintage ska cut (which I first thought sounded like Angelo Moore fronting The Senior Allstars while covering a choice Prince Buster or Laurel Aitken track--and it turns out that Angelo is singing lead on this track, which comes from the 2011 Sunny Side of the Street EP!) with a message that is awfully hard to argue with: "We can do it, now/Meet the world with an embracing heart/Nothing can ever stand in your way/We can all unite, like all good ska music...Come together, all good ska is one!"


As always, on both versions of Ska Me Forever, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra create some of the best and most enjoyable ska in the world, with something to please ska fans of every persuasion (vintage ska, modern ska, ska-punk, etc.). Live long and prosper, TSPO!


Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Duff Guide to Ska Winter/Spring 2015 Ska Calendar #4

Saturday, March 7, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Vic Ruggiero, The Snails, Reggay Lords (Record Release!), DJ Grace of Spades

Grand Victory
245 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Saturday, March 14, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Pilfers Record Release Party w/Leaving Lifted, Fear Nuttin Band, The Rudie Crew, Sweet Lucy, Rude Boy George, The Native Alien Tribe, plus special guests and DJs!

The Wick
260 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY
$15 in advance/$25 at door
18+

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

St. Patrick's Day Bash w/Straight to Hell, Bonus Pump, Badfish

BB King's Blues Club
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$20/All ages

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Saturday, March 21, 2015 @ 9:30 pm

Rude Boy George

Seaside Tavern
981 Cove Road
Stamford, CT

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Friday, April 17, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Skarroneros, The Beatdown, The Pandemics, Beat Brigade, King Django

Grand Victory
245 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

Roddy Radiation (of The Specials) w/The Scotch Bonnets, Rude Boy George

Fontana's Bar
105 Eldridge Street
New York, NY
$10/21+

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The English Beat, The Skints

The Gramercy Theater
127 East 23rd Street
New York, NY
$25/16+

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Saturday, May 2, 2015 (3 sets starting at 7:00 pm)

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room
1141 Broadway
New York, NY
No cover!

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Saturday, May 2, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

Fishbone, Easy Star Allstars, The Skints

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$22/21+

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Saturday, May 9, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

Dig Deeper Presents Derrick Morgan, Crazy Baldhead, DJ Scratch Famous (of Deadly Dragon Sound System), DJ Honky and Mr. Robinson

Littlefield
622 Degraw Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
$20 in advance/$25 day of show
21+

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Saturday, May 9, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Skatalites

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

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Friday, May 15, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

Bad Manners, Dale and the Zdubs

Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$20 in advance/$25 day of show

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Saturday, May 30, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Rude Boy George

State Theatre of Boyertown
61 North Reading Avenue
Boyertown, PA

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Friday, June 26, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Pietasters

Rock's Off Booze Cruise
The Jewel
Board the boat at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive, Manhattan
Tix: $25 in advance/$30 day of show
21+

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NYC Winter/Spring 2015 Ska Calendar #3

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Scofflaws (opening for Drumming for Love Benefit featuring Eric Bolivar, George Porter, Jr., Ivan Neville, Brian Stoltz, and Adam Dietch)

Marlin Room at Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
New York, NY
Tickets: $35

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Friday, February 27, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

Reggae in the Slope w/NY Ska Jazz Ensemble, Deejay Spinach

Port Royal
837 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10

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Saturday, February 28, 2015 (2 Sets: 8:00 pm and 9:30 pm)

Brown Rice Family Band

Friends and Lovers
641 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
No cover!

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Saturday, March 7, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Vic Ruggiero, The Snails, Reggay Lords (Record Release!), DJ Grace of Spades

Grand Victory
245 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Saturday, March 14, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Pilfers Record Release Party w/Leaving Lifted, Fear Nuttin Band, The Rudie Crew, Sweet Lucy, Rude Boy George, The Native Alien Tribe, plus special guests and DJs!

The Wick
260 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY
$15 in advance/$25 at door
18+

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

St. Patrick's Day Bash w/Straight to Hell, Bonus Pump, Badfish

BB King Blues Club
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$20/All ages

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Saturday, March 21, 2015 @ 9:30 pm

Rude Boy George

Seaside Tavern
981 Cove Road
Stamford, CT

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Friday, April 17, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Skarroneros, The Beatdown, The Pandemics, Beat Brigade, King Django

Grand Victory
245 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

Roddy Radiation (of The Specials) w/The Scotch Bonnets, Rude Boy George

Fontana's Bar
105 Eldridge Street
New York, NY
$10/21+

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The English Beat, The Skints

The Gramercy Theater
127 East 23rd Street
New York, NY
$25/16+

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room
1141 Broadway
New York, NY

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Saturday, May 2, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

Fishbone, Easy Star Allstars, The Skints

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$22/21+

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Saturday, May 9, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Skatalites

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

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Saturday, May 30, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Rude Boy George

State Theatre of Boyertown
61 North Reading Avenue
Boyertown, PA

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Trojan Records to Release Record Store Day 2015 Compilation: "Rude Boy Rumble"

At the moment details are few, but it appears that Trojan Records will be releasing a 60s ska/reggae compilation with cuts from Desmond Dekker and The Aces, The Upsetters, and the like for Record Store Day 2015. Titled Rude Boy Rumble, this 12-track LP will feature cuts chosen by Tom "Papa" Ray AKA The Soul Selector (he's also the owner of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, MO).

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Duff Interview: Tsuyoshi Kawakami of Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra


Japanese ska legends Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra just released their 19th album Ska Me Forever earlier this month on Nacional Records in the US (as a nine-track LP and 18-track digital download). While The Duff Guide to Ska will have a review of Ska Me Forever up in the near future, we're thrilled to post a recent interview we were able to conduct (via email) with TSPO bass player Tsuyoshi Kawakami, who has been with the band since its founding in 1988. 

The Duff Guide to Ska: Ska Me Forever is being released as the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra celebrates its 25th year as a band--did you all think that it would still be going strong this many years later? Are you all planning to just keep on going like The Skatalites and play even when you are old (and distinguished) men?

Tsuyoshi Kawakami: I had no idea we would last 25 years. It is an extraordinary case in the Japanese music scene that a band as big as we are can continue, specialized in a genre of ska. In that sense, we respect The Skatalites a lot. It would be fun to keep on doing this like they do.

DGTS: Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra's musical influences seem to be omnivorous--traditional ska, jazz, big band, 60s movie soundtracks, surf rock, and much more. What influenced and inspired the band as it was writing and recording the songs that are on Ska Me Forever?

TK: This album turned out to be the concentration of all elements that TSPO have, that we have been influenced by--not just ska and authentic elements but also others such as rock and dub-oriented sounds. We turn a variety of music into ska and advocate our own genre “Tokyo Ska.” And this album shows the true value of Tokyo ska.

DGTS: I've read that Gaz's Mayall's cassettes that were sold in a local record shop had an impact on Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and the late 80s ska scene in Japan. Were his tapes all ska or a mix of styles? Were you ever in touch with him directly--and in the early days of the band was there ever the possibility that you'd release some music on Gaz's Rockin' Records?

TK: Gaz’s cassette tape included a lot of ska. At that time, ska was not so much known to the general public, so the tape was really shocking to us. We listened to it many times and learned about ska. We have certainly met him in person. He has been a big supporter for us. We saw him at Glastonbury when we performed there in 2003 and, for the first time in a long while, in 2013 at a festival in Japan. He was dancing while watching us perform!


DGTS: I've read in other interviews with the band that even though Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra has toured all of the world, you've never performed in Jamaica. Is that still true? Of the places you have toured, what are your favorite countries/venues to play? Where have you received the best, worst, and most memorable reactions from an audience?

TK: We have never been to Jamaica yet, but we definitely want to in the near future. We were amazed how many people support us in Mexico. It was electrifying to see the Mexican fans know our music so much that they can sing to all songs and instrumental tunes. We realized that even in places we had never been before, TSPO are loved so much and there are enthusiastic fans, which made us wish to perform in more different places in the world. We are very grateful.

DGTS: You've toured the USA several times. What are your impressions of the American fans and US bands that have opened up for TSPO? (And since I live in NYC--and saw your incredible show at Stage 48 two years ago--I'm interested to know when TSPO is next planning on playing in NYC...)

TK: We performed in NYC for the first time in a while in 2013. Last year, we performed at the Irving Plaza and had a blast! It made us want to have more people come to our show and know us. At this time, we do not have dates for our next NYC shows, but we wish to perform there again in the near future.

DGTS: In the late 90s, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra started its own label through AVEX--Justa Record--which released several TSPO albums and singles, as well as a few ska compilations, and even published a magazine. What happened to it?

TK: Justa Record is still around. TSPO’s albums have been released from this label. With Justa Record we can do approaches different from TSPO as well, and we’re thinking of releasing even more interesting things from this label.

DGTS: What are some of your all-time favorite ska records released by other artists--the ones you would save if your home were on fire?

TK: If my home’s on fire? I cannot choose a record to be honest. I would like you to save a copy of our debut vinyl album Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. :)

DGTS: It's sometimes difficult for ska fans outside of Japan to find out about what's going on in the Japanese ska scene. Can you recommend any newer Japanese ska bands that we should try to track down?

TK: It’s actually ska punk, but the band Kemuri is wonderful. Their singer Fumio Ito sang in our song named “Pride Of Lions.” Kemuri is going to tour America this year so check it out!

DGTS: What led Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra to releasing Ska Me Forever on Nacional Records, which is more known for Latin rock? (Ska Me Forever is being released on vinyl by Nacional in the US--is vinyl as popular in Japan as it is becoming here?)

TK: It all started when we met Tomas, the big boss of Nacional. He helped us out when we wanted to record a track with Manu Chao back in 2011. Just like in the US, vinyl is becoming more popular among youth, who have never listened to vinyl before.

DGTS: In addition to releasing Ska Me Forever, what other plans does Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra have for celebrating your 25th anniversary?

TK: We will culminate our 25th anniversary at a historical venue called Budokan on March 28. Our collaborator bands on Ska Me Forever, namely 10-FEET, Mongol800, and Asian Kung-Fu Generation will be there as well.

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Thanks to Tsuyoshi Kawakami for taking the time to do this interview with us!

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Madness To Release Single for Record Store Day 2015: "Lovestruck" b/w "Le Grand Pantalon"

For this year's Record Store Day (Saturday, April 18, 2015), there will be another notable ska offering--coming on the heel's of last year's unexpected Specials RSD release and the inclusion of The Untouchables' "(I Spy for The) FBI" and Desmond Dekker "Israelites" vinyl singles in the Ten Big Stiffs box set issued on the 201 Black Friday Record Store Day.

Madness will be releasing two songs on vinyl: "Lovestruck" (from 1999's Wonderful) b/w "Le Grand Pantalon" (a fantastic, reflective version of "Baggy Trousers" that was used in a 2011 Kronenbourg 1664 beer ad and was included on the 2013 A Guided Tour of Madness box set). Neither track has been available on vinyl before.

This release also boasts a 3D Punch and Judy-type "Lovestruck" Toy Theatre that includes Madness-related items and characters, including pith-helmeted British soldiers from "Night Boat to Cairo," bottles of Madness Brewing Company beer (yes, there is Madness beer available in Europe; one of the varieties--in a nice bit of brand synergy--is an amber ale called "Lovestruck"), and a roller coaster (a reference to "House of Fun," of course).

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Duff Guide to Ska Winter/Spring 2015 Ska Calendar #2

Saturday, February 14, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Valentine's Day Bash w/Inspecter 7, The Mugs, The Ladrones, HARM, plus DJ Agent J

The Grand Victory
245 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

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Saturday, February 21, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

Rude Boy George and Wasted Days

Two Boots of Bridgeport
281 Fairfield Avenue
Bridgeport, CT
No cover!

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Saturday, February 21, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

Brooklyn Attractors

Dirck the Norseman (Brew Pub)
7 North 15th Street
Brooklyn, NY
No cover!

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Friday, February 27, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

Reggae in the Slope w/NY Ska Jazz Ensemble, Deejay Spinach

Port Royal
837 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10

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Saturday, February 28, 2015 (2 Sets: 8:00 pm and 9:30 pm)

Brown Rice Family Band

Friends and Lovers
641 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
No cover!

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Saturday, March 7, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Vic Ruggiero, The Snails, Reggay Lords (Record Release!), DJ Grace of Spades

Grand Victory
245 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Saturday, March 14, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

The Pilfers Record Release Party w/Leaving Lifted, Fear Nuttin Band, The Rudie Crew, Sweet Lucy, Rude Boy George, The Native Alien Tribe, plus special guests and DJs!

The Wick
260 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY
$15 in advance/$25 at door
18+

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

St. Patrick's Day Bash w/Straight to Hell, Bonus Pump, Badfish

BB King Blues Club
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$20/All ages

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Saturday, March 21, 2015 @ 9:30 pm

Rude Boy George

Seaside Tavern
981 Cove Road
Stamford, CT

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Friday, April 17, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Skarroneros, The Beatdown, The Pandemics, Beat Brigade, King Django

Grand Victory
245 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY
$10/21+

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rude Boy George

Fontana's Bar
105 Eldridge Street
New York, NY

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room
1141 Broadway
New York, NY