Friday, December 30, 2011

The Duff Guide to Ska "Best Ska/Reggae 7" Singles of 2011" List!

Here's my (hopefully) eagerly-awaited, messy and woefully incomplete Best of Ska/Reggae 7" Singles of 2011 list! I'm sure I've missed some excellent releases this past year due to my limited disposable income, highly-subjective personal tastes, lapses in judgement, or outright cluelessness. But this considerable list contains both new and reissued recordings, all of which are absolutely worth your hard-earned cash--and guaranteed to bring you joy and satisfaction over repeated listens.

Entries that include a hotlink will connect you to The Duff Guide to Ska review of that particular release; otherwise, I've tried to provide a few sentences to give you an idea of why I like that single so much.

Seems like a lot of quality ska 7" vinyl was released in 2011. Sure hope that this trend continues into 2012...

- The Aggrolites: "Dreaming on Erie" b/w "Eye of Obarbas" and "Trial and Error" b/w "Enemy Dub" (Young Cub Records)

- Big D & the Kids Table "Not Our Fault" and "Lash Out" b/w Brunt of It "Nah Nah Nah Nah" and "Art School Dropout" (Ska is Dead 7" of the Month Club)

- Black Market Sound System: "Heavy Lies the Crown" b/w "Reggae Night" and "Movin' On" (May Cause Dizziness Records)

- Blue Riddim Band & Big Youth: "Nancy Reagan" b/w "Nancy Reagan Remix 2011 - Voice of the People" (Rougher Records)

- Ken Boothe and Tasty Grooves: "A Change Must Come" b/w "Better Than Nothing" (Liquidator) - This haunting rocksteady cut is the most overtly (and welcome) political single of the year with Ken Boothe decrying what is essentially racial profiling of suspected immigrants (both legal and non-documented) who are then swept up and detained in C.I.E.s (Immigrant Detention Centres that are not considered jails, but function as such) whilst their immigration status is determined. In most countries throughout Europe, the C.I.E.s function in a legally gray area with no guaranteed legal rights for detainees, leaving people jailed for months and subject to abuse--even torture--before they are released or deported. This cut reminds us that people are people, no matter where you come from or the color of your skin--and demands that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

- Los Bullets: "Crystal Ball" b/w "Gunshot" (Steady Beat Recordings)

- Hollie Cook: "That Very Night" b/w "Milk and Honey" (Mr. Bongo)

- Hollie Cook: "Body Beat" b/w "Sugar Water (Look at My Face)" (Mr. Bongo)

- Hollie Cook: "Walking in the Sand" b/w "Shadow Kissing" (Mr. Bongo)

- The Crombies: "Blood and Fire" b/w "Mad at the World" (Jump Up Records)

- Deal's Gone Bad "Far from Home" b/w "These Arms of Mine" (self-released)

- Nora Dean "Mama" b/w The Soul Syndicate "Natty Hong Kong" (Trojan Records/Harry J)

- The Delirians: "Move Around" b/w "Overdub" (Steady Beat Recordings)

- The Emotions "You are the One" b/w Phil Pratt & the All Stars "Girls Like Dirt" (Trojan Records/Big Shot)

- The Ethiopians: "I'm Shocking" b/w "Sign the Cheque" (Trojan Records/Smash) - In a case of unfortunate timing, this single was issued not long after Leonard Dillon's death (it had been in the works long before his passing), but these two rare rocksteady gems (recorded after their debut Engine 54) are wonderful reminders of his extraordinary gifts.

- The Forthrights: "Camp Birdman" (Panic State Records)

- Jamaica 69: "Nostalgia del Ayer" b/w Una Lagrima por Ti" (Steady Beat Recordings)

- The Jokers "Brixton" b/w Lloyd Charmers "The Premises" (Trojan Records/Explosion)

- King Hammond: "Mr. DJ" and "Bongo Ska Fever" b/w "The Loop" and "Dub Movement 1" (N.1. Records) - An incredible EP of booty-shaking ska and skinhead reggae, which also doubles as a mini-sampler of KH's three recent stellar albums (The King and I, Jacuzzi, and Showbiz). The King is at the top of his game!

- Lighta Secret: "Elinor All Night Long" b/w "Gaz Dangerous" (Gaz's Rockin' Records)

- Carl Moore "My Forefathers Died in the Sand" b/w The Sunshot All Stars "Strange Mood" (Pressure Sounds/Sunshot) - A plaintive track about African repatriation over the classic John Holt "Strange Things" riddim. Profound and powerful.

- Mustard Plug "Aye Aye Aye" b/w The Beatdown "Piece of Mind" (Ska is Dead 7" of the Month Club)

- Ocean 11: "Miss Understanding" b/w "Spring in Rome" (Moondust Records) - From one of the top--yet somehow elusive (they never played out much beyond SoCal)--traditional ska bands of the 1990s comes the first vinyl appearance of "Miss Understanding," which was originally released on the Girls Go Ska comp from Simmerdown, as well as an unreleased duet with Malik Moore of Los Bullets. I was lucky enough to pick up this single when Queen P played Brooklyn with The Shifters earlier this fall... (Many more terrific releases are soon coming from Moondust--but it looks like they'll be on next year's list!)

- The Pioneers "Easy Come, Easy Go" b/w Derrick Morgan & Desmond Dekker "Mercy Mercy" (Trojan Records/Dr. Bird)

- Prince Fatty and Mutant Hi-Fi: "Transistor Cowboy" b/w "Son of a Thousand Fathers" (Mr. Bongo) - From the fantastic Return of the Gringo album filled with spaghetti-Western inspired reggae--part homage to all the "Dollar" sides from Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Upsetters ("Return of Django"), Lloyd Charmers and The Hippy Boys, Derrick Harriot and The Crystalites, Harry J, Clancy Eccles, Joe Gibbs et all, as well as a brilliant contribution to this somewhat obscure musical sub-genre.

- Red Soul Community "One More Time" b/w Green Room Rockers "I'd Rather Go Blind" (Jump Up Records/Golden Singles Records)

- The Selecter: "Big in the Body, Small in the Mind" b/w "Back to Black" (Vocaphone Music)

- Sonic Boom Six "Play On" b/w The Nix 86 "Peter Pan Syndrome" (Ska is Dead 7" of the Month Club)

- Various Artists: "Doin' the Popcorn Ska: Golden Oldies, Volume 1" (Discotheque Records)

- Vic Ruggiero & Maddie Ruthless "Policeman" b/w The Forthrights "Carla" (Ska is Dead 7" of the Month Club)

- Earl Zero: "None Shall Escape the Judgement" b/w "Judgement Version" (Channel Tubes)

And the brilliant single that never was (Mad Decent was supposed to release a 7" of this over the summer, but for whatever reason it never came to pass): The Beastie Boys featuring Santigold: "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win."

+ + + +

Soon come: The Duff Guide to Ska "Best Ska/Reggae Albums of 2011"!

+ + + +

No comments: