Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Duff Guide to Ska Bullet Points: The Bakesys, No Sports

The cover is a close up of a worn British public phone with the numbers 999 peeling off.(Reviews by Steve Shafer)
  • The Bakesys are back with a new song that was recorded during the sessions for their great More Bakeseys album (for a refresher, here's my review of it from back in 2017). In case there's any question about who "Rich Boy Rude Boy" (digital, Do the Dog Music, 2020) is really about, there's a snippet from a Congressional hearing featuring Donald Trump's former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen--Question: "Did the president or his company ever inflate his assets or revenue?" Michael Cohen: "Yes." Like its related cuts on More Bakesys, "Rich Boy Rude Boy" mines the latter day Specials sound (found on More Specials and the Ghost Town EP), and is explicitly left-wing protest music--with a socialist message at the end--calling out the despicable, if not outright evil, things many of the rich do to attain and maintain their wealth. Despite its somewhat dour tone, it's an immensely winning, well-done reggae track. And did I mention it's free?
    The cover illustration is of a coat of arms featuring pork pie hats, checkerboards, and Doc Marten boots.
  • Back in the day, if you were lucky to be following the extraordinary late '80s/early '90s UK/European ska scene--most of which was captured for posterity via a string of amazing releases on Unicorn Records (their owner had an impeccable taste in bands, but--fatal flaw here--failed to pay them their royalties!)--you undoubtably loved Germany's No Sports. Massively influenced by The Specials and Selecter, No Sports revved up the beat and supercharged their 2 Tone sound on their stellar 1989 debut album King Ska (recently reissued by Black Butcher Classics/Mad Butcher Records and available in the US via Jump Up)--one of the best records of that era--adding a bit of lyrical (and vocal) zaniness to very relatable, everyday songs about work, rest, and play (I'll write this album up at some point in the near future). No Sports' 1990 follow-up was their stunning Stay Rude, Stay Rebel EP. The fantastic anti-racist/anti-fascist title cut was particularly meaningful at a time in Germany soon after reunification (the Berlin Wall fell in '89), when newly-found patriotism for a unified Germany gave far-right hate groups the cover to actively recruit new legions of goons, and led to attacks on Germans of color and non-white immigrants. (No Sports' peers The Frits' 1991 album Little Idiots is practically a concept album about this era that both mourns for a Germany filled with so much hate and pushes fiercely back against it, with songs like "Searching for Another Place in Town," "The Most I Hate is You," "Little Idiots," and "Bonehead.") No Sports' "Stay Rude, Stay Rebel" is an immensely catchy track that, like other powerful 2 Tone songs written in response to dark times, effortlessly moves both body and mind: "Stay rude against the fascist regimes/Stay rebel against politicians' dreams/Stay rude and fight back against injustice/Stay rebel against racial prejudice." And the chorus--in a very RAR move--is aimed squarely at on-the-fence skinheads: "Stay rebel--stay S.H.A.R.P. [Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice]" (a spoken word bit adds: "Skinheads remember your roots/Think with your brain and not with your fucking boots"). The other great cuts rounding out the EP are the jaunty "Tour de France" (an original, not a Kraftwerk cover) sung in French; the demented "Love Song"; and the magnificent Madness-y pop-ska epic "Girl (Tango)" ("She was not very pretty/She had no class or style/She was just a girl/But she had that love of I"). This reissue of Stay Rude, Stay Rebel is a 7" picture sleeve single (as opposed to the original's 12") and brought to us by Black Butcher Classics/Mad Butcher Records (and also available in the US via Jump Up); props to whomever redesigned the background on the paper label from the original blue unicorn silhouette to the cartoon butcher. (Related reading: I wrote about many of Unicorn's releases for a 1998 issue of The People's Ska Annual.)
+ + + +

No comments: