Friday, November 6, 2020

Duff Guide to Ska Bullet Points: Green Torrejas "Green Torrejas" b/w "The Prisoners" and Stop the Presses "Dub in the Bank"

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)
The paper record label includes the imprint name (Canana Records), as well as an illustration of bandoliers.
  • The two skinhead reggae tracks featured on Green Torrejas' outstanding new single "Green Torrejas" b/w "The Prisoners" (Vinyl single, Canana Records, 2020) are directly inspired by the "spaghetti Western" films that comprise Italian director Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars in 1964, For a Few Dollars More in 1965, and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in 1966), along with their accompanying soundtracks by Ennio Morricone. Of course, these very same movies and others of their ilk captivated many of the early reggae originators, like Lee "Scratch" Perry and The Upsetters, The Crystalites, The Hippy Boys, and others, who produced a number of incredible "Western reggae" sides in response (which are collected on the excellent Trojan comp For a Few Dollars More: 28 Shots of Western Inspired Reggae). As the Green Torrejas hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina, it should be noted that their country has its own version of the cowboy in the gauchos, who evoke mythic/heroic qualities similar to their American counterparts (surely the spaghetti Westerns were popular there...). Green Torrejas' sound is in The Upsetters' mold--their instrumentals are keyboard-focused, musically quote bits from Morricone's Dollars' scores, and feature the requisite gunshots, ricochets, and other dramatic movie sound effects. "Green Torrejas" ("Green Fritters") is a moody theme song of sorts that conjures up images of cowboy anti-heroes battling/evading corrupt forces in unforgiving desert landscapes and beat up frontier towns, while "The Prisoners" is proudly defiant, as if our protagonists have escaped from the hands of the law or grips of the black hats. This is a great single worth tracking down (Canana Records is based in Mexico, so it'll be an import if you don't live there).
"Dub in the Bank"
  • Brooklyn-via-Miami's Stop the Presses have issued two stellar, Agent Jay-crafted dubs of tracks from their terrific 2019 Money in the Bank album: "Dub the Presses" b/w "Hugo Dub" (digital, self-released and lathe cut single, Revolution Vintage; both 2020). If you've never heard them, Stop the Presses makes bright, catchy, new-wave tinged ska and reggae that leans more toward Santigold than No Doubt (and their recent album includes a great ska cover of Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party"). "Dub the Presses" is a version of "Stop the Presses"--which is about pushing back on those who pump out disinformation and propaganda while denouncing journalism attempting to report truth as "fake news": "The lies you're spreading, the beds they wetting/We're ready to throw this whole thing out." "Hugo" is a searing portrait of someone who's gone through a bitter break-up, but was no angel himself in the process ("Spit out the nails that have been spoken/Now start choking on your own spit"); its dub sheds some of the biting commentary to focus on the cut's rather sweet melody. I'm kicking myself for missing out on the now sold-out lathe cut Dub in the Bank single, but maybe Sammy Kay will do another batch someday?

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