Monday, November 30, 2020

Duff Guide to Ska Lightning Round: Detroit Riddim Crew "Fight for Your Rights" b/w "Fallen Down," "Girls Go Ska “Quédate," The Ska Contenders "What Does It Take" b/w "Siempre Conmigo," The Skapones "Rude Boy Rude Girl" b/w "Skapones A Go Go (Live)"

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)
  • Producer/musician Eric Abbey's rotating musical collective Detroit Riddim Crew has released its excellent fourth single "Fight for Your Rights" b/w "Fallen Down" (7" vinyl single/digital, Abbey Productions, 2020); their previous release was a stellar split single with The Skapones (which I reviewed). "Fight for Your Rights" features Ja Fagen from JA on vocals, and is a spare reggae hymn of sorts, with the repeated lyric/mantra "Get up, step up and fight for your rights/Let's unite and be strong." Plus, there's a fierce toast by Mitchie, and a haunting melodica by Abbey floating over it all. The brighter reggae cut "Fallen Down" is equally determined in righting wrongs, and has the incredible Chrissy Morgan singing: "They said we all have to live together/Moving forward, forward forever/Deal with the suffering around me/There's always someone beside me/To fight, we must come together as one/But I'm fallen down/But I'm pushing back up...I won't give up!" With songs like these to help stiffen your resolve in the struggle for equality and justice, who can be against us? (If you're jonesing for some ska Xmas music, I also highly recommend Side A of the Detroit Riddim Crew and Friends LP!)
The cover illustration is of a sad-looking alien girl sitting on pink sand at the ocean.
  • Girls Go Ska, from Mexico City, have released a rather sweet and catchy traditional ska-leaning single titled “Quédate” ("Stay") that is available through streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music (there's also a music video). Even though the song is about being head over heels for someone ("You are the dream I want to dream/You are the kiss I want to feel"), there's some uncertainty about the outcome, despite the singer's convincing entreaties, giving the track a bit of a heartbreaking undertow. If you like what you hear, they've also issued two other digital singles this year: "La Distancia" and "Sin Sentido" ("Without Sense").
  • Also hailing from Mexico City come The Ska Contenders with their debut single "What Does It Take" b/w "Siempre Conmigo" (7" vinyl single, Canana Records, 2020). The A side is a breezy rocksteady cut--though the vocals might be a bit melodramatic for some in terms of how their heavy longing is expressed--while "Siempre Conmigo" ("Always with Me") is a pleasant, vintage ska-sounding love song.
The cover illustration features a cartoon version of Al Capone holding a drink at the beach in a t-shirt and board shorts, as well as a trilby and overcoat. A black woman in a tank top and shorts stands next to him.
  • The Skapones new single "Rude Boy Rude Girl" (7" vinyl single/CD single/digital, Cosa Nostra Records, 2020) is tailor-made to lift one's mood and lend some much-needed hope and joy during these crap plague times (it's an updated "pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and do the ska" morale-booster!). "Rude Boy Rude Girl" is a fantastic, super-upbeat, sing-along-to-the-chorus 2 Tone/calypso cut celebrating ska's sound, vision, and attitude ("White boy, black girl/2 Tone through and through/Dr. Martens, pork pie hats/Tonic suits and monkey boots/They do the ska/They do the rocksteady/Rude boy, rude girl get ready...Whatcha gonna do/When the ska takes hold of you?"). My wonderful former bandmate Pamela Anderson-Buckley of Rude Boy George provides steel drum-sounding keys, and Carlos Russell of Argentina's Malambo Ska contributes percussion. The flip is a version of The Skapones' terrific fourth single/theme song, "Skapones A Go Go (Live)." 

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