Thursday, January 21, 2021

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Take: Sir Jay & The Ska-Tanauts "Covid-19 Special" b/w "Lockdown"

The artwork features the single's paper label with the imprint (Tip-A-Top), song title, and band name.
Tip-a-Top Records
7" vinyl single/digital

(Review by Steve Shafer)

While they closely model their sound after The Skatalites of the '64-'65 era, Swiss band Sir Jay & The Ska-Tanauts are no tribute act. This terrifically gifted group of musicians write their own tunes and have no agenda other than getting people on their feet to dance. Following The Skatalites' lead in titling their instrumentals after newsworthy people (Lee Harvey Oswald, Malcolm X, Christine Keeler) and current events ("Independence Anniversary Ska" celebrates Jamaica securing its independence from the UK, while "Sudden Attack" conveyed Cold War anxiety of nuclear war), the brilliant instrumentals on Sir Jay & The Ska-Tanauts' new single acknowledge the grim reality that everyone has been enduring over the past year. "Covid-19 Special" is a majestic, if not somewhat muted, track with an irresistibly propulsive rhythm and memorable and slightly mournful horn lines. It's definitely danceable, but there's an undercurrent of dread and danger (who will the virus strike down next?). "Lockdown" is a much brighter, almost manic affair, as if the band is endeavoring to keep our collective spirits up as we hunker down in isolation until the horrific rates of new infections and deaths subside, and the public health authorities can get those shots in our arms. 

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