Friday, February 13, 2009

Ska News from Around the World: Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, The English Beat, The Toasters, Nick Welsh and Rhoda Dakar

The Japan Times reviews the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra's 14th (!) album, Paradise Blue. If you are in the US, you're going to have to import it--CD Japan has it in stock for about $32 plus shipping (which at its cheapest and slowest will run you close to $40!).

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The Boston Music Spotlight has a quite good Dave Wakeling interview done by a writer who seems to be actually knowledgeable about the band and music. There are some interesting personal tidbits in there (that you are just going to have to read the article to find out...).

Boston Music Spotlight: How did the ska and reggae aspects of your music find its way to England and into The Beat way back when music wasn't nearly as accessible [via the internet]?

Dave Wakeling: We were very lucky in England, because there wasn't much radio. There was Radio 1 and there were a couple smaller stations. Unsanctioned stations. Anyway, Radio 1 used to play everything in the Top 20, and England really adored Motown, I mean we really adored it. Diana Ross tops all of them; she had a lot of hits in England.

So we grew up listening to the radio, and you'd have the Stones, followed by The Kinks, Herman's Hermits, Gladys Knight…and we figured there was no difference growing up.

It wasn't until we first came to America and driving around in a van when we got confused and the music was all white. "You play any soul," we would ask. "You gotta tune into the black station for that," they'd say.

We quickly learned that music in America had been compartmentalized, to an extent. When we played our cover of [Smokey Robinson's] "Tears Of A Clown", people thought it was an original song. In fact, one girl said "You know, somebody's already gone and covered your song, but it's really slow and you can't dance to it."

I hate to admit it, but I was a senior in high school, visiting a college down in Memphis when I heard Smokey Robinson's "Tears of A Clown" on the radio and finally figured out that The Beat had covered his song (d'oh!). And here I was this kid who was growing up in the NYC area, listening to ska, reggae, early hip hop, and all sorts of new wave (on the radio!) , but I still had enormous gaps in my musical knowledge (being a brash young man, I disdained the "oldies" radio station, though it would have given me a much better understanding of the music I was digging then). And you couldn't just look up bands on-line then (obviously), so you gleaned what you could from album liner notes, and Trouser Press, and whatever info your buddy claimed was true about a band...

Here's a bit I like from the interview (particularly as I'm growing older and feeling more and more out of place at shows...):

BMS: How have the fans changed [over the past 30 years]?

DW: The fans are a beautiful combination of people aged sixteen to sixty from all various waves of ska. Sometimes the older ones will be jealous – "I liked them for 30 years, come on" - but after three or four songs, people start to fall into step, and one of the things really lovely to watch is the fact that there aren't many things people sixteen and sixty can do together that makes them all comfortable. It reaches a point where they don't notice, and all that disappears into the song and the celebration of it, and that's ultimately satisfying. We started by bringing all the races together, but now we're bringing all the ages together! When you look more deeply, people exaggerate the situation, and we're all the same underneath it all.

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It depresses me that this video is being tagged as 'vintage' by (BTW, I'm Buck's stand-in, running around Hoboken.)

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Lastly, here is a nice preview for a show in the UK with Nick Welsh and Rhoda Dakar, doing their ska thing unplugged. (And I have a review of Nick's amazing acoustic ska album, The Soho Sessions, coming out of the pipeline any moment now, I swear!)


David T said...

Things seem to become vintage much sooner now than they used to!

Anonymous said...

MOST of the stuff I listen to / read / watch is vintage. its a great way to fill the holes in my musical knowledge!
(I've experienced the same thing, we gotta get out of this place is a '65 Animals song BEFORE the skadows did it.)

Besides, as we've heard, "they don't make them like they used to in this cold and plastic time"