Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Porkers: This is The Porkers

Sound System

The Porkers first came to the attention of the global ska scene in 1989 when they appeared on the Ska for Ska's Sake compilation (on Link Records), though they were then known by the naughty moniker The Pork Hunts (say it quickly a few times and you'll be in on the joke)--something that became a bit of impediment with club owners, so they switched to The Porkers (which is kind of a double entendre itself). Since then, The Porkers have persevered at perfecting their super hi-NRG, turn-it-up-to-eleven brand of ska, fueled by meaty doses of punk, rock, and metal, and placing them in the category of such hyphenated ska bands as Fishbone (ska-rock-funk-metal-kitchen sink), Skankin' Pickle (ska-funk-rasta-punk), and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (ska-core). (Here is where I cop to not being a huge fan of ska-core, so buyer beware.) The band is big in its native Australia (they've played stadium tours with No Doubt, Rancid, etc.) and has made significant inroads in the USA, including two albums released on Moon (Grunt in 1995 and Hot Dog Daiquiri in 1998) and a coveted spot on the 1999 Vans Warped Tour. Yet, after the collapse of the US ska scene at the turn of the century, the band seemed to fall off the US ska radar scope--so it's good to find them still kicking and in such terrific shape all these years later.

The release of This is The Porkers--which marked the band's twentieth anniversary--serves as a decent introduction to the band (or reminds one of their proper place in the ska pantheon), as about half of the tracks are some of The Porkers' top-shelf (and re-mastered) songs from Hot Dog Daiquiri, Time Will Tell (2000), and Now Hear This (2004). Of the new material, the stand-out cuts include the Highlife-tinged "Sangria" ("You're sweet, and so fruity/And you prove so good for I"); "Dread Man Walking," a reggae-ish stomp which ponders the back story of one of the zombie-like homeless men roaming the streets of their hometown; "Deep Vein Trombosis," a hard-driving, horn-heavy, post-2 Tone instrumental that wouldn't be out of place on No Sports' King Ska album; and the straight-up and almost sedate jazzy ska of "Waiting for Us."

While I was familiar with some of the band's pre-Y2K songs ("Aporkalypso," "Skankin' Carpark Blues"), I'm pleased to now be acquainted with the excellent, Fishbone-esque "Too Big for Your Boots" and the bold, horn-filled "Swinging Like Tiger Woods" (if you didn't know this was The Porkers, you'd swear it was a Dub 56-era Toasters song)--with the boastful lyric "I'm not content to be number one, but the best that's ever been!/And now it's time for me to come up with the goods/So I'm swinging like Tiger Woods!"

The Porkers aren't out to change the world--look elsewhere for your dose of righteous social commentary--but they do know how to write catchy melodies and play the hell out of them in order to make you dance.

The Duff Guide to Ska Grade: B+ (or an A- if you dig ska-core)

The Porkers
"Perfect Teeth"
From Hot Dog Daiquiri


Glen said...

For whatever reason, The Porkers haven't played a show in quite some time. I can really only see them coming back for a big support or as a once off reunion. Pete Cooper, their lead singer is out and about occasionally, but in the audience rather than on stage.

Steve from Moon said...


Thanks for your comment...I e-mailed Pete Porker for an update on the band, so let's see what he has to say...