Still the very best of the Ska Wave albums, along with The S
K. Swanson | Austin, TX United States | 01/30/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
This album was THE party album when it came out, along with that perfect first Specials album. This cd is just the original UK album; the US release added the two singles Tears Of A Clown (which I like as much as the Motown masterpiece) and the killer dance tune Ranking Full Stop, one of their best. Don't know why those tracks aren't on this rerelease; just to milk more money out of a hits package, no doubt.
I loved this period of English music, with New Wave and Ska and New Romantics and Metal and Electro Bands and so much else showing up, and mostly of such high quality. But when it came to party music, this and the Specials albums got played non-stop at our early teen sock hops. And people danced for hours nonstop! Haven't seen much dancing at most parties since then, sadly; too bad, 'cause nothing makes a party rock like everyone dancing.
Every track on this album is sharp and tasty. Saxa and the band can really play, the singers can really sing, and the songs are very well-written. Even the political stuff like Margaret is fun. And the Beat (their original name) could truly deliver the goods live; these guys became legends when they played a gig before 1,500 people at our local Masonic Hall, and the sweat was literally dripping from the roof! That became one of the most legendary gigs of the time in town (along with the Police show before their first album came out, where 7 people showed).
I was amazed and delighted when Wakeling toured solo a few years back. I watched the band at a busy but not packed SXSW, and saw Dave sitting alone before the show on a bench in the bar. Super friendly guy, and truly happy to share a beer and smile at some great memories of a quarter century earlier from someone who thought the band was long gone. He sang and played well that gig, and while it was no pip on the '81 shows (plenty of boots of those shows around, find them for free on tape trading sites), it was still a lot of fun.
If you don't know this album, be prepared to smile and jump around. It is in fact one of the most enjoyable, musical, and good-natured ska/reggae/two-tone albums I've ever heard, from the early 60s Jamaican bands all the way to now.
Music doesn't get much more fun than this."
Classic Debut of Punk, Ska and Reggae
Dave Sigmon | Connecticut, USA | 04/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a dynamic fusion of punk and ska. Though sometimes I'm inclined to categorize this more as sped-up reggae with particular accolades to drummer Everett Morton and bassist David Steele. The two singers bring the punk edge to the band. But once Ranking Roger toasts his soliloquy in the midst of outlandishly-paced songs, he incorporates his reggae bit in seasoned lyrics of the heart, rousing politics and a brilliant narcissistic opener entitled "Mirror In The Bathroom". They somehow outdo Smokey Robinson's "Tears Of A Clown" and Andy Williams' "Can't Get Used To Losing You" in which Saxa does one of the most soulful sax solos I've ever heard on a rock-related record. And the most stunning twist of all, they prove that punk, ska and reggae can have melodic appeal no matter how limited they've historically been."