The Ska Zone (Triple X Records)
By: Alex Steininger
THE SKA ZONE is a two-tone ska compilation featuring 80's ska greats, The Selecter. Also featured on this compilation is Big 5 (which contains former members of Bad Manners and The Selecter), International Beat (featuring former members of English Beat), and Potato 5. Each band contributed three tracks to this compilation.
The CD starts out with The Selecter's "On My Radio 91." The song is strong, getting you to sing along from the first hum of "Someone who loves me switch the radio on," and keeping you singing along throughout the song. The music is also intense, getting you to dance throughout. Potato 5's "Do the Jerk" is a boring, repetitive track. It's intensity is non-existent, and the music will not move you at all. A very 80's pop-two-tone ska number with vocals that can't do the job. The Selecter's "California Screaming," recorded live, displays their ability to pull off their magic live. The song has intensity, and proves this band would definitely be a band you would want to see live. The drums work hard, keeping the music and your feet tapping. The guitar jumps from upbeat ska licks that will get you dancing to a slash-metal quick blow that keeps the song interesting. The vocals are very pleasant, doing a great job working with the music. International Beat's "Head Man's Plans" is another track recorded live. The music is good, with the horns adding a blast of spirit when they are present. The vocals on the other hand, are annoying and ruin the song. In parts their reggae touch to the song can be very nice, but when they sound off and end with an "oh" in a high pitched tone, it really destroys the song. Potato 5's "Reburial" is a nicely done instrumental. The drums and their cymbal work keeps the backbone of the music strong, while the horns add all the sunshine and warmth the song needs. The guitar keeps your feet moving, giving you the start you need to dance. All and all, this song is a nice piece of work that will get your body moving. International Beat's "Signs of the Times" is a ska/reggae piece that has a heavy 80's pop feel to it, but also has enough ska to get you dancing and smiling. The horns are nicely crafted, keeping the song on its toes. The guitar keeps the upbeat bright, and the vocals add the reggae touch. Big 5's "I Want U" closes out the CD, disappointingly. Not even a ska track, it's more of an 80's techno/dance/pop crazy song.
This compilation has its moments, but for the most part it's a rather boring, outdated ska compilation. If you're into the 80's two-tone movement, this CD might interest you, but if you're looking for songs that actually sound like they were recorded in the 90's (no matter what style they are), you may want to look somewhere else. I'm not saying that just because it was recorded in the 80's it's bad. A lot of good stuff came out of the 80's, but the songs on this compilation aren't up to par. A lot of the 60's Jamaican ska has the ability to live in the 90's, as it is timeless. But this stuff sounds very dated. I'll give this CD a C.
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