VARIOUS ARTISTS: Love and Affection:
Ska In The Key Of Love (Moon Ska Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Embracing the romantic connection between ska music and love (ah...that dirty four letter word!) Moon Ska Records has decided to put out an all-love (damn, there it is again) compilation featuring many up-and-coming ska bands, as well as a few very established ska names such as Skinnerbox, The Toasters, and Bim Skala Bim. With seventy four minutes of music, forget about popping in your Boys To Men CD's when you want to seduce that special someone, and turn to the real 'love potion.'
What better way to kick off a compilation about LOVE AND AFFECTION than with a song called "Ska Dong" by the Screaming Orgasms? I'll admit, this didn't seem like my idea of love, more like a one-night fling, but putting the name aside the music isn't that bad. Besides the vocals imitating a dog's bark, which appeared a few times during the song, the horns were powerful enough to make the song listen-able. A decent instrumental, this song wouldn't have been my choice to start off the album. "Thrill Me Up" by Chris Murray and the Secondhands, on the other hand, would have been a great choice to start off the album. Its melody is danceable, it has a well-written chorus, and the whole song is just mighty lovable. The vocals are smooth, sounding very honest when they sing, "But now you 'Thrill Me Up.' You 'Thrill Me Up,' and you feel me up with everything I need," which is very important, because when you're dealing with songs about love, you don't want a phony-sounding romantic trying to pass off a love song for some cheesy reason. Lower East Side Buck's "Davina (What You Doin' To Me?)" has to be one of the best tracks on this CD. Very up tempo, this song will have you dancing and singing, singing and dancing, and flat out smiling. With the same level of energy that Rob Hingley brings to the Toasters, he demonstrates his ability to jump out and continue it with his side project. In the CD booklet, every band was asked a two questions. One of them was, "Love is to Chocolate as Your Band is to..." Hingley's answer was "Side Projects." With a song like this, as well as some other good songs popping up on other Moon Ska compilations, I was left wondering, "When is Rob going to put out a Lower East Side Buck album?" We can only wait, because if this song is any indication, the ska world will have something to look forward to if he does in fact plan on a future full-length. Skinnerbox's "Uno Dos Tres" was a bit of a disappointment to me. With King Django previously releasing some very, very memorable music, this song just didn't seem to have the bite and power of some of his other material. That's not to say this song wasn't good, because it was, but I was expecting a lot more and was let down. Franceska's "I Don't Want Your Lovin'" is a very romantic number, despite the title. Led by female vocals, this song's traditional style has a warm feeling that makes you just want to wrap your arms around someone and give them a big hug, telling them everything is alright. The Toasters' "Don't Say Forever (Lover's Mix '98)" is another stand out track on this album. A catchy chorus mixed with soulful verses, wrapped around a tight band and a horny upbeat, everything is very hypnotizing. The song will take advantage of you, in a good way, and let me tell you, you won't forget this one. And as with previous compilations, Moon Ska has once again decided to end with a few bonus dub tracks. Concluding this disc is none other than the 'Astrosmash Dub' version of "Thrill Me Up." Although nothing could ever take the place of the original, this song is mighty enjoyable.
Some of the themes on this compilation deal with bad relationships, but for the most part the music is always soaked in love. Forget about white wine and Kenny G, some red wine and your LOVE AND AFFECTION CD will get you a better shot at what you want, you have my guarantee! I'll give this disc a B+.
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