Anti-Nowhere League have been releasing punk rock/hardcore/oi albums since I was in diapers…and not the adult kind. So what could the band do to change things up all while providing a sonic tribute to a genre not their own but one that inspired them just the same? They could release “League Style”, a tribute to the Trojan Records artists of the 60s and 70s.
While one would be totally justified in thinking that the ska and reggae songs covered on “League Style” would follow suit with the League’s style of hardcore street punk, instead we see the band going full on reggae-tinged punk which makes for one hell of an album. Some of the seminal reggae artists covered on “League Style” are the cream of the crop with tracks from the Slickers, Derrick Morgan, the Bleechers, the Pioneers and Prince Buster.
“League Style” kicks off with one of the most recognizable and most covered reggae tracks of all time, “Johnny Too Bad” by the Slickers. ANL add a furious punk rock sound to the infectious reggae track. “Suzanne, Beware of the Devil” carries on the party with a pretty solid reggae/punk track with some kick ass guitar solos sprinkled in. “Singer Man” takes elements of the original and blends it with the classic street punk sound of ANL to form a hybrid sing-a-long street punk reggae chant.
A couple of my favorite tracks overall would definitely have to be “Fat Man” by Derrick Morgan, the classic “Long Shot Kick ‘De Bucket” by the Pioneers and a surprising choice track of “Big Five” by Prince Buster. “Fat Man” starts off as a fast-paced skankable song and mutates back and forth into a raucous punk rock track in a Jekyll and Hyde way. “Long Shot Kick ‘De Bucket” is just the combination of a great song being covered by a great band in a great way. And my absolute favorite track from “League Style” is definitely the raunchy, rude and raucous track “Big Five” by Prince Buster. It is absolutely a perfect fit for Anti-Nowhere League and the band does it justice, complete with an homage to the buzzed out words from the original song.
For a band that prides itself on their punk rock roots, “League Style” makes it seem like the band has been playing reggae influenced punk rock for the last 37 years. While some fans may be turned off by the departure of sound for this one particular tribute album, others will surely be excited to hear Anti-Nowhere League’s take on some classic reggae tunes. “League Style” allowed the band to pay homage to another side of their roots all while (hopefully) introducing their fans to the tracks that inspired them in some way. It is absolutely a fun listen and worth the price of admission.
Bottom Line: What happens when you take a band that has been known for their furious punk rock sound for nearly four decades and they cover classic reggae tracks from the Trojan Records catalog? You get kick ass reggae infused punk rock by a band that can play both sounds surprisingly well.
Notable Tracks: Johnny Too Bad, Long Shot Kick ‘De Bucket, Big Five, Fat Man, Love of the Common People