Various Artists – “Ska Bonanza: The Studio One Ska Years”

Album Reviews | By on Jan 1st, 2003

Record Label: Heartbeat Records/Studio One
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Believe it or not, Ska was born in Jamaica. It wasn’t started by a bunch of white suburban kids from New Jersey in the 90s. It started in Jamaica around the 60’s, and that’s where little known bands such the Wailers, The Skatalites, The Maytals put country on the map for its music. The producer who almost single handedly made the music scene what it is today is Studio One’s Sir Coxsone Dodd. This compilation features music over 2 discs and has a lot of rare ska songs. The album is also remastered and contains 3 bonus tracks!

The first disc contains a lot of instrumental ska songs from various members of the Skatalites like Roland Alphonso. That man was a ska machine! The ska instrumentals aren’t really my thing. I can respect and appreciate the music, but it’s not something I’d listen to everyday. I like my old ska with a little bit of soul and singing in it. I love Motown and pretty much compare the first wave of ska to that. The second disc I already owned and loved it because it’s the CD that got me into the Jamaica ska. “Man in the Streets” by Don Drummond starts the album off nicely. I remember that opening riff was used in a Boogie Down Productions song years later. “Simmer Down” is a highly entertaining song by the young sounding Bob Marley and the Wailers. Well they were just called the Wailers back then, but you get the point. Toots are next and sing “Shine the Light.” I already like this disc better than the first because it’s nothing but singing on it, plus all the well known ska bands are on this disc. It just seems each song on this disc makes me want to dance, whereas the first disc I just wanted to chill & relax.

To conclude, I didn’t really notice how much more better the songs sounded since they were remastered. There’s only so much you can do with old songs from the 60’s. I never listened to the first disc before but didn’t really like it as much as the second disc. The second disc is worth the price of the CD alone. If you call yourself a ska fan and don’t already own Ska Bonanza, than do yourself a favor and go get this already!

Bottom Line: A remastered 2-disc set filled with Jamaican ska classics
Notable Tracks: I liked music from Roland Alphonso, Ken Boothe, Eric Monty Morris, Don Drummond, Jackie Opel, Wailers, Gaylads, and Toots and the Maytals
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