A while back, Rob was bitten; not by a radioactive spider but by an idea to post a weekly article about a few songs that he really likes. There are so many possibilities that the series could go on forever, and so Saturday Jams was born.
So this week I had a genre in mind for you. I was going over my list and realized I had completely forgotten to put it on there, so I decided that rather than add it to the list I would address it as soon as possible. Back in the halcyon days of the mid- to late 1990’s we had this thing called ska. If you’ve never heard of it, you’ve obviously missed out on a movement that periodically picks up a little steam and then burns out because of the tight demographic the music tends to appeal to – teenagers; of course we know that being a teenager is a short phase (only in retrospect, and only for the kid). But I was into it then and I’m into it now. But it really hit a big streak right before the end of the last millennium, when there was a power surge of artists and a record spike in radio airplay of this music.
Now, there seems to be some crazy idea out there that ska traces its roots back to reggae, but in fact the opposite is true; ska music started in the 1950’s in post-war Jamaica as an R&B style that combined calypso and jazz, setting the stage for reggae to develop later on. Ska went on to become popular on the island, making the jump to Britain via the mods (kids like the Beatles), trickled through into the 1980’s and then collected a whole bunch of steam in the 1990’s as a third-wave revival movement, splitting off into “ska core” and “ska punk” styles. The distinguishing features are the walking bassline from jazz, the syncopated upbeat guitar style from calypso, and although the horn section is optional, I think it adds a certain something to the genre on the whole. Look for these features and get to know ska in the following video playlist:
Here’s some hometown heroes: big-time ska from Detroit!
(take two – they’re small. 🙂 )
Enjoy your weekend!