Gig - Ska Toons
Originally, in the early sixties, ska was the Jamaican
version of American rhythm & blues, its joyful off-beat
kick adding a Caribbean smile. It made you want to dance.
As it became more popular, it became more versatile, too.
Bands like the Skalites started adding versions of popular
theme tunes, Beatles songs and surf instrumentals into their
set. When the Americans developed soul music, the Jamaicans
reacted in their own way, and ska music slowed down a beat,
and became ‘rock steady’, and eventually reggae.
In the late seventies, the movement moved over the Atlantic,
merged with the anger of punk, and the Two-Tone explosion
was born. All over the USA and Europe in the nineties a fusion
of new-punk and ska resulted in the eruption of a thousand
young bands, all thrashing away to that distinctive offbeat
rhythm, in an angry reaction to electronic dance music.
The Ska Toons, who return to the All Saints after playing
their first gig there five years ago, are very much an old-school
ska band. This doesn’t mean they just do ska classics:
they don’t. It means that they give that ska treatment
to a number of different songs too, often jazz numbers like
Charlie Mingus’ Fables of Faubus, Charlie Parker’s
Barbados and Glenn Campbell’s Wichita Linesman.
They are an eight-piece, with a guitarist, a bassist, a pianist,
a three-strong brass section, a drummer and a backing vocalist.
It’s a big sound, and as infectious as flu. You’ll
smile, then you’ll start tapping your foot. Before long,
you’ll probably be skanking along. AL