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Ska-Line Round up of the Global Ska Scene 21st February 2021

Whilst we await the next version of our escape plan from COVID here's what's going on in the ska scene!


Due soon - the new split single from The Skapones and Detroit Riddim Crew on Cosa Nostra Records. The Skapones track - Eyes of a Child. DRC - Look Around.

Last time Detroit Riddim Crew hosted The Skapones on the Do Something / Girl Inside split EP. This time, it's The Skapones hosting. There really is no such thing as a typical Skapones single is there. And again they break any mould that starts to form around them. At just a shade under 6 minutes long, this is never going to be a 100mph skanker but this is no slouch of a tune. The extra time gives the tune time to develop and grow. From their press release: 'we are given deep and insightful lyrics that remain direct yet ambiguous, to achieving awareness, to life lessons to awakenings, all delivered in a sharp crisp arrangement and tune bursting with 2Tone-esque rhythms, great brass riffs and harmonious melody from the North east skankers whilst showcasing all their major influences yet remaining highly original.'


I think that Cartoon Violence are setting some kind of record for the most mentions on the BDR blog as Chuzz lends his ivory tinkling talents and Carlos Russell from Malambo Ska adds to the percussive battalion. Thought provoking and imminently danceable, this gives us a sneaky insight into what we may experience in the eagerly awaited second Skapones album - Northern Gods.

On the flipside, we get what I thing is the best Detroit Riddim Crew track yet. Look Around is superbly catchy number with an easy laid back feel. A ska influenced tune after last year's Fight For Your Rights / Falling Down (Another jewel in the DRC crown) which had a much more dubby feel. This complements the Skapones track superbly.

Sneaky Skapones teaser here:


Available on digital and luvverly red vinyl (no firm date due to delays after lockdowns etc. - it will be worth the wait.) Keep a cautious eye on https://www.theskapones.co.uk/ for ordering when it lands, It will go quick as only limited numbers available!

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A goodly few singles released this week / soon including a new single from Half Past Two - All About You - a light bouncing track of love and stuff, full of she-bop she-bops and most of all, it really is track full of sunshine and just makes you feel great.


Tara and the gang are one of the first bands to have contacted us and shared their music with us since way back in 2016. This is the first track from their upcoming new album.


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New track released on Thursday from New York's The Abruptors - Forget Me Not. You hear it and instantly know it's American (not in the Sublime / RBF way - in a good way) A mid paced foot tapper from this Buffalo 4 piece. An uncomplicated song about lost love and it is another uplifting track that just kinda makes you feel good. Hard edged drums lively up this super track that is brightening this grey morning.

Available at https://theabruptors.bandcamp.com/track/forget-me-not

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AKA The Syndicate have a brand new track releasing March 5th from all the usual outlets. This song is the follow up to 'HandsUp (Who's Coming With Me)' featuring Roddy Radiation Byers. This latest song features Gary Knight (The Collective AKA), Laura Betts (The Skatonics), Sean Williams (The Beat GB), Bobby Blencowe (The Launchers), Fiona Creese (The Collective AKA), Bob Dear (The Collective AKA/Soundation) and Richard Coppen (Tenpole Tudor/King Kurt).

The 2-Tone sound is undeniably a huge influence; from the Kix inspired Sax sound to the Rhoda Dakaresque composition and a very More Specials lounge background feel. Great tune and very cool to hear Laura singing on this. A taster is provided for your delectation:

They describe their sound as ' a unique studio project which has evolved during the pandemic, it is formed of musicians from various bands - most of who still haven't met yet! - and has largely been written and recorded remotely. Two Sides Of the City is the third release - inspired by the British Two Tone movement - the track aims to provide relevant social commentary accompanied by an addictive bouncing off-beat rhythm, an in-your face brass section and haunting guitar riff and female vocals'

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Roddy Radiation fans prick up your ears. Omegaman (Marc Scully - bassist with bands MX Warheads, Love Rodeo, Deadly Hume, Nick Barker & The Reptiles & RATCAT) releases 'Rebel Rocker' featuring Ikenna & Roddy Radiation (The Specials, SkaBilly Rebels etc)

Release date March 5th on Fort Knox Recordings. So far, we have been treated to the instrumental version. A reggae heavy, bassy production with Roddy's characteristic rockabilly guitar twang. Very interested to hear the full version - https://fortknox.bandcamp.com/album/rebel-rocker-ft-ikenna-roddy-radiation

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Unless you have had your ska head stuck under a rock, you won't have escaped the South American influence on the ska scene, Los increibles Chepos hail from Southern Mexico and play a heady mix of rocksteady beat, jazz, funk, rock and reggae. They have just released a 6 track EP of uptempo latin jazz infused trad ska. Each track is a belter but the standout track for us is HAPPY VAMPIRE ( OXLAHUNTIKU MASTERPIECE ) This has a heavy swing feel to it reminiscent of Hey Pachuco (Dance Hall Crashers)

https://losincreibleschepos.bandcamp.com/album/rocksteady-is-for-lovers

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Staying with Mexico, but moving to Mexico City, the ever fantastic Taapa Groove have released a retrospective of some of their finest tunes - 16 ÉXITOS. Absolutely stunning latin, rocksteady, trad ska vibes from this 14 piece crew. Check out Petricor (one of our favourite tunes of theirs and a favourite word too!).

This 16 track album covers their 12 year history and each track has such an urgency about it through a driving beat (even the rocksteady numbers leave you breathless) and superb musicianship. This is towards the top of my 'must see live after all this pandemic shit goes away' list. Mandarin is a stand out track in a high quality album from start to end. https://taapagrooveoficial.bandcamp.com/album/16-xitos

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Massively excited for the new Culture Shock release! Yes kiddos - they're back! Mandemic releases May 1st, but they are teasing us with their first track Penny for the Guy. A true return to form from the British Ska punkers - in their own words, 'Recorded in the available moments between lockdowns and largely never played live, these songs are fresh and bouncy, fired up and angry, solid and spikey - both a reflection of and an antidote to the current times'. Penny For the Guy backs their claim up well. Available to pre-order from https://cultureshockuk.bandcamp.com/album/mandemic-pre-order


What has also caught our eye is also the fact that for the princely sum of £21.60 you can purchase their entire digital back catalogue! Yes that is EVERYTHING! Go Wild! Onwards and Upwards, All The Time! (which some bugger nicked from a party in the early 90s) 40 demos from that era PLUS Found it in a Skip, The Humanity Show, Attention Span, Solar Power AND Mandemic! Check out Catching Flies from back in 88


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Si Cranston (Ex Dualers) treated to an acoustic version of Rise & Shine. How we miss his voice! If this doesn't make you smile... there's something wrong with your sound buds (like tastebuds but for your ears.)


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Months ago (it seems?) we caught wind of a CD box set covering the phenomenon known as ska explosion or British Ska Revival. 'If you know your history, then you will know where you're coming from' sang the late, great Robert Nestar Marley and he's right. We all know that ska came from Jamaica, it then travelled to the UK in the Windrush era and nestled and grew underground until The Specials / The Selecter / The Beat / Madness and The Bodysnatchers burst onto the 2-Tone scene. From then it spread around the world and grew into what we have today. HOWEVER... this is when I got back into ska. Loved the whole 2-Tone thing on TOTP and in the charts. So excited as a pre-teen when each single was released but that wasn't the whole story. After a brief sojourn through metal and punk, I returned to ska around 88 as ska was finding its way into the punk scene (see Culture Shock above) and I discovered all this ska stuff that happened since 2-Tone fizzled out. This sublime 3 disc set covers so much great music from that era. Some new to me! (I know right?) So what do we have?



For starters there is a track from each of the big 2-Tone bands - which is nice but we ALL have all that so... at the same time that The Coventry Automatics were peddling their wares and morphing in The Specials, Arthur Kay was forming his own band with The Originals. Such an overlooked artist at the time and Play My Record features strongly on the first disc (a Roundabout regular spinner when we DJ'd in High Wycombe). Great to see a bit of Laurel Aitken, Judge Dread. The Lambrettas and The Piranhas all of whom had chart successes. But it's when we get to some of the more obscure artists that this compilation begins to shine.



The Akrylyx with a certain pre Fine Young Cannibals Roland Gift on vocals. Red Roll-On's great cover of Pied Piper. Graduate (who went on to be Tears for Fears) with their Elvis Costello influenced Elvis Should Play Ska, Rockers Express was one of the pseudonyms of Alex Hughes aka Judge Dread covered Roland Alphonso's Phoenix City.


Even Kim Wilde had a pop!


Alongside this are those who found their footing after pop stars had dabbled and formed the backbone of modern British ska: Potato 5, Ska-dows, The Hotknives, Maroon Town, The Loafers, The Deltones, The Riffs, Ska Boom. If the ska explosion passed you by, or you long for a return to those days, this is a pretty comprehensive collection of the 10 years supplemented with a great booklet with detailed liner notes (he says after reading it after he reviewed it!) 69 tracks of the very best of British.


It may just be a coincidence but it costs £19.69 delivered in the uk from https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/staring-at-the-rudeboys-the-british-ska-revival-1979-1989-3cd/

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Finally this week, we lost another true reggae legend U-Roy. Ewart Beckford was born 21st September 1942 in Kingston Jamaica working alongside luminaries such as King Stitt, Sir Coxsone Dodd, John Holt before launching his own solo career including:


Howeve, he is best known for introducing toasting to the world (made popular by Count Matchuki and King Stitt) but his influence was found further afield. He is also reportedly a major influence on the hip-hop vocal delivery style.


Ewart 'U-Roy' Beckford OD (21 September 1942 – 17 February 2021)



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As ever - please support these awesome artists. Give us a follow on our Bandcamp collection https://bandcamp.com/buttondownradio

and subscribe to our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/ButtonDownRadio

Mr P

February 2021


#BDR #buttondownradio #skaline #ska #newmusic #TheSkapones #DetroitRiddimCrew #HalfPastTwo #TheAbruptors #akaTheSyndicate #LosincreiblesChepos #TaapaGroove #SiCranstoun #CultureShock #URoy #skarevival #skaexplosion #omegaman #RoddyByers #RoddyRadiation #LaurelAitken #JudgeDread #TheLambrettas #Piranhas #arthurkay #Potato5 #Skadows #TheHotknives #MaroonTown #TheLoafers #TheDeltones #TheRiffs #SkaBoom


The Skapones Detroit Riddim Crew Half Past Two The Abruptors aka The Syndicate Los increibles Chepos Taapa Groove Si Cranstoun Culture Shock U-Roy Omegaman Roddy Radiation Byers Laurel Aitken Judge Dread The Lambrettas Piranhas Potato 5, Ska-dows, The Hotknives, Maroon Town, The Loafers, The Deltones, The Riffs, Ska Boom

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