Various Artists

Ska Down Her Way: The Women of Ska

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For a genre that has become noted for casual misogyny in its late-'90s rise to popularity, the idea behind Ska Down Her Way: Women of Ska is a welcome change. Unfortunately, though, a preponderance of mediocre material keeps the compilation from following through on its promise, and some tracks don't really follow the project's implied intent of counteracting ska's current frat-party atmosphere. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the selection process; most of the bands featured are recent or up-and-coming third-wave revivalists, with a smattering of veterans (Fishbone's 1985 track "Lyin' Ass Bitch," which is funnier than it sounds but still an ironic choice for this collection), ska-metallers, and more traditionally influenced acts thrown in. The resulting smorgasbord of styles presents a fair, if haphazard. cross-section of the state of ska in 1997, but it also makes clear that the compilation is primarily a promotional tool, not a historical overview. And it won't appeal to ska fans with a strong preference for one style over another -- fans of Two-Tone and traditional ska will find some of the cuts annoying, and those who prefer the silly humor of the third-wavers will likely find something missing on too many tracks. But the lack of cohesion isn't the biggest problem -- too many of the bands included simply fail to make much of an impression or rise above the level of generic. Some do, however; obvious highlights include two tracks featuring the gorgeously smooth, soulful voice of original Skatalite Doreen Shaeffer (a 1994 track with the Skatalites and a guest spot with the Slackers), two tracks from the now-defunct Agent 99, and Mobtown's slinky, jazzy "Pussy Cat Love."

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