The Toasters originally released their second album Skaboom back in 1987, on the Celluloid label. By 1994, five more full-lengths had followed, and it was a sign of their success that the group at this point decided to reissue Skaboom, along with eight bonus tracks. Four of these tracks comprised the band's Recriminations EP, which actually began life as a demo produced by an old mate of Bucket's, Joe Jackson, and which was self-released on 12" single in 1985. Although ska-based from the get go, surprisingly, Recriminations was not only brass-less, but revels in a new wave-y sound and male/female dueting vocals. "Run Rudy Run," in contrast, showcased the band's rootsier side, and its moody, bluesy melodica was provided by Jackson himself. Two years later, the Toasters' debut album Poolshark arrived via the Unicorn label, and four tracks from that set were culled for inclusion here. That set was brasher, brighter, and more emphatically ska driven than their earlier material, albeit with eclectic backdrops that ranged from the surf-side to the juke joint. Now boasting a brass section, and two new vocalists, the Toasters' sound was significantly shifting while the lineup continued expanding. By the time they came to record Skaboom, the group had ballooned into an 11-piece aggregate. The resulting high adrenaline album found the band in top form, their playing extremely tight, and the arrangements increasingly intricate and innovative. The Toasters' signature sound was now in place and instantly recognizable, and while Two Tone based, was blended with myriad other elements that continually shook up the styling in kaleidoscope fashion. Check out the hip-hop goes dread-jazz "ABC's" to catch this amalgamation at its most stunningly creative. The driving "Talk Is Cheap" remained a band fave, and would later be recut for their Hard Band for Dead album. The propulsive "Weekend in LA" would also be redone, turning up in fine style on Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down. While Poolshark's title track was itself instantly recycled to great effect. In fact, the only thing on this reissue is "Beat Up," The Toasters' debut single (it would, however, appear on the Thrill Me Up reissue). It would have been nice to compare it to its new version "East Side Beat," which the band included on Skaboom. New or old, fresh or recut, there isn't a less than highly entertaining number within. Many more changes were to follow, along with a stream of stellar releases, but this is where it all started for the Toasters, and what a grand beginning it was.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene