Crazy Baldhead

Crazy Baldhead Has a Posse: 1997-2004

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Crazy Baldhead is something of a third-wave ska supergroup, a shifting array of musicians most of whom are (or have at some time been) affiliated with New York's Stubborn Records/Version City collectives. The band is led by guitarist Agent Jay, who is a legend on the modern ska scene and has played with such eminent bands as the Stubborn All-Stars, Agent 99, and the Slackers. Crazy Baldhead Has a Posse consists of tracks recorded on the go between 1997 and 2004 with bandmates and other friends including DJ Rocker T, Slackers frontman Vic Ruggiero, bassist Victor Rice, and trombonist Buford O'Sullivan, among many others, and it finds Jay and his cohorts exploring a variety of ska and reggae sounds, from the dark and dubby "Controls" to the old-school rocksteady burner "Eye Jammy," and from the deeply dubbed-up "Vanity Dubwise" to the Latin-klezmer-dancehall fusion of "Mirage." Jay's guitar is front and center on several instrumentals, most notably the bluesy "Tick Tock," but the songs are what will stick in your head: "California" and a funny remake of the Beatles' "When I'm 64" both feature Ruggiero's wiseguy vocals, but the hidden track that ends the program is the most startling: a rough, punky adaptation of the reggae sufferer's classic "Up Park Camp" here rendered "Ryker's Island" and sung by a snarling (and uncredited) Ari Up. Brilliant.

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