Various Artists

Generic Skaca

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One of the glories of the American ska scene has been not just the dedication of its grassroots fans, but the toil many have cheerfully undertaken on the scene's behalf. Darrell Rubio, for instance, was an avid club-goer increasingly frustrated by the recording industry's indifference to ska. Finally, Rubio took matters into his own hands, set up his own label, Stiff Dog, and determinedly set off to launch it with a compilation stuffed with as many of the bands he admired as he could. Generic Skaca was the result. "I did not know what I was doing at the time, and since it was a side job I didn't put too much effort into it," he self-deprecatingly explained a few years later. But don't believe it; it's no easy task convincing even hungry-for-the-limelight bands to actually deliver the goods, and Rubio managed to elicit music from 24, hailing not just from his own southern Californian neighborhood but the Midwest, Florida, Toronto, even Australia. And just look at those names -- Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, the Suicide Machines, the list goes on and on, a roster of groups whose appearance here would lead to a slew of full-length albums, some on Stiff Dog itself, helping to establish reputations, and in some cases national fame and fortune. Although the ska scene had already been treated to a number of seminal regional compilations and Moon Ska Records had unleashed its classic 1994 country-wide roundup, Skarmageddon, the year before, that latter set was all over the map musically. Generic was groundbreaking in providing a showcase for the ska-core crowd, even if Rubio's definition of that subgenre was broad enough to include the Skatalites-inspired Skanksters and the rocksteady-flavored Skolars. But those two are the exception to this 2 Tone-packed, punk-laced, rock-raised, hardcore-hitting set. Within, every band jostles for attention, delivering up high-energy numbers in myriad inspired variations, many skillfully blending other stylistic elements into their sonic mixes. Thus contrary to its title, this compilation makes nonsense of the concept that ska-core is in any way, shape, or form generic. The template for the entire genre, a launch pad for many later heroes, Generic Skaca kicked open the door that an entire scene mashed through.

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