House of Rhythm

In a Different Style

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Most of the '90s "ska revival" bands have about as much to do with real ska as Be-Bop Deluxe has to do with Charlie Parker. In this respect, the British ska band House of Rhythm is a refreshing change. This is pure ska, based on the chugging rhythms and flexibility of Coxsone Dodd's classic '60s sides. The five-man band (augmented by a pair of saxophonists and keyboard players) plays original material, but it's so steeped in the traditions of Jamaican pop that when the group does use older material, it fits in seamlessly. For example, the opening "Rudi" is basically a rewrite of the ska classics "Rudie Can't Fail" and "A Message to You Rudy," and "Rockfort Rock/Revolution" uses an old Skatalites melody that sounds perfectly in keeping with the rest of the album. No particular lyrical or instrumental wizardry is on display, but the band is super tight, and lead singer Leon Kirkland has a natural, conversational flow to his vocals, with none of the affected quality of many '90s ska singers. Those who don't like traditional ska will not have their minds changed by In a Different Style, but it's a solid album all the way around.

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