Various Artists

Intensified!: Original Ska 1962-1966

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The roots of Kingston ska and rocksteady are opened with an explosion like a bottle of Red Stripe beer on Mango's collection Intensified: Original Ska 1962-1966. Driving horns and sweaty dancehall vocalists push and pop these 16 tracks, which crackle and spark with island intensity; sultry and celebratory all at once. Legends Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, the Skatalites, and the Maytals all turn in stellar cuts, and ska standards like "Penny Reel," "Housewife's Choice," and "Solomon Gundie" are all here in their original form. What is most fascinating about these recordings is to hear what was happening in a truly underground music scene at the same time as Beatlemania and the British Invasion were sweeping the world. Through these island rhythms the listener can hear the Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" disguised as the Skatalites' "Independent Anniversary Ska" and Roland Alphonso's gritty take on the James Bond theme, incorporating the day's pop culture elements into their infectious dance music. On the other hand, Intensified can also be listened to without analysis and just regarded as one of the greatest summer party albums of all time. [A second volume, More Intensified: Original Ska 1963-1967, Vol. 2, is also available from Mango/Island Records].

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