The Toasters

Live in L.A.

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No one who attended any of the 1993 Skavoovee shows left anything less than exhilarated by the experience. With local heroes sharing stages with Two Tone greats and legendary Jamaican heroes, the Skavoovee tour was less a gathering of the ska tribes than an exuberant celebration of the entire movement, whose flame was burning brightly across the States in the early '90s. With no corporate sponsors or big labels backing the festivities, none of the action was preserved for posterity; only this EP would emerge, capturing the Toasters on-stage at the Los Angeles show. But across a mere 32 minutes, the CD encapsulates the sheer exhilaration of the entire gala, as well as capturing the band at the height of its power. The Toasters' set swung through nine songs, culled from across their career. The apropos "Weekend in L.A." energetically kicks off the EP with style, while the frenetic homage to their hometown, "East Side Beat" which they finish with decided flair, were both drawn from the group's 1987 Skaboom! album. The infectious "Decision at Midnight" came from its follow-up Thrill Me Up, and the title track was here given a quite spectacular Two Tone make-over. Of course the fans adore the old numbers, but the Toasters also took the opportunity to introduce some new songs as well.

On the dancehall-flavored "Legal Shot," Coolie Ranx shines, the consummate toasting and singjaying raggamuffin. Its apotheosis is "Mona," a swaggering ride back through big band swing that's so irrepressible, you know fans will be calling out for it for years to come. Both songs were quickly recut for inclusion on the group's Dub 56 album. If any short set could be said to encapsulate the group's appeal, this is it, as the Toasters swing deftly from big band jazz to rock, and across the entire reggae spectrum, from ska to rootsy dancehall. The CD's sound is excellent, the band's musicianship flawless as always, and the electricity of the night pulses across the entire disc. Live in L.A. leaves you shouting out for more; one can only imagine what the rest of the evening was like.