Various Artists

Mash It Up, Vol. 3

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Back by popular demand, DVS Media unleash the third in their seminal series of Beantown ska. The first, Mash It Up, arrived in 1987, and did precisely that. Six years passed before its follow-up, Mash It Up '93, appeared, but so overwhelming was the response that the third volume came along hot on its heels the next year. Seven of the bands featured on that last set make an encore appearance here, including the Allstonians, with their jazz-fired tribute to their hometown neighborhood, "Allston, Mass.," while Steady Earnest offer up a fabulous take on Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady," as well as their own bouncy "Talking Gibberish." Les Misérables Brass Band, meanwhile, serve up a brass flambé version of Tommy McCook's "Latin Goes Ska." Bouncing across the grooves comes Beat Soup and their "Coup de Ska." Mr. Cranky's back too, demanding that you "Get Out of My House," while Thumper gets the set hopping with their alt-rock/ska "Another Day," and Santa's sweet "Reel Me In" is sure to have you hooked. That latter band is a Bim Skala Bim side project, and the mothership is also on board; their gorgeous, horn-drenched rocksteady "Simple Song" is one of the most accomplished on the set. Bim, of course, were featured on the first Mash, as were the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who now return with the kicking "Howwhywazhowwhyam." Although the I-Tones were also around at the time, they didn't participate, but finally join the fun here, beautifully delivering an old standard in sublime trad style. From old hands to fresh faces: Skavoovie may just have left high school, but they sound like absolute pros on this jaunty take of Ray Charles' "One Mint Julip." Jah Spirit & the Heavy Metal Horns join forces for the bubbling reggae "Wake Up" call, another standout. Every number here is worth a listen and virtually all are of the highest caliber -- there isn't a clunker in earshot -- and so Mash It Up continues to offer not just the best of Boston ska, but some of the best in the country.

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