Various Artists

Ska: The Third Wave, Vol. 2

(CD - Shanachie #5709)

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Ska: The Third Wave was originally released on the Continuum label, then picked up by Shanachie, who reissued it with three bonus tracks. That excellent set featured tried-and-true acts from around the nation; this follow-up also boasts a clutch of veteran bands, but the bulk of the set is given over to fresh faces. Age before new kids on the block, though. Returning for encore performances are the always entertaining Mephiskapheles and the ever tighter Ruder Than You. Less Than Jake didn't appear on the last set (a surprising omission), but they're here now, giving further cred to this comp. Former cover kings turned skankers Undercover S.K.A. are a slick outfit, but donning mod suits won't bring them the success it brought Reel Big Fish. Regetta 69 had also been kicking around for over a decade, but have a bright bounce and a lovely lilt that suggests ska has been an important part of their repertoire for many years. The rest of these groups all formed yesterday. Okay, a few had been around for nearly three years, and by contemporary ska standards that was a lifetime. Particularly polished is Thumper, whose light touch here defies the band's love of metal and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Equally good are Downbeat Rulers. Their "Same Old Story" is flawless reggae, delivered in bouncy late-'60s style, while their "Rudy, Do You Know?" dips a few years back into Brit beat and rocksteady. AWOL's "Coffee," in contrast, opens in funk before storming straight into fast-and-furious third wave. The rest of the bands have barely had time to establish their own style, although Insatiable's trad sound is already as tight as a drum. So, musically this volume is not quite up to the extremely high standards of its predecessor, but it is more adventurous in giving a leg up to the then young and impatient.

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