Various Artists

Ska All Mighty: Top Ska Classics From the Treasure Isle Label

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The Heartbeat label dips yet again into that seemingly bottomless vault of classic Treasure Isle recordings and comes up with yet another top-notch collection of vintage ska. As always, the great names and innovators are well represented: the legendary Skatalites check in instrumentally with "Sailing Along" and the blues-based "Strolling In," and they back up the great singing duo Owen & Leon Silvera on "Skill and Craft." The late trombone genius Don Drummond plays his own "Don de Lion" ("Don de lion," get it?) and leads the Baba Brooks Band on "Melody Jamboree." And Stranger Cole makes his inevitable appearance, teaming up with the Silveras on the charming "Koo Koo Do." But some of the best tracks are contributed by more obscure artists, including the Slickers, whose "Man Is Going to Eat Man" is a bizarre piece of musical eschatology, and the Miracles, who lead the Skatalites through the generic but nicely rocking "What Have I Done." Just about any Treasure Isle collection is a good place to start when exploring old-school ska and rocksteady; unlike many, this one is both fully licensed and generously packed.

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