Cleopatra describes Ska au Go Go as a CD that singer/producer Neville Staple (of the Specials and Fun Boy Three fame) "put together for the die-hard ska fans," which is sort of like calling Robert Cray a blues purist who never strays from the 12-bar format. Cray is an excellent bluesman, but he's no purist -- many of his songs have more to do with soul and funk than the blues. And similarly, Staple's Special Skank project certainly doesn't cater to ska purists 100 percent of the time. Many of the songs on this CD combine punk or alternative rock with ska or reggae, but some of them have little or no Jamaican influence -- and that certainly doesn't make Ska au Go Go a bad album. This 2002 release may not be the world's ultimate ska manifesto, but if you're the sort of eclectic, broad-minded listener who holds ska, reggae, punk, alternative rock, and hip-hop in equally high regard, Ska au Go Go offers many rewards. Far from a ska-only disc, Ska au Go Go is a musical roller coaster that ranges from ska-punk and reggae rock to punk-pop ("Entrapment") and sociopolitical rap-rock ("World on Fire"). Staple even gets into a rap-metal groove (à la Limp Bizkit or Rage Against the Machine) on the in-your-face "Don't Mess With Me." Meanwhile, those who treasure classic reggae and ska of the '60s and '70s will appreciate covers of "Johnny Too Bad," Peter Tosh's "Maga Dog," and Bob Marley & the Wailers' "Simmer Down" (which, back in 1963, was Marley's first major hit). Although not for ska purists, this CD is as solid and pleasing as it is unpredictable.
Ska au Go Go Review
by Alex Henderson