Ska Bonanza

Ska Bonanza: The Studio One Ska Years

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41-song, double-CD compilation of '60s ska, produced by Clement S. Dodd, largely (if not totally; the documentation is vague) at Studio One. Most of the big names of ska's vintage era are represented: Bob Marley & the Wailers, the Skatalites, Lee Perry, Don Drummond, Toots & the Maytals, Alton Ellis. Considering that ska's sometimes thought of as a homogenous style, the range of actual sounds and variants is impressive. There's New Orleans R&B-derivations, doo-wop-influenced ska, Motownish uptempo struts, soulful slower tunes, and instrumentals. The cuts by the unknowns include pleasurable surprises that match or exceed the ones by the stars; Frank Anderson's tropical instrumental "Wheel and Turn," for instance, or the goofy modern doo-wop jive of Chuck Josephs' "Du Du Wap." It isn't necessarily the best ska compilation that could have been concocted; Scandal Ska, to name just one, is on the whole a more exciting anthology. It is, however, one of the best of the relatively few available, and thus for the time being merits the highest rating. It's since been divided into two separate compilations, Streets of Ska and Go Ska Go. But get the original two-disc version if you can, as it's more convenient to have all the tracks and liner notes in one place.

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