Various Artists

Ska-ntastic: Vintage Jamaican Ska 1963-66

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Ska-ntastic: Vintage Jamaican Ska 1963-66 is a terrific compilation of classic rock-steady ska from the mid-'60s. It includes better-known artists such as the Skatalites (with six songs, including "Love in the Afternoon" and the band's take on Duke Ellington's "Caravan" entitled "Ska-Ra-Van"); vocalist Jackie Opel (with the soulful "Pictures of Smoke") and trumpeter Baba Brooks (here with the Trenton Spence Orchestra on "Five O'Clock Whistle"); and virtually unknown but strong performing groups like the Jetts ("Someone"), Bibby and the Astronauts ("Please Beverley," and the Angelic Brothers ("Ten Virgins"). The sound quality is not the clearest, but there is no hiss, and the slight muddiness resulting from the age of the tapes does not detract from this excellent music.

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