Various Artists

SKAndalous: I've Gotcha Covered

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Where are you going to find Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," and the "Sanford and Son" and "Scooby Doo" themes all on one album? The answer is SKAndalous: I've Gotcha Covered, a collection of irreverent renditions of cartoon, television, and movie themes and rock & roll chestnuts by a group of third wave ska outfits. The odd group out is the pioneering pre-reggae troupe, the Skatalites. Since their initial incarnation as the premier session band working in Jamaica during the mid-'60s, the Skatalites have proven skilled interpreters of everything from soundtrack music to jazz standards. They often use covers as starting points for jazz-like improvisations propelled by ska's syncopated rhythms. The group's 1966 homage to J. Lee Thompson's war epic, The Guns of Navarone, has since become a ska classic. A 1994 update by the band, and their take on the theme for Police Woman, are the finest things here. Elsewhere, Bim Skala Bim run off with the "most eclectic cover" award with a version of Neil Young's "For the Turnstiles," while Regatta 69 is the only act to stay in genre, covering Bob Marley's "Lonesome Track." Perfect Thyroid's reading of the Beatles' "Come Together" proves an excellent showcase for a sparkling rhythm section, and Skavoovie & the Ethiopians turn out a steaming, five-minute version of "The Batman Movie Theme," delivering some fine solos along the way. Unfortunately, however, the bulk of the material either fails to translate or succeeds as novelty and little else. However, if you're looking for skank-fueled interpretations of the "Flintstones" theme, Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," or "Hawa Negila," look here.

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