Is Ska dead?
January 19, 2001 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Is Ska dead? Moon Records hadn't produced any of the really good Ska music for years, but I can't believe they've closed down. Is this it for Ska? Does anyone care? Do I care?
posted by Doug (19 comments total)
Ska has been around longer than you, sonny. It's not dead, even if Moon Records is.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:38 AM on January 19, 2001

(PUNX NOT DED, neither)
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:39 AM on January 19, 2001

Ska was not Moon, Moon was a part of Ska. Granted they were a big part, I don't think this signals any kind of Armageddon for ska. This doesn't bury ska much more than Columbia going under would bury pop rock. It just puts a little more of a dent in it.If you're talking about the popularity of the music, then you could say ska died sometime around the end of 1998, when all the kids decieded it wasn't the next big thing anymore. The people who are the music had been listening to it and making it before that it was the new blue, and they are today. There's just a lot less of them than there is a true fanbase for rock or rap. The same thing will eventually happen today's boy-band, pretty-girl lip syncin' superstars, and the media will find something else to pump.
posted by tomorama at 12:07 PM on January 19, 2001

Well, Ska's been around for a long time, but the shows aren't. I mean, it was a long time coming, but it was more like a natural evolution. All of the interesting bands (the bands I found interesting, at least) started experimenting with more reggae, dancehall, and dub and in fact, moving "away" from ska. But they became better, less restricted.
Before the scene kinda crashed, I was doing some stuff for Stubborn Records (which produced MUCH better stuff than Moon) and they were having INSANE distribution problems.
Are there any good "new" ska bands out there?
posted by Doug at 12:16 PM on January 19, 2001

Gotta come to Montreal. More ska bands than you can shake a stick at. Gangster Politics, the Undercover, Stomp records...
posted by mikel at 1:04 PM on January 19, 2001

I still laugh when people say that ska was "so 1998." Uh, no...ska was the Specials, the English Beat, the Selector. Madness, baby! Two-Tone records.

Want to hear some good "old" music? Listen to those bands...and remember, Ska will NEVER die!!!
posted by metrocake at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2001

Ska pre-dates Reggae, and what I hear people calling ska doesn't even resemble what Ska was so long ago. Did someone think they were making up a new music genre or is there some root in the old Ska that i just never caught?
posted by terrapin at 2:14 PM on January 19, 2001

Metrocake, those are definately good bands, but some of the bands that came afterward in the "third wave" were very good as well, if not actually better. There was a return to traditionalism, reverting back to traditional Jamaican ska. There was also, like I said, a lot of experimentation in other types of jamaican music, which the two-tone bands kind of stayed away from. But they're all good. But it seems now, at least in NY, there isn't much of a ska community, which wont help new bands coming up.
posted by Doug at 2:16 PM on January 19, 2001

As someone who has been around the punk/ska/hardcore scene since 84 ' I can tell you ska is just in hibernation so to speak. Every few years Ska seems to blow up then die out, hence the terms first wave, second wave, third wave ska. I remember Ska being big in 79-82 with Madness,The Specials etc. then it died and reemerged in 86-89 with bands like The Toasters and the NY Citizens. It then made it's big comeback in 96-99 with the numerous Skacore bands like Reel Big Fish and Less than Jake that the majors were pushing plus, some of the great stuff The Slackers, Skinnerbox and PieTasters were putting out.
What happens is pretty simple the masses get bored and move to the next flavor of the month, it happens with Disco, Pop, Country you name it. There are still a good number of fans out there but, not quite nearly as many when Reel Big Fish was on the Radio every 5 minutes.
posted by remo at 2:17 PM on January 19, 2001

Terrapin, a lot of the more publicized ska is pretty much punk music with horns. There are a lot of bands that play traditional ska.
posted by Doug at 2:22 PM on January 19, 2001

I'd like to think (hope) that ska is not dead. Sure, the number of releases & shows & whatnot has dropped quite a lot since MTV decided ska was the "next big thing" back in the day, but I don't think that an entire musical style, especially one with such longevity, would just die off.

As far as Moon goes, I think they just extended themselves too far. They got caught up in the "next big thing" thoughts and signed a bunch of bands that they really shouldn't have signed. Also, they had problems with embezzlement which I'm sure had an effect on how the label was run.
posted by zempf at 3:28 PM on January 19, 2001

People always assume that Rocket From The Crypt is a ska band simply because they have a horn section.... HAH ! I'd estimate that a great number of potential fans have missed out on them due to this assumption.
posted by afx114 at 3:32 PM on January 19, 2001

remo is Dead on...every couple of years kids "discover" ska again. Every couple of years i remember that i left all of my Prince Buster records at a girlfriends house 10 years ago. We are on 6th Wave ska at least these days.

i took off all my patches and pins and mothballed my vespa a long time ago. *sigh* Those were the days.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:45 PM on January 19, 2001

I *heart* metrocake! 80s ska rules!!

I have noticed brass sections making their way into a few pop songs lately, so maybe there's hope. Or at least hope that music will start to become fun again (80s-style) without becoming vapid at the same time (cf. Britney and all her ilk).
posted by aaron at 3:47 PM on January 19, 2001

Ya hear one electric polka song, you've heard 'em all.
posted by Wizzle at 4:41 PM on January 19, 2001

Let's all not forget the Mighty Mighty Bosstones...early Fishbone, too! (I've no idea what "wave" they'd be a part of, but they were/are damned good bands.)

If anyone likes comic books, Evan Dorkin's got one, "Hectic Planet," that is set in the future but has all sorts of groovy ska references in it. Hell, don't buy it just for that, buy it 'cause it's a rockin' series.

Now where's my plaid?...
posted by metrocake at 4:54 PM on January 19, 2001

I'll defer to Robert Christgau for a moment:
"Since the dawn of two-tone there hasn't been a single band in the style -- excluding the punk Rancid but including Madness and the Specials -- that was as songful as its fun-besotted partisans claimed. When that hippity-hop beat is hyped up for postpunk consumption, its energy somehow precludes tune."
I'll add an exception for early English Beat, but otherwise I agree.
posted by argybarg at 5:47 PM on January 19, 2001

Wow, as far as I'm concerned, Moon probably put out three, maybe four good records...ever. You've got Hepcat's first, the Adjusters' second, and the Slackers' first...all in all, a pretty lame indie label. Sure, I cared a lot more when I was a teenage rude boy, but if this is what it takes for people to start thinking "Jamaica" whenever they hear the word "Ska," I'm all for it.
posted by Eamon at 7:22 PM on January 19, 2001

Ha! I have Rocket From The Crypt recordings from before they got horns!! Indie-fu!!
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:35 PM on January 19, 2001

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