Early Ska

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by SoComSurfing, Jul 25, 2002.

  1. SoComSurfing

    SoComSurfing Mercedes Benz Superdome. S 127. R 22. S 12-13.

    Feb 15, 2002
    Mobile, Al
    I've been a big fan of ska for quite a while now, but it's been all 3rd wave stuff. Lately, though, I've been listening to some compilations of the older stuff, Original, 2-tone, etc. This stuff was great! Judge Dread, the Selecters, Bad Manners, the Specials, the Heptones. These bands were all so great! Maybe this is my way of bridging the gap between ska and the jazz I've been getting into lately. I know, that's a big stretch, but maybe it'll work.
    In particular I've been listening to "Ska Box Anthology" and "Sweet, Sweet Ska". These are both 3 disc sets that I picked up for about $15 each. Does anyone have any more good compilations to recommend? I want to seek out some more of these artists, but want to find some more, too.
  2. Listen


    May 19, 2002
    Would you consider Operation Ivy to be ska? They're great! Oh, and when you say "old ska" do you mean before the horns?
  3. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Op Ivy is very cool... but they are ska punk... does that count?! Well early ska... don't quote me on this but I'm fairly sure "Madness" is the first Ska band... check out "One step beyond." That's some damn ass ska if I've ever heard it.
  4. RedV


    Mar 19, 2002
    Eustis, FL
    Man, if you don't have some recordings by the Specials you should go do that now:)

    And yeah, I think you could consider Operation Ivy ska. Either way it's dang good listening.

  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    No - Madness were "second generation" Ska - so Ska started originally in Jamaica, where the local DJs would play Jazz records and the musicians attempted to play like that. So early Ska had walking basslines but no swing and guitar on the offbeat.

    Anyway a lot of Jamaicans emigrated to England and their children mixed the music of their parents with the energy that was around with punk - so you got bands that had second generation black people in bands with white punks!

    Madness were part of this, although they had no black members unlike Specials, Selecter etc. Their most famous tunes were based very closely on the original Jamaican music and their name comes from a Prince Buster tune - he was one of the original Ska heroes from the late 50s early 60s in the Caribbean.
  6. Listen


    May 19, 2002
    Ska is fast reggae!
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Not exactly - classic ska has a walking bassline - 4 beats to the bar squarely. Whereas classic Reggae is "one drop" where you don't play on the first beat of the bar - creating a syncopated effect.

    Reggae basslines tend to be mostly root-fifth and with a lot more space in the bar than Ska.

    The syncopation in Ska comes from the guitar or piano playing chords on off-beats.
  8. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    The first ska band was the Skatelites in the mid sixties. I read an interview with one of their members one time. He said that some of those guys got together in the studio one day to try and create a unique Jamaican sound. Up to that point the Jamaican bands had been doing jazz and American covers that they heard on the radio. They came up with the guitar skank as a different beat.

    One Drop means the bass drum lays off the one. The bass quite often plays on the one.

    Other reggae drum beats include rockers, which has four on the floor bass drum, nyahbinghi which use heartbeat bass drum, and dancehall which is kind of a "bass bass snare" like the three of a mambo clave played over and over.

    Another thing to note is that in ska the skank is counted more on the upbeat but in reggae it is counted on the two and four more often. Dancehall quite often doesnt have a skank at all.
  9. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    1st Generation - the Skatalites. Before Reggae.

    May I add, do a search on SKA here. This is fairly well-trodden ground on TB.

  10. This Is Ska is a fairly good 1st wave ska comp........ btw op ivy is a ska+punk band...... they are a total skunk band...

    if you like ska-jazz. the only way to go is the newyork ska jazz ensemble......they are on moonshot records
  11. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Can I add Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady Seven to that recommendation. They put on a great live show (as does Dave's main gig, The Slackers).
  12. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    I've heard alot about an old ska group called King Turtle or something like that.
  13. BigTed


    Jul 1, 2002
    San Diego
    The Skatalites are definately one of the Major Ska Pioneers. Also check out early works of; The Wailers, The Upestters, The Toots And The Maytals, and Roland Alphonso.

    More recent Skatalites albums really dabble into the Jazz realm, and if Jazz/Ska is what your looking for, definately check out the New York Ska Jazz Ensamble.
  14. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Also check out Desmond Dekker. I don't know how I forgot him... He get's name-checked in a Rancid song (Roots Radicals - "The radio was playing, Desmond Dekker was singing")

    Cool aside: Rancid songs are littered with references to old school ska and reggae. There's also the song Radio (compare the intro with Trenchtown Rock) and Blood Clot (Upsetters and Mad Professor references). And that's just off the top of my head...
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I don't know what you're listening to, but if you listen to any classic Jamaican Reggae the bass line avoided the first beat of the bar.

    Last night I watched Bob Marley and the Wailers live at the Rainbow and every single bass line in a 90 minutes set was avoiding the one! :rolleyes:
  16. I have a friend here in Spain who has a huge collection of vintage ska, reggae, and rocksteady from the 60s and 70s. All underground stuff, man. The guy is very informed about the subject.

    The whole movement began in the sixties... as a matter of fact Bob Marley started out back then.

    The Specials came too late to be old... their "Message To Rudy" was originally made in the sixties or seventies... it's not their song.

    As for Madness, I can see why my friend doubts they are ska or reggae... the songs have too much European and even New Wave influence to it. They sound as though reggae and ska was only part of the equation.

    Then again that's all the info I had but this pal of mine has all the bases covered on the subject... plus about 100s of 45s and real old cool s***...
  17. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    I can list plenty of classic reggae and Bob marley one drop songs where the bass plays on the one.
    (BTW, 90% of Bob Marley songs are one drop.)

    Some examples: Stir It Up, Get Up Stand Up, I Shot the Sheriff, No Woman No Cry, Burning and Looting, Lively Up Yourself, War, Burning Spear - Marcus Garvey, Toots - 54-46

    Those are off the top of my head. I could come up with many others if you want.

    Some that dont play on the one: Natural Mystic, One Drop, Crazy Baldheads, Abyssinians - Satta Massa Gana, One Drop

    Seeing as some of these songs I listed are on the video you watched, I must ask how you count the one in reggae.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, I didn't watch the whole thing and of course you are right about No Woman No Cry which is fairly untypical for it's bass line, but my original point is that Reggae is not just Ska slowed down. It has a lot of rhythmic subtelties which are not present in Ska.

    My feeling is that classic reggae basslines avoid the first beat in the bar and this is what gives the characteristic "spacey" feel of most of the grooves - but of course for riffs and things bass is going to follow the guitar or keyboards. Anyway - this is clearly something that Ska does not do!
  19. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    I never said reggae is ska slowed down. I would agree about there being more rhythmic subtelties in reggae than ska, and I think that is because the beat slowed down allowing more space for those subtletes.

    But your feeling about classic reggae basslines avoiding the one more often than not is pretty much wrong IMO.

    Reggae Riddims.com is for anyone that wants further research on reggae riddims and the different songs associated with particular riddims.

    JamRid has audio clips of many classic riddims.
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Do I really need someone from Berlin, talking "cod" Jamaican patois? ;)

    I would rather put my faith in Oscar Stagnaro who teaches bass at Berklee - here is a direct quote from his book (Section 4 Caribbean Styles) - Reggae :

    "One Drop - with the "One Drop" beat (kickdrum on the third beat), the first note of the measure for the bass is on the third beat, with the bass drum, implying a hesitation by leaving out the first beat in the measure."