Remember when ska was popular again in the 90′s for about three months? It seemed like you couldn’t swing a dead fish without smacking into a ska cover of some popular song. A couple come to mind: Reel Big Fish’s take on “Take On Me”, Save Ferris’s cover of “Come On Eileen” or Goldfinger’s version of “Rio.”
While fans of The Specials and The English Beat were throwing up in their mouth a little bit, my generation was discovering great new bands like No Doubt, Dance Hall Crashers, The Mighty Mighty BossTones and Less Than Jake. None of these bands had anything resembling the edge of the second-wave (or 2 Tone) ska bands of the 70′s. But what they lacked in snarl they made up with in sugar.
It’s hard to resist sing-a-long-worthy, sped-up, pop songs with rapid fire drums, roaring guitars and horns-a-plenty. (this is probably why the ska-covers of pop songs work so well) These bands threw out the Reggae influences of 2 Tone and replaced them with California skate-punk. On their record “Losing Streak”, Less Than Jake spin out sixteen of such tracks (rarely extending past the two minute mark.) There’s a nod to the rude boys out there (“Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”) but otherwise there’s very little to connect “Losing Streak” to second-wave ska. Instead, we’re treated to sunny party anthems that may not be conducive to skanking as much as moshing. The next generation will hate this stuff, I’m sure.