(forgive me if I tell a bit of a story here)
In high school we were all ska kids. Not that we dressed the part, but in terms of musical preference the four or five of us who occupied a few square meters of hallway space every day were the “rudest” people we knew. We were all slightly too young to be heavily impacted by Nirvava and had not yet got together with the Green Day / Offspring crowd. We’d be passing around the early Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake records, attending as many Bosstones or Planet Smashers shows as we could get to and generally earning the contempt of the popular crowd with their dance music and whatnot.
The All-Skanadian Club CDs were fascinating little artifacts in our social group, collections of (to us) obscure indie artists, all sharing our nationality and taking the ska genera in different directions. Of course we grew away from it, as all kids to with the music of their youth, and now my roommate and I trade insults as I blast Hüsker Dü from my room to drown out the Pink Floyd coming from his.
My roommate wandered into my room, probably to make fun of the Cure record I was playing, and in my pile of promos he sees volume FOUR of the All Skanadian Club. For a few brief seconds it was like high school again as we excitedly looked over the tracklisting of a series we thought long gone.
Volume four of the Club is a really strong collection of tracks; it’s great to see that after the glut of `97 there’s still such a viable collection of bands across the country. With the lack of punk influences here fans of The Slackers or the Toasters will feel right at home. The Afterbeat kicks things off with the traditional vibes of “Me and You.” Other standouts include Los Furios’ “Running In Circles,” King Konqueror’s bombastic “Hush Up” and album tracks from Stomp’s General Rudie and The Planet Smashers. Relaxed moments come with King Kong Girio’s “Angry At The Girl” and The Nightshift’s jazzy instrumental “Arch Enemy.” Female vocalists steal the show with The Wedgewoods’ “On The Junk” and especially Ten Too Many’s “Love Song.” Canadian skafather Chris Murray finishes things off with a live duet with Lorraine Muller (of The Kingpins) titled “Johnny Rocksteady.” The low profile track sounds like it was recorded from the back of the bar. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in atmosphere.
This is a great collection of songs with fairly consistent quality and only a few slight misses (I enjoyed the ska-punk tracks far less than the trad stuff). Make sure you get your hands on this before even thinking of complaining about a lack of good ska records this spring.