In the music industry, trends come and trends go. There's always a hot genre, band, or record that people will flock to stores for. Many people surf trend after trend endlessly, always looking for the next big thing while others are content to just go in their own direction and find a niche in the music world to call their own. Anyone who had their fingers on the pulse of the punk rock scene several years ago probably knows how much of a hot ticket ska music was. It was a fad that reached out to thousands of people all over the world. Unfortunately, fads tend to die down in the same amount of time it takes for them to become popular. Ska took a pretty bad beating just after 1999, and kids you were skanking it up beside one day were listening to completely different music the next. Many bands broke up or changed their style, and record sales in the genre plummeted. Still Standing is a tribute to all the bands and fans that have maintained interest in ska, even after many more people moved on. After all, ska music has been around for much longer than 1997!
Still Standing is definitely a huge undertaking between Jump Up Records owner Chuck Wren and Toasters frontman Bucket. The 4 cds on this compilation consist of over 5 hours of music, and 88 songs between well known ska artists and smaller up and comers. Each cd is a mix between traditional ska songs and faster paced ska similar to what has been popular in the more recent years. I think this balance was a good idea as I never liked the way the old Skarmageddon compilations would divide the bands based on their music style. Of course, a compilation with so many bands isn't going to be perfect the entire way through. There are a few "duds" that do appear on this cd. Most aren't too bad, although the Bum Ruckus song "Wuts Your Sign" has to be the most god awful piece of crap that's ever been associated with ska. Thanks to the makers of this cd it's the very last song on the first disc, so I just press eject after Taj Motel Trio stops playing.
The real gems on Still Standing are many, and spread all over the place. It's no surprise that the Toasters start the first cd off with the insanely danceable tune "Sitting On Top Of The World". A few songs later, The Stingers ATX appear with the song "Rich Boy Now" which has to be the greatest song for a guy to listen to that's recently been dumped by his woman. Other amazing songs on the first disc are "Leaving Town" by Las Cabriolas, "Spaced Man" by Let's Go Bowling, and "Scenester" by everyone's favourite Boston ska-punkers Big D and the Kids Table. Right after listening to the first disc I was almost certain it would be my favourite of them all. What surprised me was how wrong I was.
After listening to the second disc, I finally knew which cd would see the most time in my stereo. The Slackers start things off perfectly on this disc with "Axes", just as the Toasters did with the first cd. It gets even better from there. The fifth song on this cd is by far my first and foremost favourite song on Still Standing. After Hours, which features members of Hepcat on vocals, as well as a few other well known names, are the greatest studio project I've ever heard. "Once In A While" is a song that would fit nicely on any Hepcat cd, and it definitely goes well on Still Standing. As a Hepcat fan I feel guilty that I don't already have the After Hours cd, so I guess I know what I'll be buying the second my student loans come through. Mu330 and The Kingpins both keep this cd flowing with great tunes, followed by my second favourite Still Standing song "Market Place" by The Chinkees. I don't see how anyone can listen to this song and then walk away without humming it at the very least. I'm a fan for the catchy tunes, and this song is really damn catchy. Another good song is "In the Rain" by The Independents. I heard this years ago on another compilation, and was surprised to hear it again. Though some people might not like the sound of it, it's definitely one of the most original songs on Still Standing because of it's psychobilly vibe.
Disc 3 is where things start to slow down a bit. Though it's not disappointing, there aren't as many good songs that stick out than on the other cds. It's still good listening though. Bim Skala Bim keeps the tradition of a good start with "Exit Door". Also on this cd are several Canadian bands which I was already familiar with. The Planet Smashers, General Rudie, and The Afterbeat, each have great songs but The Afterbeat surprised me with "Me & You". I hope they come play in Kitchener sometime in the next while because that is one tight band.
Disc 4 is where all the ska punkers out there will rejoice. Though it still has some traditional ska, this CD is more focused on ska-punk bands. The well known ones like Mustard Plug, Skadaddyz, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Buck O Nine and Forces of Evil all have songs that are fast, catchy, and fun. I was a bit disappointed with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones song though. After such an amazing release as "A Jackknife to a Swan" I was hoping they would put one of their newer songs on there. "Time to Toast" isn't a bad Bosstones song, but "Chasing The Sun Away" would have been a perfect tune instead. Aside from the big bands, Westbound Train definitely impressed me with "My Heart Belongs to You" and Schematics ended things off just right with an awesome song called "Riverside Drive".
Overall, I would say Still Standing has lived up to the hype that preceded it. There are so many great songs on the cd that I never mentioned, if you are a fan of ska music or at least enjoy it, than I suggest you buy this and hear them for yourself. Thank you Chuck and Bucket for putting together such a great compilation.
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