”I’m in a band, why don’t I get chicks? I sing in a band, why don’t I get chicks?” - The Scholars
It’s the year 2003, Ska has been dead for about 4 or 6 years, depending how much of a scenester you are. Ska has been Q-Tipped out of the ears of the recording industry and has been replaced with the next trend in the scene -- a bunch of guys singing about heartbreaks with metaphors and naming their band after a season. Despite that, tons of bands came out of the woodwork during the years when Ska was popular and to this day I still love most of my old Ska records.
The Scholars released “The Last Great Record of the Twentieth Century” during 1998 and I’m sure you’d be quick to toss this into a pile of bands that just jumped on the bandwagon. But hey, read the liner notes, most of these songs were recorded in 1995 before Ska hit MTV and the radio waves. And if you listen closely you’re sure hear a few people you may know that went on to be in much larger bands. Aaron Barret, Grant Barry, and Scott Klopfenstein of Reel Big Fish fame drop their talents in this band. Jay Lafayette did some time with Save Ferris and Jesse Wilder from Teen Heroes.
Although this collection of music from a deceased band isn’t as prolific as two other discographies in its genre, Operation Ivy & Slapstick, it is still an excellent bundle of Ska tunes.
The record opens up with an introduction from one of those old He-Man read-along books we all used to love. A smooth bassline allows room for the horns to poor into your ears and the party begins as Jesse sings the backwards “I Love Guys in Bands.” The song is a complete Ska tune that brings out the best in all members of the band and you should be singing along with the chorus in no time.
Once you hear the chime, you know it’s time to turn the page and the rest of the album continues. “David Gonzalez” is a simple ditty about not being able to rhyme a guy’s name. Followed by “I Want My Girlfriend Back” which keeps you skankin’ with its catchy brass section. Other notable songs are “Superdollar” and “I’m in a Band.” On top of the album tracks there’s enough bonus material, demos, and childhood references that will keep you busy for awhile.
Of course all of these songs are simple upbeat tunes that you can almost predict 100%, but there’s nothing wrong with that at all! Go ahead and pick this one up if you’re a fan of Reel Big Fish, Jeffries Fan Club, My Superhero, and/or Save Ferris it’s that hidden gem of Orange County Ska music that puts the cherry on top.