Big D and the Kids Table, a seven-piece ska band from the great Boston, Massachusetts scene, released The Gipsy Hill EP in 2002, a perfect followup to the deservedly hyped and third-wave classic Good Luck (1999). Although it only has nine songs, Gipsy Hill is a must-have for any Big D fan. This EP features three covers and demonstrates why they’re one of Boston’s best ska bands.
Gipsy Hill starts off with fan-favorite “Checklist.” This song displays what Big D and the Kids Table is all about: great horn lines, dissing the rich, and captivating and amusing lyrics. “I must've started life with a checklist,” Dave McWane sings, “I took the rules and broke 'em in two. I must've started life with a checklist and the first was not giving in like you.” The song is a staple in the band’s set list and is worth checking out, if you haven’t already. The next song, “Evil Girl Angry Girl,” is my favorite Big D song on the EP. This song just increases the momentum, and draws the listener into not just the song but the entire EP. The song is obviously about a teenage psycho who’s apparently using McWane’s “stardom” to gain respect on the scene, but this song also praises Big D’s crowds in Boston: “When the sun goes down with my Boston crowd … I’m staring at my friends hoping this will never end.”
When bands cover songs, the songs are usually either half-fast, not interesting, or not unique. Big D’s version of “Wailing Paddle,” however, is one of the best covers I’ve heard in a long time, a true third-wave classic. Big D made this song their own and makes listeners not think of it as a cover even if they are familiar with the Rudiments’ original version. The next track is entitled “Great Song,” the only instrumental song on the EP. Although not as great as the title suggests, it cannot be skipped -- even Mcwane’s famous “yeah”s.
“Those Kids Suck” stands at only 1:20 and introduces us to one of the EP’s dominant themes: Dave’s hate for posers. But “What the Hell Are You Going to Do” is only twelve seconds long, but with no horn lines and a non-existent chorus, this song still isn’t the most pointless song on the album. “Find Out (Brighton, UK)” holds the title of the Most Pointless Song Ever. A cover of one of Good Luck’s best songs, here it is Big D and others singing pretty much drunk. It doesn’t hold my interest at all, and is the only song I’d recommend always skipping over.
The next song, “Scenester,” brings the EP right back to its high standard and one of its most common themes: posers. This, the most laid-back track on the album, is always a great listen on the subway to school and will give you a few laughs: “And now they listen to emotional music, when they used to like punk rock, or maybe now they like chump rock.” The song is still very relatable to this day, even if this EP is now four years old. The following song, “The Difference,” is probably the second best song on this EP. This is one of Big D’s most underrated songs of all-time and sums up the overall sound of the EP. I would like to see them include “The Difference” on their set list, as they rarely perform it anymore. The EP concludes with “New England,” a cover of a song by Massachusetts’ very own Jonathon Richman. Before they play, they introduce the song: “See I come from Boston…it’s about how great New England is…my favorite place.” Although it’s not that unique of a cover, it’s still done very well and rounds off the EP.
Known for being poor, for touring constantly, and for being a great live act, Big D and the Kids Table established themselves as one of Boston’s elite with Gipsy Hill. They can hold their own with other Boston greats: Dropkick Murphys, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Explosion, the Unseen, A Wilhelm Scream, and the Click Five (haha, just kidding). Big D has become a common influence among local bands like In the Face (Lowell, Massachusetts), Bomb the Music Industry! (Long Island, New York), Chase Long Beach (Long Beach, California) and the Flatliners (Canada). Big D are preparing for the Frostbite Tour and will headline the annual Ska Weekend 2006 in Knoxville, TN. Seeing them three times, I highly recommend catching them on tour.