General Rudie - Cooling The Mark (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

General Rudie

Cooling The Mark (2002)


I appreciate music more when I see its affect in a social setting. I recently took in two shows at the Trasheteria in Guelph, one with the Slackers and the other with The Planet Smashers. Prior to the headlining sets, the DJ had General Rudie's "Cooling The Mark" playing. If the amount of people dancing to the background music was any indication, this record seems to have been receipted quite well.

General Rudie is a ska band that steers clear of any punk or metal indulgences. They have far more in common with the Slackers or Hepcat than they do any of the third wave acts that flirted with the mainstream in the late nineties. There's a very satisfying 2-tone feel to "Cooling The Mark" that I haven't heard from a newer band in some time.

There's a good mix of pop-based danceable tunes like the infectious "So Much" or "Mirella" alongside jazz based jams like "Sunday Drive." General Rudie has a lot in common with the Specials in that they're fairly straightforward with their ska sound; they're not as dense with R&B influences as the Slackers nor are they as steeped in motown-worship as the Pietasters. Phil Dixon was born to do lead vocals in a band like this. He shows just the right amount of swagger and attitude to pull it off, closer in style to Vic Ruggiero than King Django or someone with more a more Jamaican style.

There's something sparse and clean about the band's sound. Stomp could have billed this band as "distilled-ska" because, despite some well-placed jazz flourishes, General Rudie stay close to the roots of the genre. Even though tracks like "The Gig Is Up" could have come from Toots and the Maytals the band never seems dated.

With the lack of interest in ska music in general it's great to see a new band with no ambitions for "crossover success" or pressure to cater to anyone but admitted fans of the style. Those of you who dig the Slackers, Skatalites or the Stubborn Allstars need to pick this up.