The Toasters - In Retrospect (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Toasters

In Retrospect (2003)


More than anything else, this compilation can be described as simply "necessary." The longest running ska band in the US has been increasingly absent from record stores since Moon Ska went under. In Retrospect remedies that, collecting 21 of the band's choice material from 1985's Recriminations EP to 2002's Enemy Of The System. Of course that leaves little room for anything other than the most obvious choices, but having all this material in one place is a huge plus.

Of course some of the band's best known singles show up here, including "East Side Beat," "Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down" and "New York Fever." The Toasters have revisited many songs throughout their career, so the versions of some tracks included here will be cause for debate amongst their fans. This is especially true with a pair of re-makes form 1987's Skaboom. "Talk Is Cheap" is the Hard Band for Dead version while "Weekend In L.A." is the recording from 1997's Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down. It's interesting to note that regardless of trends the Toaster's history is quite consistent. There is little differences in style between 85's "Razor Cut" which came on the heels of the UK 2-Tone scene and "2-Tone Army" from the height of the mainstream's obsession with 3rd wave revival. This solid direction adds the flow of In Retrospect.

This is a very listenable "best of" as the tracks have been appropriately sequenced and aren't simply left in chronological order. Despite the 18-year span in which the original records were recorded there's no obvious jumps in production or mixing from song to song. I'm convinced that to a Toasters-novice not familiar with the band's past, this album could play though without them ever realizing it's collection.

There isn't really a lot to say about the Toaster's In Retrospect. It's a faithful representation of the history of one of the most important American ska bands ever. There's no better introduction to the Toasters than this.