Let's Go Bowling - Freeway Lanes (Cover Artwork)

Let's Go Bowling

Freeway Lanes (1998)

Asian Man

Here's an edited version of a review I put up for one of my favourite ska records of the '90s on Social Interview, a mercilessly crap facebook application. I hope it will convince some of you (or at the very least, the gimper) to buy this amazing record.

Let's Go Bowling are one of the best ska bands ever. I get to say "are" because they have started playing together again, doing live shows around California. This is a great thing, because this album proves they are incredible as a live band.

Having already played trad ska and 2 Tone fused with rock'n'roll and much more since the '80s, around this point (the mid-to-late '90s) they dragged in more influences of dub and jazz, giving their instrumentals a loose, cool feel (their version of the Skatalites' "Man in the Street" got me into jazz). Very cool to listen to, it's also great to dance to. This is not a completely relaxed album, however. Some of the old songs from studio albums, as well as covers of other American ska and mod bands (like the Untouchables), and some new songs are instead delivered with high energy and swingin' style, as well as crazy humour ("Bitch" is a good example, and also has the best climax in musical history. Yeah, fuck classical).

So you dance madly to "Bitch" (there's a typical English phrase) and when it comes down from its insane high, we hear someone ask, "Where are the midgets? We need some midgets up here." Before you have a chance to say, "What the fuck?" a smooth piece of dubby ska-jazz called "The Reburial of Marcus Garvey" comes on, at odds with the previous track's frantic 2 tone, but still natural feeling and, of course, highly listenable.

The musicianship is excellent too. For example, Darren Fletcher handles insane, baseball stadium-style organ, smooth jazzy piano and raucous harmonica; and the horn section draw on Parker, Coltrane, Coleman and Davis for their variously swinging, cool, or abrasive soloing.

As a ska fan, I couldn't take this out of my CD player for ages (except to listen to it somewhere else), so obviously any ska fan will like this. Even though I like ska-punk, it's a goddamn shame they went that way. Although fortunately, only for a while.