Saxophonist Lee Thompson and bass player Mark Bedford, two founding members of Madness, have a new band together – The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra. The project started out a few years ago with a few gigs and it worked out so well that the band decided to record an album together with the always reliable vintage-sounding producer Mike Pelanconi aka Prince Fatty.
This twelve track ska and reggae album collects only covers and mixes instrumentals with vocal versions. Its title – The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius – is a nod and a tribute to Sister Mary Ignatius, who played a vital role in the development of ska and reggae as head of the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, Jamaica, in the early 60s.
The album is rocking and swinging and includes covers of immortal tunes by John Holt (Ali Baba) and Don Drummond (Eastern Standard Time) alongside ska versions of Lalo Schifrin’s Mission Impossible theme, Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider and Fats Domino’s Hello Josephine. The standout tune is however Desmond Dekker’s Fu Man Chu with guest vocalist Bitty McLean.
This is old school ska at its best. Prepare yourself for some good time stomping – knees up, arms rocking sideways and a huge smile on your face.