On Phoenix City All-Stars‘ debut album Two Tone Gone Ska they did blazing ska versions of material by The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat and Madness. Now they have another cover album out, but this time they have taken on a giant of rock music – Rolling Stones.
Phoenix City All-Stars are far from newcomers and they know their ska and their Rolling Stones. The band comprises members of Pama International, The Sidewalk Doctors, Kasabian, Intensified, Dub Vendor All-Stars, The Loafers, Big Boss Man, The Bongolian and The Delegators. On vocals they are also supported by the deejay Oxman and the singer Freddie Notes, known for the smooth Montego Bay released in 1970.
Skatisfaction collects ten tracks, including hits and lesser known tracks from the mighty Rolling Stones vaults. Phoenix City All-Stars have treated them with respect and revitalized them in scorching ska and rocksteady versions.
And these frantic and storming cuts hold up well against the popular originals, especially the instrumental cut to Under My Thumb, where a haunting organ provides the original vocal line, and the honeyed Sweet Virgina, also an instrumental, and with a smooth saxophone replacing the singing.
This album has loads of raw attitude and collects driving ska and killer early reggae. Rolling Stones should be satisfied with such a well-crafted tribute set.
2 tone, or two tone, is one of the reggae genres created in the UK in the 70’s. It’s closely tied to the short-lived label of the same name, and fuses the energy of ska and the attitude of punk rock with melodies from rocksteady and new wave.
The most well-known band of the genre is The Specials, who has had a number of big hits, including Rudy, A Message to You, Ghost Town and Too Much Too Young. There were of course other bands as well – The Selecter, The Beat and Madness certainly had their fair share of smash hits as well.
I guess the genre is still alive, but it doesn’t get much attention these days. But Phoenix City All-Stars – with an all-star cast including Sean Flowerdew from Pama International, Dave Barker from Dave & Ansell Collins and AJ Franklin from The Federals and The Chosen Few – has decided to pay tribute to the genre by going back to its roots.
Two Tone Gone Ska is an eight track celebration to one of Britain’s most iconic labels. And as a celebration Phoenix City All-Stars have taken some of 2 tone’s best and most well-known tracks and replanted them in a loud, sweaty and dirty club in Kingston, Jamaica, in the 60’s. The result is blazing ska in an authentic Skatalites style spiced with sweet rocksteady melodies.
2 Tone’s debt to the musical heritage of Jamaica is vast, and this album sheds light on the genre’s main influencers, but at the same time presents the songs in a brand new way.
Two Tone Gone Ska is now available on CD, digital download and LP, only 250 numbered copies though.