Various - Ska Mania
For many of us the word Ska equates to 2Tone records; drop the metaphorical needle on the first of these 57 (count ‘em) tracks and the tribal drums of Too Much Too young transport you back to a time of Walt Jabsco inscribed satchels, Harrington jackets, bloody noses and special brew hangovers. Sure Ska also refers to the sounds of ‘60s Jamaica (represented here) and 1990s skate-punk (not represented here) but this compilation is in the shops to cash in on the 2Tone re-re-revival. And as far as I’m concerned – who needs an excuse to jump on the last train to skaville? Bring it on.
An instant party on two discs then? Well, if I’m honest, there’s a fair degree of variable quality on show here with genuine grade 'A' material like The Valentines’ Blam Blam Fever and Prince Buster’s Whine and Grine sharing house room with Bad Manners and the Pirhanas. Notwithstanding this, Ska Mania provides a timely reminder of how great even the ‘lesser’ bands of the day like The Beat and Selecter could be, given the right prevailing wind, but, for most of us, there’s a bit too much filler and not enough of the real classic material. With a new Specials compilation in the racks and Trojan Ska boxsets available for pocket money prices this album may prove to have a limited market for all but the most casually interested ska fans. Essentially inessential; it's good but it could have been so much better. Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be.