Ska-Punk Essentials

Ska-Punk Essentials

Ska’s evolution is measured in waves. After originating in Jamaica during the ’50s—and influencing the development of reggae—the genre experienced an early-’80s second wave closely aligned with politically minded 2 Tone bands. When ska’s third wave surfaced in the U.S. during the mid-’90s, what emerged was something totally different: a largely apolitical movement combining the brawny riffs and speedy tempos of underground punk with flashy horns and syncopated rhythms. Accordingly, this wave was distinguished by lighter touches, such as earnest ’80s covers (most notably Save Ferris’ strident take on Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen”) and cheeky lyrical references to debauchery. Yet despite this carefree veneer, ska-punk’s anchor bands—The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, No Doubt, and Reel Big Fish—exhibited serious musical chops and live panache that made the genre a natural fit in the anything-goes ’90s alternative boom.

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