Last Chance Bordello
F&J Records ShaG035CD
Trad Ska With a Modern Urban Twist (and Shout).
I first discovered the joys of Ska and Bluebeat via Madness and the Specials; who were Top of the Hit Parade in the late 1970’s and 80’s. Because of them I delved deep into the history of Ska and discovered Prince Buster, The Skatalites and of course, all things Trojan.
As a long term fan of the ‘Meanies I’m pretty sure they had a similar journey and this, their third album in 18 years showcases just such a lineage; all made with class and love.
I was a tad worried that the gang had gone All-American Ska-Punk when I heard the opening chords of Gut Punch which kick starts the album; but after 30 seconds it was back to good old-fashioned danceable Ska with the foxlicious Jane Chalmers proving she is still the finest female voice in the genre.
Next out of the traps is the bittersweet foot-stomper The Wrong One; which showcases the bands musical attributes from start to finish; and again Jane takes it into a whole new stratosphere, worthy of Top of the Pops were it still going.
I love John ‘Clark’ Disco’s choppy guitar intro to Nothing’s OK and when the band come in swinging their instruments it felt like a scene from The Warriors and I found myself ducking for cover. It’s a real belter of a song btw.
Their collective love of Trad Ska gets an outing on the (all but) instrumental Horses For Courses; but when the lads chant the title in their Glaswegian accent; it takes on a whole new meaning, that made me giggle.
I’m not sure what it’s actually about; but my absolutely favourite track is House on the Hill; which even features a cracking bit of Toasting in the middle. What’s not to like about a song that fears the Cockney takeover of the North? 10/10
Be Yourself with Stan Millar taking over lead vocals, has a cool classic dance groove to it; but that just masks a dark tale that many of us listening will sympathise with; in the way we did with Bed and Breakfast Man and Embarrassment by Madness.
Stan closes the show with their take on getting old and everything being ‘bad for you’ – No Fun Tomorrow; but the last verse just may have a little twist in the tail #wink.
For me British Ska; of which the Amphetameanies are the current Heavyweight champions, is all about having a laugh, a drink and a dance; but don’t think for a moment that this ever gets close to being sloppy; these guys are all utter professionals and the sound they create is pure, dead glorious.
Released November 2014