Musical Fizz-Bombs Re-imagined as Electro-Ska.
When I review albums I try to imagine who will buy the album, why and what will they think.
Using this formula had I been scanning through the racks of a record shop looking for something new, interesting and/or exciting; I most certainly would have picked this out of the Ska racks; as I fondly remember Zen Baseballbat from their days on the Moon Ska label too many years ago to mention.
Now, if I hadn’t asked the shop assistant to play a couple of tracks; and why would I? I would have been not just shocked when Track #1 Whipping The Lash bounced out of the car speakers; but confused too.
Not just not how I remember them; but NOT Ska in my humble opinion!
Thankfully, I’m doing this for review purposes and have stuck with the album for a week now ….. and …… and …… I’ve got my head around these ‘re-mixed’ and ‘re-imagined’ songs from their back catalogue.
Before we go any further we must remember that Ska came out of a number of different musical genres and has been an ever evolving feast ever since; so as long as there’s a Heavy, Heavy Bass line ….. it’s Ska … OK!
This version of Whipping The Lash owes more to Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode than it does Rico or The Specials; but don’t be afraid …… it’s a real humdinger of a dance tune.
Next up, Captain Midnight has more of a traditional Ska sound to it; but with that Electro-Pop backbeat and a Bass Line that feels like an Anthony Joshua punch to the ribs.
If you’ve stuck in this far, you are in for some real unholy treats; Brown Cows of Elocution is a veritable modern Dub sensation and The Returner Prize totally dancetastic; which is what this is all about first and foremost; but listen to the lyrics and you your head will spin at the ‘piss n vinegar’ observations that haven’t changed in nigh on twenty years.
Speaking of the songwriting; Signed Off R Mutt and the funklicious Masochistic Motown are both up there with the best of Madness and late period Specials; IMHO.
For my Favourite Track it’s becoming a coin toss between Matching Houses; another song that sadly hasn’t dated even though I wish the back story wasn’t still relevent in 2021; and a Love Song with strings that wouldn’t be out of place on a Buddy Holly record; The Injection of Love (Is Wearing Off); and I’m erring on the side of the latter as perhaps, it’s easier on the ear ……. but listen carefully and there’s a dark thread in this tale too.
With nothing to lose after all these years; this is still a very brave album for Zen Baseballbat to release; as it sounds nothing like anything they or their peers have ever released before; and for that I applaud them ……. and think they may even win a horde of new younger fans; especially across Europe.
Zen Baseballbat are the Gleavey twins, Jordan Donaldson, Mike Wilkinson, Jogga, Anoushka Gleavey, Jane Anderson, Colin Mackay.
Released January 08th 2021
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