Archive for the ‘ska’ Tag

[50/50] Album #38: “…All The Rage”

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Album #38: “…All the Rage” — General Public (1984)

Ska, again.

In the fall of 1984, I was living on the North Side of Pittsburgh with seven other art students. We’d collectively decided to take advantage of an exchange program our university had set up with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where we could focus on graphic design for a year and still get a degree in fine art. Essentially we swapped IUP for AIP. Still one of the best trades I ever made.

The whole adventure peaked the next spring with our infamous trip to New York City: two busloads of students, ostensibly there to see the MOMA, were unleashed in an old hotel off Times Square with nary an adult in sight. It was as riotously chaotic as it sounds, and qualifies as an epic road trip by sheer dint of the fact that, by the time we got back, I was headed to the hospital for emergency surgery and had a new girlfriend.

150px-I.R.S._Records_logo.svgDuring a party that weekend, I met Cayce, an artist who had rechristened herself with that name after reading the dream theories of Edgar Cayce. Yeah, she was that kind of girl: slightly mystic, slightly crazy, very intense, and a lot of fun. The next day when I saw her on the other bus, I grabbed a flower from a street vendor, raced up the aisle of the bus and gave it to her without another word. We were together for the next six months. Cayce was a quintessential new wave chick, loved Martha and the Muffins and anything from I.R.S.*, most especially General Public. She would play “…All the Rage” over and over as we laid in her bedroom.

Formed from the ashes of The English Beat, The Clash, and one-hit wonder Dexy’s Midnight Runners, General Public was more than the sum of its parts (especially Ranking Roger’s hair). Beyond any nostalgic value it holds for me, “…All the Rage” holds up as simply a great album, alternating between the political and party music, with a couple of great songs about relationships to boot. Go, go.

*Actually, come to think of it, you’re going to find a lot of acts from I.R.S. in this countdown

[50/50] Song #38: “Save It For Later”

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Special_Beat_ServiceSong #38: “Save It for Later” — The English Beat (1982)

It was during that first week in college — when you first move into the dorm and seemingly make a new friend every five minutes — that I met a girl named Marty. She too was a PK, and I thought her roommate Cindy was particularly cute. One night we went down the checklist of freshman cliches: trading life stories as we sat on the dorm floor, making popcorn and checking each other out. I asked Marty what music she liked, and she replied “Ska.” I pretended to know what she was talking about.

Of course I’d already been listening to ska for years, even if I didn’t know the genre had a name. Thanks to The Clash, Madness and The English Beat (or just The Beat, if you’re a purist), everyone was swimming in it. Ironically, The English Beat only stood out for me after they broke up and became General Public and Fine Young Cannibals, and it was just a few years ago I realized I still didn’t have a copy of their last, best album “Special Beat Service.”

Like Modern English’s “I Melt with You,” “Save It For Later” wasn’t a big hit when released, and yet thanks to covers and movie soundtracks, it’s cache has only grown over time. It randomly popped back into my life a few years ago and steadily climbed up my list of favorites. For the first time I really listened to the lyrics — they’re about relationships, right? —and its themes of loyalty, indecision and fatigue ensures it will only get more popular with me as I get older.

Plus, there’s a sax and the video is a riot.