The Skatalites
Foundation Ska



by Zebra USER (177 Reviews)
November 13th, 2005 | 9 replies

Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

<p>The Skatalites are one of the best, if not the best ska band of all time. I'm not sure what the release date of this album is, but I think it was released in the mid or late 60's. The Skatalites consists of 14 members. That is not a typo, some members featured are Roland Alphonso, one of the greatest tenor sax players I've ever heard on a ska record. The Skatalites head man is Tommy McCook, he may be more noticed for his solo work but I think he is equally as great on this album. If you are a fan of reggae or ska <i>Foundation Ska</i> is an essential album. </p><p>If you enjoy ska bands such as Reel Big Fish, and Catch 22 that is fine, but this album is nothing like that. The Skatalites play reggae, or 1st wave ska. This music is mellow, upbeat, happy, and fun. There is absolutely no punk involved in this music. This album consists of many trumpets, saxophones, and other brass instruments. Keyboards, drums, a piano and a guitar are also featured. The Skatalites blend these instruments together to create beautiful ska music. The Skatalites combine ska and reggae with slight elements of jazz, swing, and mellow melodies. The brass instruments shine in <i>Foundation Ska</i>. The saxophone solos appear in just about every song. While the saxophone takes the solo it is textured by a soft guitar riff, soft trumpet lines, and some flutes. This music is easy going and mellow, this is very relaxing. Most of these songs follow the same line, but the Skatalites keep things from getting old. If you listen closely you will hear keyboard effects and drum beats to keep the rythm covered with saxophones, flutes, tubas, and trumpets. <i>Foundation Ska</i> is a very jazzy album. The brass instruments have a very jazzy feel while the melodies and rythms are swing influenced. The music presented here is very mellow and easy going. You could easily doze off when listening to this. The Skatalites avoid rocking out, they always keep things cool, mellow, and fun. The Skatalites keep things simple, but if you listen in closely there is a lot going on.</p><p><i>Foundation Ska</i> is strictly an instrumental album. These songs range mostly from two and a half to three and a half minutes long, so things never get boring. There are 27 instrumentals on this album and only five vocal tracks. Although this sounds incredibly boring the instrumentals are just as good as the vocal tracks. Women vocals are presented on most of the vocal tracks. They are very soothing and smooth, they sound like there coming from an old 30's movie. There are only five vocal tracks, so if you don't like instrumentals don't come near this. While there are very few flaws, this may be hard to get into. The songs will sound the same at first, but after four of five listens you will be able to tell these songs apart. This album works so well because you can use this as music to chill out or relax too or if you really pay attention you will be amazed at how much is going on in every one of these songs. &quot;Foundation Ska&quot; is a perfect way to get introduced into reggae or 1st wave ska. None of these tracks are bad, and Roland's tenor sax is amazing, along with Dizzy Moore's incredible trumpet work. The brass section is simply flawless making The Skatalites &quot;Foundation Ska&quot; an instant classic. </p><p>Overall I beleive that this is a classic ska album. <i>Foundation Ska</i> is a double disc, and it features 32 songs that either started as b-sides, or were never really put on a record. The Skatalites play reggae of ska music combing elements of jazz, swing, soul, and even some blues into there music. The brass section is without a doubt a huge highlight, there are simply no flaws at all. The backing instruments such as the drums, a piano, and organs fill the sound up with excellence. The Skatalites are definately very talented musicians, there are no mistakes and every is conducted with pure efficiancy. Once again, the Skatalites are not like Reel Big Fish or Less Than Jake, this music has a huge reggae influence and the sound is a lot more mellow and relaxed. This is were it all started, The Skatalites are simply amazing. This is one of the best reggae or ska albums of all time. <i>Foundation Ska</i> features an amazing brass section along with fantastic backing instruments. If you are a reggae or ska fan this album is simply essential.</p><p>Overall Rating : 5/5</p><p>Pros : Catchy Songs // Brass Instruments // Mellow and Smooth // Elements of Swing, Soul, and Jazz</p><p>Cons: 27 Instrumentals out of 32 tracks</p><p>Recommended Tracks :</p><p><i>Eastern Standard Time</i> // <i>The Vow</i> // <i>Nimrod</i> //<i> Simmer Down</i> <br /> </p>

Recent reviews by this author
The Dead C Secret EarthJohn Coltrane Lush Life
Crystal Castles Crystal CastlesUlaan Khol I
Four Tet RingerHarmonia Musik von Harmonia
user ratings (19)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 13th 2005


Another great review. I don't know if I could get into reggae, although I used to have dreads. Maybe I'll just chill out now with a fatty...

November 14th 2005


If you listen to the Skatalites and you can't get into reggae, or ska then I don't know what to tell you.

Impressive, I wish I had dreads.

April 5th 2006


ive listened to these guys a bit, but never really bought a cd. Now i need to go buy this.This Message Edited On 04.05.06

May 8th 2006


great review...if you are 2nd best...who could possibly be 1st?

October 7th 2006


I respect these guys, but I just don't like their music.

The Jungler
October 7th 2006


What happened to all your older reviews Zebra?

pedro durruti
October 18th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

This album is really great- I've got it at home but I'm not sure, is it a 'greatest hits', or just a big cd?

Good review for the most part, you described the music well, gave a brief history, but there a couple things wrong. The Skatalites are not reggae, this must not be confused. Well, I think they might have some reggae songs out there, and maybe a reggae album (I mean they have been around for about forty years), but they are only a ska band. There is a big difference between the two, notice how often they use horns, and how fast the music is compared to, let's say, in a Bob Marley song. That, and you are redudant in saying how relaxing it is... well yeah, it's ska!

October 22nd 2006


Just to be clear, the Skatalites were the original, official Ska band. Reggae wasn't even concieved yet when they began their work as a backing band at Studio One. Reggae, was a granchild of Ska. Rocksteady and Lovers Rock also came before Reggae.
The women singing is Dorreen Shaffer (and the wacky Marguerita, Don Drummond's gal pal whom he went on to stab to death, on Woman a Come) Although many musicians contributed to the Skatalites, they never had 14 members at once.

Skankin Richard
August 17th 2008


I love that ska! Keep on skankin!

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2020
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy