Back To The Future: Ska Selecters Who Beat The English Beat

This Sunday, Valentine's Day if you nasty, Warehouse Live gets a two-tone shot of ska history when the English Beat and Fishbone hit the stage. The two bands tour together quite a bit and have become the sort of elder ambassadors of the genre while bands like the Specials mull over extensive touring plans.

The English Beat is best known for the tracks "Mirror In The Bathroom" and "Save It For Later." Both songs are heavily trafficked on various '80s compilations, so you no doubt at least own a track or two from the Beat, as they are known in England. The band is buoyed by leader Dave Wakeling, who worked with General Public after the Beat's first break-up in 1983. If you ever see Reverberation DJ and local garage maven Jason Puffer around town, ask to see the Rude Girl tattoo on his arm. It's from one the Beat's album covers.

Fishbone never really went away, and with a lead singer like Angelo Moore, it would be nearly impossible. He also runs by the name of Dr. Madd Vibe, and for awhile you could see him touring the country in the early '00s with Neville Staples. This included a peculiar Friday-night gig at Fitzgerald's and something involving a chair. The band was on the forefront of the early-'80s punk scene in Southern California, helping birth fellow funk-punkers the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction. The self-processed "disparate, all-black oddball crew" has been jamming since 1979. The above 1985 video scared the ever-loving shit out of us when we were little.

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In order to get bands like The English Beat and Fishbone there had to be groundbreakers. Ska began in the '50s in Jamaica and grew out of its precursor, the folkier mento style. Out of early ska came rocksteady which then evolved into reggae and eventually white-boy dreadlocks. There have been three waves of ska: first, second and third. The bands you are about to see are first-wavers.

The Specials and the Selecter are very much second-wavers, coming in the late '70s. You can lump groups like The Toasters, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and actually early No Doubt as third-wavers. Ska-punk, on the other hand, is something that mildly infuriates us and will only lead to tears. There is a fourth wave stirring now, with bands like Chase Long Beach and local kids The Failed Attempt just a few shining examples.

Here are five artists that made Sunday's bill possible, in no uncertain influential order. Ok, we lied. This actually our top five favorite first-wave ska bands list from 2001 that we made in Mrs. Lowe's Government 2 class. Get your creepers on and get to skankin', Rudie!

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