Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Album Review: What Do You Know About Ska Punk Vol. 1 (by Dan Peters)

A Tidal Wave of Trumpets!!

“Dan you like ska punk don't you?” were the fateful words I heard just before diving into the gargantuan compilation that is ‘What Do You Know About Ska Punk Vol 1’. At a staggering 135 tracks it is without a doubt the biggest compilation you’re likely to find outside of ‘Now That’s What I Call Disney”, which still has less and a bonus disk full of total shit, but I digress…

What Do You Know About Ska Punk is a pretty daunting prospect to review and I’m certainly not going to go through every song individually because I’m writing a review and not a new testament. The things I worried about before I started were as follows:

  • Will so many tracks make the quality of songs suffer?
  • Will having so many artists involved affect the record sound?
  • Will I go insane trying to listen to so much Ska Punk in one go?

With these points firmly in mind I delved in and after a brief introductory paragraph I’ll attempt to answer them.

WDYKASP looks a little like a Be Sharp promotions annual gig listing with some notable bands I was extremely happy to see on the line up, like Beng Beng Cocktail, Jake and the Jellyfish, Faintest Idea and – nestled right down the bottom – my favourite ska newcomers, Just Say Nay. That’s such a tiny selection, it’s unreal though but I’ll say this: If you’re a ska punk fan or have been to a show in the last year or even just walked past a poster for a ska show one time, you’ll probably find a good few names you recognise here. As tempting as it was to skip to the names I knew, I enjoyed swimming through new material to me in order to rest in familiar ground.

So, song quality then. I think with this many tracks you’re never going to love everything but by god did I get along with everything. Real standouts are never far away and new favourites crop up anywhere you care to look. You can be listening to The Pisdicables and then 5 minutes later you’re cracking up at MC Lars, or getting your groove on to Lead Shot Hazard and before you know it Stuck Lucky are your favourite band! We all have our favourite styles and groups but having so much here in one spot actively encouraged me to try out the unknown and leave the skip button alone. So that’s pretty awesome.

Sound quality is up next. There are some pretty big gaps in the recording of some songs but on average everything sounds pretty even - you’re not often desperately trying to save your ears because the song before is half the volume of the one just starting, which again is very impressive for a compilation created on such a ridiculously big scale. It’s maybe the biggest shame that a couple of great songs sound like they’re played underwater compared to the highest level bands but it’s not really a deal breaker and again this sort of thing is in the minority for the most part.

Which brings us to my sanity! Did it do my head in? A little, yeah. To answer the question at the very beginning of this article, I do like Ska Punk but would consider myself a journeyman rather than a master. I’ve seen a giant amount of ska bands live but my album collection at home doesn’t extend too far beyond Hello Rockview, Hang Ups and Civil Disobediants. Although I enjoyed the large majority of WDYKASP and it just can’t be stated just how amazing this is in terms of value. 135 tracks for $7 (or £25 post-Brexit sterling). That’s the sort of deal that would make DFS shit their pants so if you even have a passing affection for trumpet punk this is gonna be worth your while.

Stream and download the compilation here: https://whatdoyouknowaboutskapunk.bandcamp.com/album/what-do-you-know-about-ska-punk-vol-1

Like What Do You Know About Ska Punk? here: https://www.facebook.com/whatdoyouknowaboutskapunk/