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The Story of Ska-Punk, a Love Story

The Intermixing of Ska Music with Punk Rock

Ska and punk go together better than Sid and Nancy. Poor taste? Anywho. The marriage of these two genres created one of the most popular fusions in music history. That easy beat, killer brass section, and speed of punk make any individual wanna pogo with like-minded individuals. A sound that can both preach revolution and speak to the heart of every surf-lovin’ fool aiming for a good time.

Ska formed in Jamaica during the late 1950s as a way to mimic American R&B. Lyrics about fighting the ruling system and revolution, much like the ethos of punk rock, can be found within the first songs of ska, especially by 1962 when Jamaica gained its independence from Great Britain. The staple sound formed to be ska during these early years comes from the brass section and beat, a beat that is similar to reggae and emphasizes the second and fourth beats in a regular 4/4 time.

Love at first sight, punk would find ska once immigrants brought the sounds to England in the late 1970s, influencing bands like The Clash. Take a listen to “Wrong ’Em Boyo” from their London Calling album, and you will hear the brass section attributed to ska influence. Notable bands that also fused the sounds of ska with the pace of punk at this time would be The SpecialsThe Beats, and Madness. The blending of the genres would continue as ska and punk bands begin to perform on the same night opening the door to a marriage that was obvious thanks to those in the crowd diggin’ the tunes.

By the 80s to early 90s, bands playing ska-punk would be prominent underground. The fusion of genres would remain underground in the 80s, building steam until its pinnacle (as far as the mainstream is concerned) in the 90s. The most notable bands that helped build ska-punk to its ultimate height throughout its early decades would be Reel Big Fish, Fishbone, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, Sublime, NOFX, and Operation Ivy.

JER, the Interrupters, and The Aquabats! have dropped albums in recent years worth your ears that carry on the revolutionary sounds of ska-punk. For a mix of both new and old, I offer the playlist below. 14 songs, and each is considered to be ska-punk. Enjoy, swine.

SKA-PUNK SONGS TO START WITH:

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