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Music. Culture. Exclaim!



100 Records That Rocked 100 Issues of Exclaim!


October 30, 2000


“You’ve gotta check this out,” is the music fan’s rallying cry, the primal need to share a sonic experience. When Exclaim! was started back in 1991, the impetus was the same. A couple of college/community radio programmers thinking that there’s too much great music going unheard. From the very beginning each contributor provided a unique perspective — their passion for music being paramount. Now, 100 issues later, we’ve succumbed to a collector’s love of lists, and the result will be an endless source of discussion and debate of omissions and additions.

We all threw our record collections into the ring, but to sift through the anarchy, there were some rules: albums released between our first issue, March 1992, and the present; reissues, compilations, singles and EPs were disqualified for expediency’s sake, and the free-for-all began. Was there consensus? Almost none. But for musical, personal, influential reasons, these were the records that excited us, made us leap and listen, demanding others do the same. This list is a reflection of our diverse, often conflicting interests in new sounds. They’re not the best-selling, nor the best known; they are, from our unique perspective, 100 records you shouldn’t live without. If you missed these albums the first time around, this is our chance to say “you’ve gotta check this out.”





The Adjusters Before the Revolution (Moon Ska ’98)
The Adjusters were always a complex band with great sensibilities, but they finally peaked with Before the Revolution. This wicked combo of ska, funk, soul, R&B and attitude is the complete package for any ska/mod fan. From catchy to heart-wrenchingly soulful, this disc never ceases to amaze me. –SV





Air Moon Safari (Caroline ‘98)
Into the potentially cheesy realms of cinematic Euro-pop Air bravely dove — and boy, did they ever succeed. From the soundtrack-y groove of "La Femme D'Argent," to the faux ‘70s, ELO/Alan Parsons-drenched pop of "Sexy Boy" and "Kelly, Watch The Stars," Moon Safari is a name-dropping critic's wet dream. But to the public that snatched it up, this disc was quite simply the best album to have sex to in years. Only the French could have pulled this one off. -CR





Tony Allen Black Voices (Comet ‘99)
Greater than the sum of its parts. Allen was Fela's most celebrated drummer, and producer Doctor L has done good work in Paris, but Black Voices ended up one of the best combinations of live playing and sampling yet realised in any genre. The two principals conjure a jazzy, dubby brew far beyond Afrobeat's origins. This is "urban" music in the best sense. -DD





Apples In Stereo Tone Soul Evolution (SpinArt ‘97)
The headmasters at Elephant 6 school showed pop students the answers with Tone Soul Evolution. After their notable debut, the Apples focused their song structures and sound to produce a brilliant 14-song album that jingles and jangles effortlessly. Robert Schneider is at his best here in wordplay and melodies, sounding sweet like Paul and rowdy like John. Pop fans all over were relieved to finally hear the coda to Revolver-era Beatles Wild Honey-like Beach Boys. A marvelous trip that the Apples may never replicate again. -JB





A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders (Jive ‘93)
Devoted to the art of moving butts and minds, Q-Tip, Phife and Ali reached sublime heights on their third effort. The deft blending of shrewd social commentary into the abstract poetics and playful banter, couched in the blissful realisation of their sophisticated jazz-inflected blueprints, unwittingly set de facto hip-hop standards. -DFC





Basement Jaxx Remedy (XL ‘99)
While there’s no end to the number of great house records in the ‘90s, Remedy is the first to fully deliver an album-length impression of the scene and its British sensibility in particular. From the ragga-garage fever of “Jump N’ Shout” to the salsa-stomp of “Bingo Bango,” the Jaxx certainly provide dance floor destruction. But ultimately it’s the One Nation Under A Groove update in “Red Alert,” addictive with its lyrics of Y2K relief, that put the mania in perspective. Admittedly, the abrasive production doesn’t make it the easiest album to listen to, but it definitely remains as one of the most innovative of 1999. -PB





Beck Odelay (DGC ’96)
Could anyone have foreseen Beck becoming the most important artist in the last half of the ‘90s? That may be debatable, but he got my vote after this album. With its combination of blues, country, jazz, garage punk, hip-hop, and sampling, it will stand as the most complete combination of 20th century Western musics that anyone has ever attempted. When “Loser” first appeared, it admittedly seemed like a cruel joke, but this album proved that Beck’s art is more complex than most of us can grasp. Just ask Kid Rock. –JS





Belle & Sebastian If You’re Feeling Sinister (Matador ’96)
By the time I finally heard Belle And Sebastian, about ten friends had been imploring me to listen to them for months. I think I let the album play in its entirety four times before I moved from my seat. Not since the glory days of the Smiths had there been a band who combined memorable tunes and witty lyrics so wonderfully. And, for the most part, Belle & Sebastian are a band who have been getting better and better with every subsequent release. But nothing compares with that joyful memory of hearing them for the first time in all their glorious wistfulness. This is a band that changes lives. –ME





Ben Folds Five Ben Folds Five (Passenger ‘95)
He won our attention for being the first virtuoso pianist front man since Elton John not worthy of our scorn and tomatoes; he won our hearts for being the most keenly insightful smart-ass of a generation comprised of little else. Ben Folds Five cast a kidding, yet sympathetic, eye toward the aging slacker, blinking in the glare of burgeoning adulthood. Old enough to know better but not yet wise enough to change, as seemingly ordinary an act as walking to the beer store alone at dusk gained a beautiful poignancy. Folds would soon write a hit about abortion. -MW





The Beta Band The Three E.P.’s (Astralwerks ‘98)
"I’m now going to sell five copies of the Beta Band," says Rob in High Fidelity. Within seconds of putting on The Three E.P.’s, the patrons in his shop start bobbing their heads, grooving their hips and asking, "Who is this?" The Beta Band are indeed the quintessential example of a band beloved of critics and record store snobs, relying on in-store play and evangelism for their sales. Their eccentric brew of hippie anarchy, classic (folk) rock and the turntablist ethic of serious playfulness is as wobbly as it sounds, but instantly commanding. Truly, madly, deeply wonderful. -CWo





Björk Homogenic (Warner ‘97)
Even if her vocal capabilities were the extent of her talent, Björk would be a mind-blowing artist. As it is, she’s a kaleidoscopic arranger who embodies what it means to live amidst the contradictions of the modern world while straddling ancient traditions — and she does so with a truly open mind and ear, always true to herself first and foremost. Her previous work sounded like eclectic mixed tapes; as the title suggests, this one is her most cohesive album. -MBa





Boards of Canada Music Has the Right to Children (Warp ’98)
By track four, “Telephasic Workshop,” we knew the Boards of Canada were very special; music’s worth can be curiously obvious. They were not genre mavericks, but the mid-tempo hip-hop beats under the most compelling synths ever did more. Samples actually provoked emotional response, in fact, everything about Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin implied a deliberate attempt to nurture the listener, for which we are so thankful. -MBu





Boom Bip & Dose One Circle (Mush ‘00)
1200 Hobos MC Dose One has released four thoroughly solid albums in the last year, but his most recent effort, with Boom Bip on the production, is his best yet. Circle is as much Beat poetry as it is hip-hop; a greater artistic endeavour than the majority of hip-hop releases available in this stagnant market. The beats are superb, with plenty of variety; Dose’s abstract poems are written inside the CD booklet. If there is any justice in this world, Boom Bip & Dose One’s Circle should become a landmark moment in hip hop history. -TQ





Jeff Buckley Live At Sin-E (Sony ’93)
Although only a four song EP, Jeff Buckley's debut caught the attention of enough people to have him play the main stage at Reading barely a year later. A voice with the capacity to emote at once, delicacy and strength, was inspirational. Armed with only his guitar and amp, this live recording would create an underground buzz that would have him filling small clubs across North America. But it was his magnum opus "Eternal Life" that would ironically make his own premature death even more tragic. Easily the most spiritually powerful song of a generation. –SW





Buffalo Tom Let Me Come Over (Beggars Banquet ‘92)
Let Me Come Over established Buffalo Tom as one of the most criminally and inexplicably overlooked bands in the world. Its broad sweep of galloping indie rock and muted ballads was grounded in sparkling melodies, but it may be that the delivery was just so unadorned and impassioned as to sound disconcertingly foreign when arch aloofness and irony ruled alternative aesthetics. In fact, Let Me Come Over may have been more properly a soul album, its raw, emotive power elevating simple lyrics into the stuff of heartbreak and uplift. -CWo





Bunchofuckingoofs Carnival Of Chaos + Carnage (Fringe ’92)
This represents a synopsis of the band's work to date, at roughly the halfway point of their almost two decades of existence. It is a superbly recorded work by a band whom many consider the quintessential Toronto hardcore group. The intricacy of the guitar work on this record is noticeably absent from the Goofs live shows, which still continue undaunted. This brings us to the goof's real strength. Anti-cocaine, anti-heroin, anti-automobile and anti-fascist; the Goofs lead by example. A must have for anyone who believes they're a punk. –RA





Change Of Heart Smile (Cargo ’92)
For me, Canadian rock didn’t exist until I heard this album. Sure, there were bands I thought were great (13 Engines, Cowboy Junkies, Grapes Of Wrath), but Change of Heart made a deeper connection. Maybe it was the communal spirit at the heart of this record, or the fact that they were able to pull it together at all during those four long days at Reaction Studios. Maybe it was the big ideas combined with the new big sound. Or maybe it’s because rock and roll just didn’t get any better. -JS





Common Sense Resurrection (Ruthless ‘94)
Although now known as Common, a rare infectious verve permeated this Chicago MC’s sophomore effort. Over deliciously jazzy loops, Common’s dazzling wordplay, wit and exuberance induced multiple rewinds and respect for Windy City hip-hop. Refreshingly self -deprecating, his ongoing wrestling with responsibility emerged on the consummate "I Used To Love H.E.R." -DFC





Company Flow Funcrusher Plus (Rawkus ‘97)
Company Flow’s debut full-length, Funcrusher Plus, is full of Mr Len and El-P’s chunky off-center beats and plenty of intellectual lyrical flexing. Whether El-P and Bigg Jus are tearing up the microphone with plenty of braggadocio (“The Fire In Which You Burn”) or telling tales of sorrow (“Last Good Sleep”), Funcrusher Plus is a fantastic album that requires many rewinds and no fast forwards. It is also the album that first put Rawkus Records on the hip-hop map. -TQ





Converge When Forever Comes Crashing (Equal Vision ‘98)
Establishing themselves in the underground with their previous releases (Caring and Killing and Petitioning The Empty Sky) it wasn’t until When Forever Comes Crashing that Converge captured the true intensity of their sonic killing spree and released their definitive album. With the production/engineering assistance of Steve Austin (Today Is The Day) and a young Steven Brodsky (Cave In) on bass, this combines the hardcore/metallic assaults of previous releases with a noisier, experimental slant and contrasting introspective moments that helped spawn the current noise/hardcore movement and still stands as one of its landmark albums. -CG





De La Soul Buhloone Mind State (Tommy Boy ‘93)
After declaring themselves dead on their previous record, hip-hop's smartest crew returned with a record that stunned even their most adventurous fans. Driven by a pathological fear of blowing up, De La Soul came up with an outsider rap classic, blending the playfulness of 3 Feet High & Rising with the raw bitterness of De La Soul Is Dead. Putting a Maceo Parker instrumental next to a pair of Japanese MCs was a stroke of genius, while “I Am I Be” remains the most honest cut in hip-hop history. -MG





Destroyer Thief (Scratch ‘99)
This criminally under-heard album also serves as its own explanation why ? this is Vancouver singer-songwriter Dan Bejar’s indictment of the music industry, and why he won’t play along. More stripped down than the more arranged treatment his songs get in the New Pornographers, their simplicity is deceptive, as repeat listening reveals lyrical depth and deft melodic inventiveness. As he sings on the opening track, there may be joy in being barred from the temple, but Destroyer really wants to bring it to the ground. –JK





Dillinger Escape Plan Calculating Infinity (Relapse ‘99)
It’s a rare occurrence when a band redefines a genre, but the Dillinger Escape Plan is an extraordinary band. Unconditionally brutal, genre defying, as close to technically perfect as humanly possible and utterly terrifying in a live environment, the Dillinger Escape Plan didn’t reinvent themselves or their sound inasmuch as they reinvented the aggressive music underground. Combining hardcore, metal, prog, jazz and an unwavering ability for the extreme with unparalleled execution and innovation, Calculating Infinity shrugged off every conceivable notion of how a hardcore/metal album should sound and established Dillinger as the future of heavy music in the process. -CG





Dirty Three Horse Stories (Touch & Go ‘96)
From the first mournful wail of Warren Ellis’s violin, Horse Stories is as pure and as raw emotion as has ever been set to magnetic tape. Lyrics would likely be of the treacly, heart-on-sleeve variety, but without them, Ellis, drummer Jim White and guitarist Mick Turner are able to convey remarkably narrative instrumentals of epic grandeur. One listen to “Sue’s Last Ride,” about the last night of hell a friend went through as she overdosed, demonstrates why Ellis has been known to weep openly during shows; Horse Stories comes closest to capturing the power of their live performance. -JK





Eric's Trip Love Tara (Sub Pop ‘93)
It still sounds like a dream. Love Tara endures as the most precious, glimmering shard of debris from the so-called Halifax Pop Explosion. Fifteen songs, which clock in a few seconds over 30 minutes, thrill with raw excitement and heartfelt emotion. A beautiful, fragile record. –CWa





The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin (Warner ‘99)
The Lips had been a brave and exciting band frequently throughout the ‘90s, but no one must’ve expected the near-peerless sonic and emotional grace of The Soft Bulletin. Faux orchestras and Steven Drozd’s thunderous drums bob and weave around Wayne Coyne’s awestruck commentary about the love/hate dichotomy of human existence. Its final verdict: love is all you need. If Nevermind began the (rock) decade on a note of resignation, The Soft Bulletin wrapped its arms around the century and bade it sweet dreams. -MW





4 Hero Two Pages (Talkin' Loud ‘98)
British beat wizards Dego and Mar Mac have always been at the forefront of drum & bass culture, innovating the most dynamic sounds and then leaving others to imitate them. Few however have matched the ambitiousness of Two Pages. "Page One" features a live ensemble breathing gorgeous tones into the duos's compositions, while "Page Two" presents a Sun Ra-like exploration of the sonic cosmos, with commentaries on evidence of alien life and parallel universes. A combination of the elegiac and the esoteric that ultimately spells genius. -PB





Gavin Froome Mobile Villager (Nordic Trax ’99)
Creating a solid, consistently engaging house full-length is no easy task. Vancouver’s Froome more than met the challenge with Mobile Villager. Creating 12 instrumentals ranging in tempo, tone and sub-genre, Froome demonstrated that he could warmly and cohesively embrace deep, tech-y, filtered disco, jazz, and even down-tempo sounds. There truly are few house albums from anywhere in the world that can match its scope and subtlety. –DB





Godspeed You Black Emperor f#a#infinity (Constellation ’96)
Because it came out of nowhere. Sure, sure there were warning signs but Godspeed blindsided Canadian music with an album full of beauty and terror: blasted landscapes littered with broken voices; dirges torn to shreds by crescendos of strings and percussion. F#A# infinity is definitely not from the same place as the airport lounge where Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite spend their afternoons. Because it was chance meeting but it felt like fate. –EH





The Grifters Crappin’ You Negative (Shangri-La ’94)
A big part of what makes Crappin’ so great is its effortless, existential blues swagger. It falls directly into the lineage of records like the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, Beefheart’s Clear Spot and Wire’s Pink Flags. The songs are more developed than on their equally great One Sock Missing album, and this time when they really let rip, the effects are terrifying like those best dark rock moments. What it lacks in flower store ambience it makes up for with parking garage sonic power. –NE





Guided By Voices Bee Thousand (Scat ‘94)
Bob Pollard’s seminal work is one of the best pop records of the decade. In just over half an hour, Pollard delivers 20 hook-filled wonders sewn together with tape hiss. It was at the time of this, the band’s eighth full-length release, that GBV started to create a frenzy of media attention with raucous live shows to back up their impressive home-baked recordings. Bee Thousand is packed with gems, from moving anthems to poppy rock-outs, and still stands as Pollard’s most impressive pop thesis. -JB





PJ Harvey Dry (Too Pure ’92)
One listen to this boldly passionate release and I was hooked. PJ Harvey burst into the male-dominated, heavily jaded rock world of the early ‘90s with a release that kicked critics and new-found fans on the ass. Dry, her debut, invited listeners into an intense, brutally honest, confusion-filled world where every word and guitar lick was as precise as it was raw. Nothing short of brilliant. -DB





Heavy Vegetable The Amazing Undersea Adventures of Aqua Kitty and Friends (Headhunter ’94)
While San Diego resident Rob Crow continues to flex his creative songwriting powers in present-day bands like Thingy, Optiganally Yours and Pinback, his first band captured the essence of his unique pop sensibility on Aqua Kitty. Roller coaster rhythms drive home intoxicating melodies that impact with highly strung immediacy. Joined by Eléa Tenuta (with whom Crow continues to work in Thingy) for stunning male/female vocal interplay, the epiphanies come fast and furious with most tracks clocking in under the two-minute mark. -ID





Hepcat Right On Time! (Hellcat ‘98)
Hepcat’s breathtakingly authentic Jamaican flavour is peerless when it comes to the contemporary ska scene. Right On Time!, the band’s third album broke new ground in revealing the roots of ska’s third wave without compromising the jazzy Caribbean melodies that kept every track incredibly strong. An essential part of any ska lover’s collection, Right On Time! is the standard by which other albums are measured. -PL





The High Llamas Gideon Gaye (Target ‘94)
Music publications currently receive thousands of press kits each year from bands claiming to be influenced by Pet Sounds, when in actuality they sound like a drawer full of silverware falling down the stairs. As with Nirvana and Beck, you could blame Sean O’Hagan for providing the terminally uninspired a new set of references with which to fuck up, but the man is innocent. And brilliant. Gideon Gaye drew inspiration from the Beach Boys (and John Cale and Steely Dan and Burt Bacharach) to create an experimental, easy listening masterpiece. In 1994, there could be few more subversive acts. –MW





The Inbreds Hilario (PF ‘93)
Before drum & bass dominated dance floors, Kingston, Ontario’s Inbreds were rockin’ proof that bass and drums could be done. Much of this was recorded in the band’s infancy, bedroom four-track style, but this is no Sebadoh lo-fi fuzz out - bassist Mike O’Neill’s melodic sensibilities were always more ambitious. Backed by the boundless enthusiasm of drummer Dave Ullrich, O’Neill employed a distortion pedal to flesh out their sound, but his peerless songwriting is what sets this apart. They would get more polished, but Hilario remains a marvel - quintessentially Inbreds. -JK





King Cobb Steelie King Cobb Steelie (Raw Energy ‘93)
The most conflicted band in Canada let all their contradictions blaze forth on their 1993 debut. Crunchy indie guitar rock inflected by Afro-funk and hints of dub; introspective songs about personal politics undercut by goofy, non sequitur song titles cribbed from Saturday morning television; little instrumental curios jostling with the epic regions of "One’s a Heifer"’s monumental power riff. Raw and as yet undisciplined, King Cobb Steelie seemed charmingly unaware of how daring their polyglot pop ambitions really were. The rest of Canadian music is still trying to catch up. -CWo





The Kingpins Lets Go To Work (Stomp ’98)
Its not very often that a band will meets or exceeds expectations, but the Kingpins did not disappoint with Lets Go To Work. A great mix of traditional ska with surf/garage undertones, they served up some instrumentals but also some duets. They displayed some rock steady tendencies but also let loose. They showed tons of depth and variety with better production and seasoning than their debut. This is a home-grown classic. -SV





Kyuss Blues for the Red Sun (Dali ‘92)
With this, Kyuss brought the world of sand-blasted stoner rock to the mainstream and opened the way for bands like Monster Magnet and a whole host of other desert grunge practitioners. Producer Chris Goss, formerly of Masters of Reality, captured Kyuss's guttural bowel-shattering dirge brilliantly. -SG





Labradford Prazision LP (Kranky, ’94)
While not their best overall release, Prazision was a startling preview of what Labradford were capable of. This debut alchemised the excess noisage of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless with the ponderous delicacy of Eric Satie: would-be shoegazers who instead chose to look at the stars. “Listening in Depth” still stands as a beautious monolith, dense as a black hole — heavy music that managed to create space rather than obliterate it. –DP





Le Tigre Le Tigre (Wiiija ‘99)
Original riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) figured out that there ain’t gonna be a revolution unless you can dance to it. Snarling riff-o-ramic buoyant bubble-gum and incredibly infectious new wave hooks fuel her simple challenges: “Let me see you depoliticise my rhyme.” Tackling the misogynist patriarchy has never sounded like such a good time. -MBa





Luscious Jackson In Search of Manny EP (Big Cat ’93)
Filled with sly humour and not-so-slick beats, this debut told the tale of two fun, funky NYC femmes out to rock the town. With their E.S.G.-worshipping rhythms, super-simple programmed beats, and goofy, sex-positive rhymes, Gabby Glaser and Jill Cunniff were livin’ it large. Comparisons to their friends and, later, label-bosses the Beastie Boys were inevitable, but Luscious were far less gimmicky and much more subtle. Drummer Kate Schellenbach and keyboardist Vivian Trimble made Luscious a full-fledged band at the tail end of this project and the rest, as they say, is history. –DB





Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs (Merge ‘99)
This is the penthouse suite in Stephin Merritt’s considerable tower of song. Umpteen musical genres, 69 songs, five singers, three discs, and one songwriter result in a gender-fucking millennial art joke that defies anyone else to tread new ground on the subject of love. An astounding achievement — heartbreaking, hilarious, and impossible to ignore. –MBa





Massive Attack Protection (Virgin ‘94)
The definitive statement of Massive Attack's electronic sensibility. Can any other band write such riveting slow grooves? The lyrics and song structures on this album are sublimely written and made even better by the likes of Tracy Thorn and Horace Andy, who give the performances of their lives. Mad Professor's dub album No Protection is one of his own career highlights and acts as a companion to the vocal version. -DD





Mercury Rev Deserter's Songs (V2 ‘98)
After a long, long, hiatus, Mercury Rev returned with a masterpiece that their previous disc, See You On The Other Side, had only hinted at. More musically akin to the Golden Ticket EP by their Harmony Rockets alter ego, Mercury Rev dispensed with their previous spazziness, and instead presented a calmer, more composed vision. A beautiful and profound snapshot of calm in the eye of an emotional hurricane. –CR





Nas Illmatic (Columbia ’94)
Queensbridge-based Nas Escobar capitalised perfectly on mainstream rap’s mid-life crisis (post-gangsta and Public Enemy, pre-Puff and the white kids) with his immortal debut, Illmatic. Released in advantageous proximity to Wu-Tang Clan’s skilful, vicious first album, Illmatic’s star producers matched Nas’s unrivalled mike technique to boombastic, shimmering, lethally-relaxed beats and music. Next to today’s jittery and nervous rap hits, the record still sounds revolutionary, and the career-defining metaphors of Nas-as-ghetto-prophet and Nas as Rakim II found its fullest and most vibrant expression on the quaking and raw “New York State of Mind.” –CT





Neotropic 15 Levels of Magnification (N-Tone ’96)
Riz Maslen is a genius. Though she had already been releasing EPs under her Small Fish With Spine moniker, Maslen reached the heads, ears and IDM discussion groups of electronic music geeks everywhere with this full-length. The tremendous range of sounds, tones and moods found within 15 Levels… ensured that there was much to discuss. Neotropic’s sound sources are as original as her ideas. New discoveries are still made with each listen. -DB





Neurosis Through Silver In Blood (Relapse ‘96)
A new label and a continuing musical evolution coalesced into Neurosis’s most violent and damaging work. Through Silver In Blood pushed their sound beyond any known limits; swirling dirges collided with off-kilter moments of clarity, tribal rhythms and soundscapes that built upon the tension and beauty of the music before overwhelming it with unbridled heaviness that dissipated before recommencing. Punishing is not just a word for Through Silver In Blood, it is its mantra — made all the more potent by its use of non-metal instrumentation, visuals and brutality through artistry. –CG





Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge ‘98)
Neutral Milk Hotel’s second album is like finding your soul mate ? from the first instant, it feels like you’ve always known this album. The most focused, consistent and inventively accessible of the “Elephant Six” crew, Jeff Magnum’s kitchen sink muse throws horns, accordion, organ, singing saw and a full lint trap of fuzz into his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang melody machine. An album that would make a wickedly hallucinogenic children’s story. -JK





New York Ska Jazz Ensemble Get This! (Moon Ska ‘98)
Combining Harlem night clubs and ‘60s Jamaican sound systems, the NYSJE, a ska super-group culling members from the Skatalites, the Toasters and the Scofflaws, bring a respect and love for the original influences of the early ska musicians alive again. Their harmonised blend of disparate elements into cohesive, accomplished tracks is a testament to outstanding musicianship. Not only do their songs stand on their own strengths, but one of the great things about this band and this particular album is the vision and new-found respect for artists like Ellington, Monk and Mingus. –PL



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