When Jerry Dammers formed The Specials AKA and their label 2-Tone in 1979 he set out a totally different form of classic Jamaican Ska and gave Ska a whole new lease of life.

This collection of 69 tracks covers the gamut of 2-Tone, Ska-Punk, Oi and includes a huge number of 1 shot bands who only ever released one or two singles but who epitomised the punk rock origins of Ska-Punk – the same Jamaican rhythms but with a faster pace and predominantly British vocals (it went international with 3rd Wave of Ska).
It is also huge fun.

To give an indication of just how strong the movement was, no artist appears more than once on the collection except for Laurel Aitken (an original Jamaican Ska star) who appears as a solo artist and a band member.

Most of the major names are here – Specials, Madness, The Selecter, Bad Manners, as well as many of the 2nd division bands like the Merton Parkas, Judge Dread, Splodge. Laurel Aitken features as well as Desmond Dekker, both of whom gained a personal revival based around the Ska Revival. The rest is made up of bands who had one shot and a number of artists – Kim Wilde is one – who made a record in the style of Ska but weren’t properly part of the scene.

Inevitably, there are some ropey numbers and some that barely warrant their consideration as Ska but the collection is massively comprehensive and the booklet that accompanies the 3 CDs gives a good story for every one of the artists in the collection.

If you remember the Ska revival – or even original Ska – it’s a great collection to get deeply into the whole scene.