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The Skatalites


People who think that the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones invented Ska are about as well-informed as those who think Elvis Presley invented rock 'n' roll. The Skatalites mixed R&B and Afro-Caribbean rhythms some 20-odd years before the Bosstones, reworking the musical blend into steady waves of gently cresting and falling guitars and stand-up bass, heated by blustering horns. The music was infectious and compelling, a sound that would fill dance halls to sweltering capacities as the crowd swayed to the lilting rhythms. Amazingly, the most important band in Ska's history lasted a mere 14 months, after which lead trombonist Don Drummond was put away in a mental institution for murdering his wife, where he died a few years later. The short lifespan of the band did nothing to end their lasting influence, as seen in the resurgence of Ska in Britain and the U.S. in the 1980s and '90s, and in the rise of various subgenres (Reggae, Dub, bluebeat, Rock Steady) created simply by altering Ska's original rhythms. Even today, the Skatalites' recordings and live performances blow every Ska-Punk/Metal/pick-your-hybrid band to smithereens.

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