Free Ska! Free Ska! Free Ska!

It’s time that you become familiar with Rarebreed Records.  This record company was formed by Obi Fernandez of Westbound Train and Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake fame.  Anyways, they have released a 15 track compilation and it can be downloaded for free!  Let’s push play…

  1.  “It Happens to Me (Have You Ever)” [Obi Fernandez] – Call it reggae or traditional ska; I call it a great song.  Obi brings the smooth vocals in this number, with the equally smooth backing vocals.  The horns don’t show up until hallway through, but quite honestly the remainder of the song works without them.  Great song!  Grade: A-


  1. “A Shakey Truce” [The Pomps] – The Pomps bring on the full ska sound with this up-tempo, 2 Tone-esque ditty.  The horn section is strong, and butt their presence was missed during the majority of the song.  None the less, this is still a solid track.  Grade: B+


  1. “I Believe” [Jukebox 101] – “I believe” has more of a reggae sound, mixed with a little gospel and R&B.  The vocals a great and has almost an 80’s/early 90’s vibe to it.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much.  Grade: B+


  1. “Out of Siight” [Passafire] – With the help of synthesizers, Passafire has a Bob Marley meets the Hippos sound in “Out of Siight.”  What an interesting amalgamation of different styles.  I dig it.  Grade: B+


  1. “I Want Justice” [Western Standard Time featuring Vic Ruggiero] – Ska and big band meet in “I Want Justice,” with just the right amount of Blues guitar.  Good stuff.  Grade: A-


  1. “Stranded” [Westbound Train]-Longtime band Westbound train does what they do best in this classic rocksteady number that will make you want to “get up.”  Two thumbs up!  Grade: A


  1. “Friends & Business” [The Skints] – If you are not familiar with the Skints, you should be.  They mix reggae and hip hop to create a truly unique sound.  While their sound may not appeal to the ska ore reggae purist, you cannot deny the shear talent they possess.  “Friends & Business is more of a straight up reggae song, leaving the hip hop element to other tunes.  I love this song.  Grade: A


  1. “House of Soul” [The Toasters] – You can’t mention ska without also mentioning the Toasters.  Formed in the early 80’s this band has seen it all.  I really enjoy the female backing vocals that complement the singing of the legendary Bucket.  Grade: B


  1. “Rescue” [The Movement] – A smooth island jam is found in rescue.  This will be your summer drinking song, I promise.  Grade: A-


  1. “Like A Virgin [The Slackers] – Such a classic song, done by a classic ska band.  That being said, I thought I would have enjoyed this more than I did.  Grade: B


  1. “Mr. Cop” [Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad] – Get your groove on while listening to “Mr. Cop” and embrace this stoner anthem.  Grade: B


  1. “The KKK Took My Baby Away” [The Rarebreed Allstars] – While the lyrics are almost laughable, the Rarebreed Allstars are serious about putting out a great tune.  There are no horns; however the overall sound is complete.  I dig it!  Grade: A-


  1. “To Be Hungry” [Penny Reel] – I wished I would have discovered Penny Reel earlier.  If there was ever such a thing as pop-reggae, this would be it.  Grade: A-


  1. “Jamaica Bay” [The Brooklyn Attractors] – I knew there had to be an instrumental in here somewhere.  This horn-heavy instrumental is as good as any in the genre.  Grade: A-


  1. “I Promised” [King Django]-Ska legend King Django rounds things out with this peppy little number with tight horns and classic ska beat.  Grade: B+


Sometimes the word “free” is synonymous with “low quality.”  I might also add that even though I am a huge fan of compilations, there are always a few songs that I usually don’t enjoy.  Neither is the case in this stellar sampler by Rarebreed recordings.  First of all, at 15 tracks, there is a ton of music that will keep you entertained for hours on end.  Each song is a joy to listen to, as Obi and Vinnie have found the “best of the best” to include on this album.  The standout for me is the quality of the vocals-every singer on this album has a smooth quality to their voice which is definitely easy on the ears.  This is in part due to Rarebreed’s focus on only reggae and trad ska outfits.  More punk laden ska bands aren’t necessarily known for having the best voices.  Don’t get me wrong, I cut my teeth on bands like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (which I am still a fan of all of these groups), but I think that Rarebreed has found their niche by focusing on a more traditional sound.  However, despite keeping a narrow focus, there is quite a bit of variety on this album.  So, do not hesitate; download this thing already.  Lookout for Rarebreed to be the next big thing.  I know I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next!


Overall grade: A-

Check then out here:


So what did you think? Share it my friend!

Follow by Email
Visit Us