I Have a Confession to Make…

Not simply content with singing a few 80s cover tunes like many ska bands out there, Rude Boy George only does songs from this era. Despite only being around since 2013, RBG is rich with experience as its members come from several New York area ska acts to include: Bigger Thomas, Across the Aisle, and the Royal Swindle. Rude Boy George also features the creator of the quintessential ska blog, Duff Guide to Ska, Steve Shafer. Let’s have a listen to their debut full length, “Confessions”…

1. “The Metro”(Berlin)- “The Metro” seems to meld not only the glorious synth pop sound of the original, but percussion and horns of a traditional ska number. While the instrumentation is great, it is Megg’s hypnotic vocals that carry this tune. Grade: A

2. “Always Something There to Remind Me” (Naked Eyes)-Comparisons are always made between cover tunes and the originals. It is often difficult to not compare these songs to other bands that have covered them as well. “Always Something There to Remind Me” was also covered by the now defunct ska-synth group The Hippos. While I enjoy both versions of the song very much, it is Rude Boy George that captures more of a catchy, whimsical sound with its ever changing melodies. Grade: A-

3. “Don’t Change” (INXS)- Despite hearing “Need You Tonight” and “New Sensations” probably hundreds of times in my life, I was not familiar with “Don’t Change.” To be honest after previewing it, INXS’s version was just ok for me. However, I really like how RBG turns an otherwise gritty-sounding song, slows things down a bit, and combines the vocal stylings of Megg and Roger. What a gem! Grade: A

4. “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” (The Human League) – This song embodies the wackiness that was the 1980’s. Megg and Roger trade off well vocally to match the original. I also dig the synth and organs. Grade: B+

5. “Talking in Your Sleep” (The Romantics) – Great reggae feel with echo-vocals. There is also top notch harmonization. Check out the guitar and organ solos. Love this tune! Grade: A

6. “Eyes Without a Face” (Billy Idol) – I never was a huge fan of Billy Idol, but as it turns out, I really like this song. Smooth vocals and a sax solo give this tune a little extra oomph. Grade: A

7. “Driving in My Car” (Madness)-A quirky song that has a definite Madness feel to it (I could not find the original to compare this version to). Sorry guys, I’m not feeling this one as much as the others. Grade: C

8. “Tempted” (Squeeze) – RBG adds some much needed pizzazz to this otherwise overplayed song (although the original is a great tune). I really enjoyed the trading off of vocals near the middle of the song. Grade B+

9. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (Eurythmics) – Unfortunately it is difficult to remember the original after this song was butchered by Marilyn Manson. This album’s version creates the darker tones with the organ and totally nails that synth solo. The great vocal harmonies at the end make this a great album from start to finish. Grade: A-

Although I typically enjoy songs done by the original artists more than the cover version, I always enjoy a good ska cover song. Cover songs are one thing, but dedicating your entire existence to playing nothing but someone else’s songs? This is my gut reaction when I hear about any cover band, in any musical genre. However, I began to eagerly await this release, and I wanted to be open-minded. When I heard the first track, to be honest, I still wasn’t sure if I liked it. In a way, it felt overproduced, more so than any ska album I have ever heard. It wasn’t until my second listen-through that I really appreciated what Rude Boy George has to offer here. There is a delicate balance between giving each song a ska feel (which a lot of bands do),yet maintaining the essence of the new wave sound as well (which a lot of bands do not). This was created by not only the synthesizers, but studio production as well. The band is certainly not lacking in experience and the vocal double-threat of Megg and Roger is second to none. My only critique is that I wish the band hand either a trumpet and or trombone, to make the horn parts stand out more. I will toss my preconceived notions aside. If ska music has room for hardcore (Mighty Mighty Bosstones), a boyband (Suburban Legends) and even Satanism (Mephiskapheles), than why not a cover band? Rude Boy George has the energy and musical chops to drive a new group of listeners to the often sputtering world of ska. So do not walk, do not run, but rather, skank your way down memory lane! Overall Grade: A-

So what did you think? Share it my friend!

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