Rude Boy Ska
My cousin was about two years older than me which was a big deal when I was ten. He was already in secondary school and mixing it with the big kids, going where they went and listening to the music they liked.
We would go over to his house, and he would play us records on his integrated Hi-Fi unit, which was state of the art back then as it had had a radio tuner, record player and tape deck all enclosed in a mahogany wooden box.
His favourite bands were Talking Heads, Madness, and the Specials, and he would play us his albums if we behaved. I remember the care he took with his precious records, before the process started we had to sit on the bed and not move. When he was sure that we would not in scratching distance of the record he would carefully pull the black vinyl from the sleeve and place it on the turntable, then press the play button so the tone arm would magically glide over to the first track and drop down.
The standout album for me back then was the Specials by the Specials. Every track on that album was a monster stomper. Track one, side one is a cover of Dandy Livingstone’s ‘Message to You Rudy’ as soon as it started, we would bounce around on his bed as he tried to teach us the monkey mash. We would bounce until we were either summed to eat or told to bloody stop that racket.
Years later I started to discover the original 60s Ska records, which for me was a revelation, it was a complete mind fuck to know that nearly every song, riff, and melody played by the bands in the late 70s and 80s was lifted from these little-known Jamaican artists. Well, it’s not the first time black music was repackaged as white to break through.