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I love TGE (The Great Escape) festival, a Brighton based city based festival showcasing new music from all over Europe. Every year I go without expectations since I have hardly heard of any of the band and every year I came away with a whole list of bands that I need to download. This year was no exception but the stand out act for me was 'The Skints' a Reggae/Ska band from South East London.
Their live performance at the festival in a small venue on the Friday afternoon was the best live act I saw and when I went out and bought their CD 'Part & Parcel' I discovered a gem, which I am sure will go on to become a modern classic of the genre.
The band is a four piece from south east London comprising the multitalented instrumentals and vocal skills of Marcia Richards, Vocalist and guitarist Joshua Waters Rudge, vocalist and drummer Jamie Kyriakides and bassist Jonathan Doyle. The band has been together since they were at school with each other aged 16 in 2005 and as 'The Skints' they have been performing since 2010. 'Part and Parcel' is their second studio album released in 2012.
Those of us like me who are old enough can remember the late 70's when roots reggae especially British based reggae became popular and achieved a certain amount of commercial success. Bands like Aswad, Steel Pulse, Misty in Roots along with the like of UB40 and the Two Tone Ska revival bands showed that there a was a market for home grown roots reggae and ska that featured relevant social comment for the younger and diassfected generation of the time This music built upon the spiritual and political music that had come out of Jamaica a few years earlier. 'The Skints' may represent part of a small but new and growing revival of the genre which seems to be gaining pace at the moment especially in the London area. Although the musical influences of the band are there for all to hear this is not to say that their album or their music is simply trying to imitate what went before, like all good music based on a previous musical movements the best exponent try and bring something different to the table. On 'Part and Parcel' the band have manage this with great skill and innovation.
The album start with an up beat track 'Rise Up' which sets the tone for the rest of the record. By that I don't mean that it is representative of all that is too follow, quite the opposite. The track mixes musical genres, a bit of Reggae a bit of rap/hip hop and some ska beats. This is an early indication that The Skints are going to keep you on your musical toes and that you are going to be in for a bit of a treat. They effortlessly manage the trick of infusing a modern edge provide by the grimy rap of Joshua Waters Rudge to the rhythms and sounds that a Reggae fan like me who knew the 70's Roots sound would feel familiar with. This theme is kept going for the second track 'Rat-at-at' this time the rap section provided by the sweeter tones of Marcia Richards who in contract to Rudge has a delicate and soulful quality to her voice.
Just when you think that you've got a handle on the music and know what to expect the band throw you a perfect curve ball with the third track 'Just Can't Take No More'. For me this is the best track on the record and surprisingly the vocals are provided by yet another member of the band drummer Jamie Kyriakides. Kyriakides is blessed with a sweet tone to his voice the like that reminded me of Dennis Brown, praise indeed. The song is a beautifully crafted reggae ballad and it provided mewith the hook into the band when I saw them live. 'Just Can't Take No More' is seriously good and is one of those songs that you think of as a classic on only a couple of plays.
The record keep giving you fresh mixes and musical surprises. Joshua Waters Rudge once again takes the lead for the next track 'Live East Die Young' a cautionary tale of the danger that young people can face growing up in modern Britain. Once again the social commentary is beautifully accompanied by the insistent beats of music. And so it carries on for the rest of the album each track different from the last. Classic sounding rock steady one minute, then a bit of high tempo ska, more beautifully sung roots by Kyriakides who I have to say again a very good singer. One more track 'Up Against the Wall Riddim' for me stands out track in that it showcases all the bands vocal skills each of the singers contributing and featuring a slightly heavier dub beat. This si one of those records that I can't stop playing and that doesn't happen that often these days. I can honestly say there is not a bad track on the whole record...really... All killer, No filler!
Jamie Kyriakides - vocals, drums
Joshua Waters Rudge - vocals, guitar
Jonathan Doyle - bass
Marcia Richards - vocals, keyboards, alto saxophone, melodica, flute, guitar
1. Rise Up
3. Can't Take No More
4. Live East Die Young
5. Ring Ring
6. Lay You Down
8. Rubadub (DoneKnow)
9. Up Against The Wall Riddim
11. You Better
I can't praise this record enough. It is a finely crafted mix of musical styles wrapped up in a punk attitude that makes it relevant to a new generation of Reaggae/Ska music fans. The band are extremely talented musicians and vocalists as can be seen from their live shows and their record manages to capture the vibrancy and immediacy of their live performances. My favourite record of the year by far and it might turn out to be a bit of a classic!
'Part and Parcel' can be bought from Amazon uk for £8.50 including delivery at the time of writing this review.
© Mauri 2013