[Sunday Best Recordings; 04/27/2011]
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis Bring Back Ska With "I'm Sorry"
Ska has had a funny career as a genre. Since its invention in Jamaica in the late ’50s, the soulful R&B-inspired dance music has fallen in and out of favor. In the ’80s in England two-tone ska bands were the catchy darlings of the new wave scene and a musical symbol of racial harmony. Finally, ’90s ska punk had its fun moments in the US and other spots around the world, but, unfortunately, all the chain wallets and general cheesiness of the scene kinda gave the genre a bad name.
It seems like such a shame to leave things on that awkward note. Maybe its time for another wave! And if anyone can make the unfairly maligned genre cool again, it’s UK sibling trio Kitty, Daisy & Lewis. They’ve been giving similarly out-of-favor styles like rockabilly a well-deserved fresh coat of paint for a minute now. (Stripped-down rocker Hanni el Khatib should totally open for them next time they’re in the States.)
Their latest single “I’m Sorry,” off their forthcoming third album Smoking in Heaven, could very well kick off another British ska frenzy. Instead of trying to update or hybridize ska, they’re taking it way back to its old-school roots. But they do give it a modern sheen. “I’m Sorry,” is simple and spare and very polished. It’s like a triple distilled version of those early Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker classics — nostalgia stylishly redesigned. (The black and white video for it is similarly understated.)
They didn’t go too far with the minimalism though, you could still skank to this. Jamaican ska legends Eddie “Tan Tan” Thornton and Rico Rodriguez guest on the album. Maybe they helped give “I’m Sorry” just the right amount of heat.