V/A - Midnight Radio Vol 2: Workin Third Shift (Jumpstart Records)

This is one of the three good records put out on Jumpstart (most of their releases being in the ska-punk vein) and this one is quite good. Featuring many bands all over the world (but mostly from the US), its sure to be a good time for any ska fan.

Unfortunantly the album starts off with The Kinetics "Kids Stuff" which is not very good. To Put it frankly, its just too poppy and theres no kind of soul in the vocalist. Maybe their instrumentals are better or something as the group itself seemed kind of tight. But this is a weak track to start the record with.

This is the song they should have started with. "Angels and You" by Englands Intensified. Them, along with Dr. Ring Ding are probobly the rootsiest bands playing ska in Europe right now, and this song is a nice piece of rocksteady with some great harmonys. Honestly this is the first song I've heard by them and I think its a real great song and one of the better ones on here.

Next is See Spot with one of their live favorites "Needles and Pins" This is a good upbeat ska song with some nice lead vocals by Chuck and harmonizing by Brad Pate. This is in true See Spot fashion and was a nice treat as this song hadn't even been released before this comp.

After Hours is the side project for See Spot keyboard player Brad Pate and this song is a nice peek into what they might offer in the future. The song is called "Go Figure" and its pure instrumental skinhead style reggae with heavy organ. Its another favorite of mine off the album.

King Django shows up next riding a totally dubbed out version of the Radiation Kings "Can't Find A Way" rhythm. Django renames the song "Hell When I'm Gone", adds ukelele as well as the dubs and new words and creates his own song in the process. The song is pretty good because of the dub effects, this isnt a favorite song of mine on this record though.

One of the guitarists of Steady Ups, Andy Bauer, formed The Dynamos as a studio based project before even joining the Steady Ups, and this is The Dynamos in action right here. Nice song called "Undone" featuring the same vocalist who sang on the Steady Ups classic "Melany". Hes a good vocalist and this is a good song. The vocals are a little low, the music is played real well throughout. Andy has told me that The Dynamos might be releasing their debut soon so look out for that.

Rathskeller comes next with "East Wake" and I am just not a fan of it. I can't really place it but for some reason I can just not get into this band. I Think it might be the vocalist. But I just don't know.

King Django returns on the 8th track. With a nice clapping snare drum, this song is called "No Trial". This isnt a new tune though as it was released on the NYC Ska Mob album a couple of years ago. Its still a great song though, and especially great when coupled with Rocker T's deejay version "Not Guilty" which was also featured on NYC Ska Mob.

Speaking of Rocker T, he is here also with a awsome unrelased song called "By Your Side". This song is in the style of his Version City material (as opposed to his other more hip-hop/regga based sounds) and maybe a hint of a new Version City album for Rocker T? This is a nice song with a heavy reggae rhythm. Im quite a Rocker T fan (my girlfriend thinks he sounds like a elf, and although I agree with her on some levels, I still think hes great).

Sounding tighter than they did on their Ska Satelite debut "Introducing", the Robustos give us a new one from their second disc "The New Authentic", a tune called "No Strangers Here". The song is alright though not great. Kind of on the soul music side with Tonya Abernathy belting out her powerful voice. Good song but not great.

NYC ska legend, Victor Rice, lends the comp his talents with the hypnotic "Patience" off of his "At Version City" album. This is an excellent song with great rhythm, melody and solos. Victor Rice always pleases. I can't wait to hear some new material from him.

The Blue Beat Stompers are next. A band from the Bay Area that is as unoriginal as their name suggests. They bring us "I Won't Cryu For You" off their debut "Sit Tight and Listen Keenly". Its not a bad song its just incredibly unoriginal which makes it a bit boring. Text book harmonizing and so on.

Then from Pittsburgh, Pa come the B-3's. They offer up "Trigger and the Family", a song with a celtic sounding intro before breaking into a political reggae rhythm. The rhythm is not bad but the horns sound awful and the singer sounds like he might be more at home on a jazz or swing tune or something.

One of the best bands coming out these days are the veterens from Sacramento, Ca Steady Ups. Here they give us "Long Way To Go" with a nice rock steady rhythm and excellent singing. Lead singer Kenny Beasley has a very unusual sounding voice in todays scene, but its got a real great rootsy quality to it, and its complimented nicely by the female vocalist Lesley. This is a band to be looking out for.

Serving up some nice roots rock reggae is L.A.'s own Irie Beats with the tune "Cantina" off their debut. This has some excellent guitar work on it as well as some great dubby steppers drumming. One of my favorite Irie Beat tunes.

Another treat is the Rhythm Doctors with "Evening Mood", a different version than the one on their "Reggae Injection" album. More fancy organ work by Mark Quan and excellent guitar picking by Jesse Wagner. And I like how they incorporate "Ranglin On Bond St" into the middle of the song. Nice touch.

Crazy Baldhead is NYC SKA MOB guitarist of choice Agent Jay Nugents band. Though they never released a album, they have many good tunes on various other compilations. This tune, "Once Again" is a nice skinhead reggae flavored tune with nice guitar work. The only thing lacking is qualitty vocals. I think its Agent Jay himself thats singing and he comes off sounding kind of like Lou Reed circa Velvet Underground which isnt a compliment considering the style of music. CRazy Baldhead is definitely a band to look for though so keep your eyes open.

Straight from Germany come Dr. Ring Ding amd the Senior All-Stars with a nice ska instrumental. The doc never lets down. This tune is "Call 809" with the Senior All Stars typlically rocking the ska beat and the good doctors signature big trombone sound. Excellent tune.

The last track is by New York based Orange Street. They play for you a tune called "It Is You". This group has a nice lineup featuring Victor Rice, Agent Jay and drums by Mr. Bob Timm of ska.about.com fame. The vocals are a little bit weak on this track I think though, sounding almost like a college female angst singer. Heavy reggae rhythm though and a nice melodica with some dubby effects thrown in for good measure. It would make a excellent instrumental or dub track for sure.

So there you have it, 19 tracks by the leading lights of ska/reggae worldwide. Unfortunantly most of the bands have broke up by now, but the Intensified, See Spot, After Hours, Radiation Kings, Django, Dynamos, Rocker T, Steady Ups and Dr Ring Ding tracks completely justify purchase.

  1. The Kinetics - Kid's Stuff
  2. Intensified - Angels and You
  3. See Spot - Needles and Pins
  4. After Hours - Go Figure
  5. The Radiation Kings with King Django - Hell When I'm Gone
  6. The Dynamos - Undone
  7. Rathskeller - East Wake
  8. King Django - No Trial
  9. Rocker T - By Your Side
  10. The Robustos - No Strangers Here
  11. Victor Rice - Patience
  12. The Blue Beat Stompers - I Won't Cry For You
  13. The B-3's - Trigger and the Family
  14. Steady Ups - Long Way To Go
  15. Irie Beats - Cantina
  16. Rhythm Doctors - Evening Mood (On Bond Street)
  17. Crazy Baldhead - Once Again
  18. Dr. Ring Ding and the Senior All-Stars - Call 809
  19. Orange Street - It Is You

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