Ongoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, encore presentation: A Not-So-Brief History of Ska, Part 1

When it comes to genres of music, most of them come and go. They’re hyped, reach some kind of peak, and then fade away.

Just look at the graveyard of forgotten genres. Anyone remember glitch? That scene began around the start of the century and featured some weird electronic manipulations of bloops and bleeps. It existed alongside electro-clash, a half-hearted resurrection of music from the synth side of the New Wave era.

We also had grim, freak-folk, crabcore, crunk, nu-balearic, blog house, glo-fi, hipster metal–you get the idea. All of these genres and scenes had their moments and then faded into the background or were killed off altogether.

There are, however, certain types of music that seem immortal.

The blues will never, ever die. Hip-hop isn’t going anyway. Neither is metal or punk or pop. They will all evolve and mutate over time, but the kernal at the heart of their operating systems will remain pure.

This brings me to another genre that will not die. Since ska was born in Jamaica in the 1950s, it was declared dead at least twice. The first wave petered out in the late 60s as reggae took over. After a big post-punk surge, the second wave was declared passe in the early 80s. But on both occasions, ska rose from the dead to return even stronger.

Songs heard on part one of this history of ska include:

English Beat, Mirror in the Bathroom

Prince Buster, Al Capone

Desmond Dekker, The Israelites

The Special AKA, Gangsters

The Selector, The Selector

Madness, The Prince

The English Beat, Ranking Full Stop

Specials, Ghost Town

Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Hope I Never Lose my Wallet

The Uptones, Get Out of My Way (Live)

As usual, we have this Eric Wilhite-supplied playlist to go along with everything.

Don’t forget that you can get the podcast version of this podcast through iTunes or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38516 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “The Ongoing History of New Music, encore presentation: A Not-So-Brief History of Ska, Part 1

  • “Ska wasn’t dead, just resting” haha.

  • Alan…I’m a faithful listener. This episode aired last Sunday night, instead of The Inventors.
    Question: Will there be any updates regarding the history of Ska to include new bands like The Interruptors?


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