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June 19, 2024

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Blue Beat Players
Torrid Rock (Stubborn Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Playing traditional ska, this six-piece band from Japan shows that there are no boundaries to the influence ska has had on people. With twelve tracks on their new Stubborn Records release, they help introduce themselves to an American market.

The title track, an instrumental on a predominately all-instrumental album, starts everything off. Rich horns make their presence known, taking charge and leading the song, while the guitar helps out with a nice upbeat. Soft percussion sets the backdrop for everything, keeping a nice rhythm along with the bass. Together they get you dancing from the get go, with no messy melodies to wad through before you get to the good stuff. "Let's Ska" shows what can happen when the guitar takes charge. A very dominant upbeat leads the way, this time forcing the horns to take a back seat. But don't think for a minute the horns are going to sit down on the job. Providing a very soothing and laid-back atmosphere for the song, they fly through the number with a soft breeze in mind. And lets not forget the bass and the drums. The rhythm section works together to gently give the song some padding and make it full sounding. Danceable and relaxing at the same time, this number will relieve you of all your tension and let your body slowly move to the music. Adding vocals on "This Girl Of Mine," they show you why they should stick to the instrumental numbers. The vocalist can sing and carry a tune, and if I didn't know better I would say he was very Jamaican sounding, but the problem here is the lyrics. An example of the lyrics are, "This girl of mine/she makes me sad/but everything's just fine/cause I know that she is the only one/who makes me glad." If you just pay attention to the music, everything is fine. The vocals blend with the music nicely, and the song is mighty moving, but I'm a very lyric-oriented person, and if they're there I'll pay attention. As much as I tried to ignore them, after awhile they just started smacking me on the head and I couldn't take it anymore. "Space Summer" offers a better job of lyrics combined with great music. The catchy moog intro snaps you up from the beginning, and from there the whole jungle rock/jazz feel enslaves you and takes control of your whole body. This time the lyrics aren't the main focus point, the moog is, so they just feel like an extra tool used in the song. On top of that, they work a lot better with the music: "I say, why don't you take a trip to the 'Space Summer'?" Ending with "Whiska A Go Go," the album ends the same way it started...happy, relaxing melodies that are easy to dance with.

Lasting over fifty one minutes, the only bad part about this CD was the lyrics on "This Girl of Mine," and with the music backing it up it wasn't that bad. Other than that, this CD was mighty good. If you're looking for some good, instrumental ska that you can pop in to dance with or sit back and wind down for the day, this CD can offer you both. I'll give this CD an A-.

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