JERRY DAMMERS COULD NEVER HAVE EXPECTED IT. While we Brits sat stroking our original singles, the Americans reinvented ska as a megabuck monster. Dance Hall Crashers – who take their name from a ’60s Jamaican compilation – love it, too. It’s just they don’t treat it like the most sacred thing since the Dead Sea Scrolls.
They mess with the formula; allowing a pop sensibility to take the place of downright authenticity. And with the only concession to ska’s political roots being a vague anti-religious-doctrine rant called ‘Stand By’, this is a jumpy, fidgety, fun album. Which means you might actually be tempted to skank to it.
A mixture of punky riffing, bubblegum silliness and the by-now-predictable horns-and-bass stomping, the amazing thing is how few tracks here descend into clichi. Which might well be down to the way joint vocalists Elyse Rodgers and Karina Denike sing about crap relationships, alcoholic benders and Elvis fantasies in harmonic Go-Go’s fashion.
True, they occasionally tune their voices to that annoying helium whine that West Coast punks seem to think is synonymous with anything remotely reggae, but this is an album that will not make you want to take up arms and defend 2-Tone’s honour. Which might be the second coming of ska’s biggest achievement.