Well here’s something more than slightly different: an Italian rock-steady band offering their fifth album, a distinct ska interpretation of established rock/pop hit singles including Oasis’s ‘Roll with It’ and even ‘Toxic’, previously known, if at all, in its Britney Spears incarnation. There are 14 tracks here in total, and it’s the implausibility – audacity really – of the track selection that makes it all appealing in an odd sort of way. Any collection that manages to incorporate interpretations of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’, the Smiths’s ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ and, perhaps most bizarre of all, the title track – Neil Young’s ‘Everybody Knows this is Nowhere’ – deserves at least some attention.
There is a long tradition of reggae covers of mainstream pop/chart records, and in decades past some of these were fairly dire both musically and in terms of production. The Easy Star All Stars raised the game with thoughtful reggae interpretations of whole classic albums, starting with Dark Side of the Moon, and emphasising high production values. But this Bluebeaters album is different from both. It is not meant to be some serious ska reconstruction of seminal rock or pop moments, it’s just some well-played goodtime ska music dealing with songs that most of us will recognise in some recess of the mind or in some past memory; it doesn’t pretend to be anything more. And ‘Roll with It’ does sound pretty good after all.
The Bluebeaters: ‘Everybody Knows’ released on Record Kicks, 13th April 2015