In 2018 Melbourne Ska Orchestra are releasing a song every week for the entire year! 52 weeks. 52 songs. One Year Of Ska. Tune in and enjoy.
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Tracks 1-13 – Ska Classics
Prince Buster was a true giant in the world of Ska.
This is Song 1 of 52 to come. Watch out! This one kicks. Don’t argue!!!
Prince Buster was a key figure in the development of Ska worldwide. A true pioneer in the Jamaican music industry, Ruffer than Ruff and Tuffer than Tuff, he was a self-made man that inspired many. This song hints at the country’s fascination with Hollywood’s own gangster rude boy.The opening riff is also used by The Specials in their debut release song ‘Gangsters”. Watch out!
Justin Hinds and the Dominoes
Originally released in 1964, it’s timeless theme of shit going pear shaped still resonates today.
Their joyous three-part harmony firmly kicked adversity in the knackers.
Melbourne Ska Orchestra fully supports this line of action.
Hope no-one is Boderated by this. Boom!
Carry Go Bring Come
Rumour has it this song is about gossip. But you didn’t hear that from us. Enjoy the tune but don’t tell anyone.
Justin Hinds and his vocal trio had a beautiful blending of voices that struck a chord with the whole orchestra. The title means “gossip” and is a warning to those who speak ill of others. The trio recorded many great songs which all stand the test of time. Initially a Duke Reid production, this song is a staple amongst Ska lovers worldwide.
The Skatalites hit the planet in 1963 and the world hasn’t been the same since.
They were the Bomb. They wrote the manual. Here’s our take on their take. Confused? Press Play. One of the first tunes the Melbourne Ska Orchestra ever performed at their debut performance in 2003. This dark classic from the genius trombonist Don Drummond with the Skatalites in full swing captures a unique energy from the early days of Jamaican ska. The haunting melody might possibly hint at the troubled persona of the composer, an icon in Jamaican musical history.
Feel Like Jumping
This is definitely what will happen when you hear this song. Watch for overhead ceiling fans, light fittings and loose change. Marcia Griffiths was one third of Bob Marley’s I-Threes and a fully fledged artist in her own right. She had many hits in Jamaica and continues to record to this day. This song featured in the MSO’s debut performance and is sung by one of the Melbourne’s most respected singers Sally Ford. This sweet rocksteady rhythm is always a winner with their live shows.
It is often said that the Melbourne Ska Orchestra is like a good monster.Held together loosely with nuts. We reckon that’s about right.
Byron Lee was the golden child of Jamaica for a period representing the country at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. In a considerably small period in the Jamaican recording timeline, they managed to create and capture a vast body of work and were hugely popular on the live scene. Frankenstein was first performed by the orchestra in their debut set at the Falls Festival in Lorne. This particular performance caught the attention of the musical industry and the buzz had begun.
Man In The Street
This definitely feels like the soundtrack to a 60’s film set in Melbourne. You know, when houses were cheap, traffic was minimal and before Flinders and Swanston became Times Square.
A signature tune in the Skatalites repertoire, this tune celebrates the expansive sound palette of the orchestra’s sonic landscape. The Hammond organ solo is reminiscent of the late great Jackie Mittoo, a Studio One arranger, producer and composer.
Message To Rudy
This has nothing to do with letting people know they are in a state of undress. Stop ya messin’ around…Dance!
If there was any song that connected the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, this was it! Mutual fond memories of the UK 2Tone wave with The Specials doing their rendition moved many a member into Ska converts. The sound, the look, the energy, the political climate, sparked a movement that respected the old school songs and gave them new life.
The “Rudy” or Rude Boy was a common character in the early Jamaican ska landscape. A petty thief, a would-be gangster, a young man who thought he was “Tougher than tuff!” The song is a warning to curb their messing around or end up in prison.
These days a Rude Boy is more a styled up individual who pays no mind to a life of crime. The trombone player on the Specials version also played on the original Dandy Livingstone version in 1967.
Not exactly the setting for an evolutionary debate but the question does arise when humans have difficulty dancing to this tune.
Any Ska band starting out would have played this Toots and the Maytals classic as a sure fire way to get the crowd singing. Nicky remembers…
“The first time I heard this song was by Ross Hannaford’s Dianna Kiss at the Esplanade Hotel in St.Kilda. I sought the original and heard the joyful community sound of the record. Apparently Kylie Minogue and the Wiggles did a version for UNICEF some time back. It would be safe to say we referenced the original for our rendition! “
Night Boat To Cairo
The UK 2 Tone scene sprouted many a worthy act but Madness were well revered as frontrunners of the style, adding a big serve of humour and working-class irreverence. Some brilliant songwriting added depth to their story and this song is a fine example of the hybrid recipe they invented. As with “A Message to You Rudy” by The Specials, Nightboat to Cairo was a clear reference point for all members of the orchestra, stamped into the DNA of their musical adolescence. Definitely a crowd favourite and also included in the debut gig in 2003.
This song was the Wailers first bona-fide hit in 1963. A young Bob Marley can be heard singing his heart out over a tight Skatalites backing band. Recorded for Coxsone Dodd at the infamous Studio One, this song launched the career of one of the most important icons in Jamaican music. The call to “Simmer Down” is a message to the rude boys and gangsters of the time to cool off their nasty ways as the early 60’s in Jamaica was a time of political change and warring factions that would often end in bloodshed.
This song is vital addition to the orchestra’s set as it was the starting tune for many years running. The band would start playing offstage and eventually populate the stage to the amazement of the crowd. Rockfort Rock inspired the orchestra’s tune ‘Katoomba” which became the new opener in the live set. For the record, this was also the first song the band ever rehearsed.
Run Joe (Feat. Stranger Cole)
Our good friend Stranger Cole has been a regular visitor to our shores and calls Australia his second home. We first performed with him at the AWME festival in Melbourne and we were amazed by the energy and style of this living legend. He was so thrilled with this new rendition that he called his Jamaican Radio friends and told them to get ready for a new upgraded wicked version. Run Joe tells the story of a man getting caught in the act and being chased by the angry boyfriend/husband! At over 70 years old , he still shouts out “More Life”
Tracks 13-26 – TV & Movie Themes
Austin Powers Theme (Soul Bossa Nova)
More than Groovy!
The Orchestra does a Rudeboy makeover on the Quincy Jones classic. From the original Bossanova Boogie to a Boss Reggae Footstomp, this Melbourne town version catapults your body into dance mode and reignites your Mojo. Skakadelic Baby!
Curb Your Enthusiasm
SkaPress International chats to saxophonist Pete Mitchell
If Larry David were to join the band, what instrument would he play?
It doesn’t matter really as long he knows I take the solos.
What do you think he could bring to the band?
Well, we always need sandwiches.
Does he have to read music?
That’s not so important. He just needs to be aware.
Aware of what?
That I take the solos.
Dancehall Doomsday with the horn section commandeering the Tardis. The MSkaO join the Doctor on a Theremin carpet ride to a Dalek shindig. It doesn’t take a sonic screwdriver to unlock the joy when the ska goes cosmic.
You want reality? You want immortality? Dance!
As far as we are concerned there is nothing strange about this cartoon family. The very fabric of the Orchestra is woven by the same dysfunctional chaos. Sure we might not have a talking dog but we do have trombones that bark. Woof Woof! Move your Feet!
Star Wars Themes
The Star Wars Trilogy in Full Imperial Surround Ska Sound!
BamBam and Pebbles have grown up and now think Ska is kinda cool.
They persuaded Fred and Barney to cash in their Super and buy a nightclub. They asked us to play but they offered us peanuts.
We were hungry.
Game Of Thrones
You think this series has a monopoly on plot twists? HA!
The Melbourne Ska Orchestra story reads like a veritable slashing of normality, romping nakedness, subterfuge and secrets, suspense and tribulations…… and that’s just in the rehearsal studio. A 25 plus army of misfits bludgeoning their way through melodies and chord progressions resulting in an ensuing cacophony that is so left it’s actually right. A ramshackle journey with dragons and trumpets…
You think John Snow is the only one that knows nothing?
The Orchestra is well adept at working out escape routes to all sorts of situations.
Sometimes we dig musical tunnels just so we can give the arrangers a false sense of completion. Laugh! You might think our quirky compositions have a bit of savvy Hogan in them, but in fact, we ‘re more like Schultz and Colonel Klink on a bad day…no idea what’s going on.
James Bond Theme
007 will never be the same after this version leaks to the underworld. The next Bond feature film will have the orchestra as 007 clones saving the world from
evil horn arrangements, bad tuning, erratic tempo shifts and international wardrobe malfunctions. MI5 has been replaced by a booking agent and all instruments will have Martini holders attached.
Monty Python Theme
And now for something completely different! The orchestra highly rates this English comedy troupe as it truly reflects the madness involved in even thinking of putting a band of this size together. Apart from the fact that the dressing room smells like a cheese shop post performance and no one knows whether they are arguing or not, the band is definitely a flying circus.
The amount of bribery and corruption depicted in this series pales in comparison to the amount of police work required to stop band members from soloing too long. There is a finite length in any given orchestra show and the drug induced dressing room conversations trying to convince the band leader into thinking that solos need extra time is tragic in its comedy.
The Pink Panther
A bumbling detective thinking he has all the answers in an international murder mystery plot… It’s a little bit like the individual orchestra members carrying a delusional belief that everything they play is considered and practised! Chaos and serendipitous misfortune are the hallmarks of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra’s modus operandi. The whole thing is a bleedin’ fluke!
It’s a little know fact that certain members of the orchestra were able to decipher the correct dialogue of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo in the iconic series.
Much of what Skippy was trying to relay was the fact that he was NOT a ‘Bush’ kangaroo at all. Truth be told he grew up in an inner Melbourne suburb (not too far from Brunswick) and was doing his Masters in Eastern Philosophy. The acting job was just a part time income stream to assist with his research.
Tracks 27-39 – Originals
It is with great pleasure that we release this tune into the world. It’s the first song of the next chapter of the MSO 52 Project. For the next 13 weeks, we will be taking you on a journey through the orchestras original compositions. This song is called Perfect Storm and we’re really proud it! Hope you enjoy!
At live shows, one of our singers, Pat Powell, tells the story of how he got involved with Melbourne Ska Orchestra. We first came together when Pat was driving a bus transporting fellow artists around a music festival. We heard him sing and had to ask him to be part of the band. This song is a tribute to that chance encounter that has ended up taking us on so many amazing adventures together.
Good Days Bad Days
Good Days Bad Days
Yep. Life is full of em.
Just keep a positive attitude, learn from the low times and fully appreciate the high side. As the orchestra sing…
Sometimes the temperature is right / And you would see her dancin’ through the night / Sometimes it’s just a Hurricane / Picked up In Newport and Flung to Spain.
Enjoy the ride skanksters!
Change Your Mind
Fake news. Real news. Fake News? Who knows?
This tune is an international co-write with Maltese rock legend Ivan Grech. It turns out that everyone seems to share the same opinion when it comes to twists and turns and corrupt dealings with politics.
While shooting a Suntory whiskey commercial in Japan, the Orchestra came across some interesting personalities. Twenty-five of us packed into a tiny ramen noodle shop after the shoot and found ourselves chatting to a fiery young “businessman” called Kenji. We never asked how he made all his money, but he was happy to shout the band a round of sake.
City In His Head
There’s trouble on the streets! Well, there always has been. From the larrikin Push to the Bodgies and Widgies, the Bonegilla riots, and the Sharpies and Mods. There may be a new generation in town, but there’s is a story as old as the city itself. The MSO wrote this track as an offering to the angry gods of the argy-bargy. There’s nothing good about the spin of the tabloid press. But there is something oddly beautiful about a chair flying through the air. Peace!
What You Said And What You Did
Contradiction and hypocrisy is a hell of a thing. We’re all exposed to it from time to time but it’s never an easy situation. From political to personal and personal politics it’s always good to remember what you said vs what you did. The harmonies in this tune, on the other hand, are spectacular.
Skip…. Skip O’Niel…. Up and coming young jazz horn player, Doing well for himself! In demand, getting the gigs, he was even backing up some of the better known Divas in town…. Yeah…. Skip was goin places. His “Star” was on the rise and so was his ego. He turned up one day yappin about how he’d scored this gig with some big international Ska band playing next Saturday.
“Ha! isn’t this some joke?”
“Easy money for just playing one note, over and over”
“The ‘Skank’ apparently”
“I could do this gig in my sleep”
Quite the call for someone who was new to the form…..
How is it possible that in the 21st century there are people who think the earth is flat? Crazy right!? I guess in a world of alternate facts and other such covfefe it gets hard to tell. Flat earth thinking abounds – we’ve got to … step out of the dark, step into the light, open your heart, face up to the fight