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In Retrospect

The Toasters

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Album Review

When the third wave ska revival hit New York City in the early '90s, the scene quickly divided into two broad schools: the reggae-inflected old-schoolers who drew as much on the rocksteady sounds of the late '60s as on the more galloping ska sounds of earlier years — as exemplified by the Stubborn All-Stars and the Version City crew — and the Two Tone revivalists whose groove was harder and more soul-derived. The flagship band of the latter camp was (and remains) the Toasters, who had formed in 1981 and built a formidable reputation for themselves, as well as a boutique record label. Though ska's third wave collapsed hard in the wake of the late-1990s swing craze, the Toasters are still at work bringing the gospel of modern ska to a smaller but no less enthusiastic audience. This retrospective collection offers an excellent overview of the band's work over the past two decades, from relatively raw early fare like the Oi!-influenced "East Side Beat" and "Ska Killers" to the slightly cleaner and more carefully arranged "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down" (from the 1997 album of the same name) and the easy-skanking "Pirate Radio" (from 2002's Enemy of the System). The Toasters' tight horn charts, nicely crafted hooks and charmingly plainspoken vocals are wonderful, but it's the band's generosity of spirit and genuine love for the music that has made their music truly special for almost 25 years. Very highly recommended.

Biography

Formed: 1982

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the most important American ska bands, the Toasters did much to popularize the genre on the underground scene in the mid- to late '80s, laying the groundwork for later third wave bands like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and ska's subsequent explosion in popularity in the mid- to late '90s. British expatriate Rob "Bucket" Hingley formed the Toasters in New York City in 1982 after discovering that the 2 Tone ska he loved had made virtually no inroads into the American music scene. He gathered...
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In Retrospect, The Toasters
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