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Universal

Bim Skala Bim

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Album Review

The late 1990s saw quite a few bands combining ska and rock, and the alternative rock audience's acceptance of ska was beneficial for everyone from Reel Big Fish and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones to No Doubt. But the fusion of ska and rock didn't start with those bands; Madness and the Specials had combined the two during the punk and new wave explosions of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bim Skala Bim came along in 1983, and the American ska-punkers still had a lot to say when they recorded Universal in early 1997. From high-energy originals like "Rings of Saturn," "Red Eyes" and "Freeman" to an inspired cover of "Shaking All Over" (first recorded in the 1960s by Johnny Kid & the Pirates and later popularized by the Who), Universal is a fine example of a band that hadn't lost any of its freshness after being together for 14 years. Another high point of Universal is "Electrolux," an instrumental that recalls the instrumental surf-rock of the 1960s (a la the Ventures) without sacrificing the ska beat. Fans of ska-rock shouldn't miss this CD.

Biography

Formed: 1983 in Boston, MA

Genre: Rock

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

Bim Skala Bim was one of America's initial responses to Britain's 2-Tone movement in the early '80s. Also inspired by the Clash, UB40 and Bob Marley, the group has also become one of the longest-lasting ska groups in America and has the tightest lineup. Formed in Boston in 1983 by vocalist Dan Vitale and bassist Mark Ferranti, Bim Skala Bim's lineup has been unchanged since 1989, presently including Vitale and Ferranti plus drummer Jim Arhelger, percussionist Rick Barry, keyboard player John Cameron,...
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