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Successfools 20 Years Jubilee Edition

No Sports

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Album Review

This popular German group were inspired, like many third wave ska bands, by Two Tone. But unlike most, No Sports weren't content to merely re-create that style at hyperspeed, nor cross it with another genre all together, nor even follow it further back into Jamaica's musical past. No, instead what this octet have done is carefully nurtured Two Tone, allowing it to spread out organically in a multitude of directions. This is evident from the opening track "Summer," a holiday in hell tale worthy of the Specials, and just as adamant in its syncopated beats. Yet the arrangement splashes giddily into new wave, even as guitarist D. Mark Dollar offers an homage to Ernest Ranglin and the soloing saxophonist offers his own tribute to Dean Fraser. The title track, in contrast, with scything rhythm guitar and downbeat brass to the fore, leaves the beaches behind to visit America's urban centers, as the band slip subtly into funk, while delivering up the number's stark lyrics in rap fashion. "Skamachine" pays tribute to James Brown, sending in the Sexmachine's soundalike G.A.W. to "get on up and get on down" with the band at their funkiest.

Track 11 (it's at this point that the album's track listing begins omitting titles), has a funky tinge, but is also highly reminiscent of the the Rednex hillbilly club hit "Cotton Eye Joe," set to a ska beat of course, and predating it by three years. Elsewhere, the group pay tribute to Augustus Pablo's Far East sound, toss in a splash of calypso, tip their pork pie hats to the Skatalites, and show off their one drop rhythm and reggae riffing, and on "No Time," a song as hectic as its title, deliver up a perfect piece of checker-boarded ska. But, it's their expansive (English) lyrics that set them even further apart from the rest of the third wave pack. Whether goofy "Pink Spaceman" or serious "Successfools," the group pen vivid vignettes, potent slices of life, and anthemic singalongs.

For their grand finale, the Sporters step on-stage and bound through "Stay Rude, Stay Rebel" and "King Kong" before an enthusiastic crowd. That illustrates their live power, while Successfools, with its exceptional songs, unique sound, and thought-provoking lyrics, definitively answers why this group is such a force in the European ska scene.

Customer Reviews

One of the best German ska albums from the 3rd Wave

In the 80s and 90s, Germany produced a remarkable number of ska bands. Many of them were mediocre or derivative at best. A few, like No Sports on Successfools, trascended the limitations of the ska genre to produce truly unique and catchy music. The album's standout tracks include No Time, Radio, and Five, but the entire album comes together as a slick and cohesive whole. Sadly, neither their earlier nor their later albums quite lived up to Successfools. But taken on its own, Successfools stands as one of Germany's very best contributions to 3rd Wave ska.

Successfools 20 Years Jubilee Edition, No Sports
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