Various Artists
Forward March
Boss Sound Records

Thank god someone is going to all the trouble to put out comps these days. They are a really good way to get a sampling of a lot of folks' work without spending a whole lot of money. Plus, they're great to listen to while driving because you don't have to continually change the CD if you get tired of one group's sound. Forward March is a very, very good comp with some great songs on it. While I didn't like them all, some of them really stirred me.

The album opens up with Kingston 10's "Concordance". I have to agree with certain others here, this song is a snooze compared to their work on Primo Sonic Rhythms. The ladies' voices are great, have no doubt, but the pauses between each line coupled with the twangy guitar give it a tinny quality that sure as heck doesn't make you want to dance. Next up are the Steady Ups with "Dub Disaster". This is a pretty standard dub track, and good to listen to if you like dub, which I do. I thought the Speakeasies' followup, "Cardiac Arrest", was the best on the album as far as electronic music goes. The pounding basslines and eerie horns are a good counterbalance to the wispy, effect-laden singing. I mean that in a good way; wimpy singing was really, really appropriate for this song.
The next gem on the album is The Soul Stingers' "China Dread". This is a jumpy, fast ska/rocksteady song that isn't choppy at all. The lyrics are soulful and tell a good story. What can I say, I have to sing along with this guy every time even though it's a little too high for me. A song like this is a tough act to follow, and this may be why I'm unimpressed with General Rudie's "Rainy Days". The music is good and so is the singing but something is missing.

Track #8, the Empire All-Stars' "Alone Again" may be my favorite song of all time. This song picks me up no matter what the weather or what I have to do that day; and I think that's funny because it seems like it's supposed to be a depressing song. Sometimes happy ska songs can depress you because they're about a girlfriend leaving or a nasty fight, and in this case the opposite is true. Nothin' like a depressant to chase away the blues!

I don't want to spoil the fun of this album for you, so I'm going to stop there. There are fully ten more songs to enjoy, so pick up a copy of this record as soon as you can, as it undoubtedly has limited production numbers. You can get it through Boss Sound Records or through Bernie Garcia at Rivercidal Syndicate Records. Thank you, Jon, for sending me the album to review!




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