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In Defense of Ska ペーパーバック – 2021/5/4
- 出版社 : Clash Books (2021/5/4)
- 発売日 : 2021/5/4
- 言語 : 英語
- ペーパーバック : 334ページ
- ISBN-10 : 1944866787
- ISBN-13 : 978-1944866785
- 寸法 : 15.24 x 1.91 x 22.86 cm
- Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: - 232,283位洋書 (の売れ筋ランキングを見る洋書)
The book is at its best when it's tracing ska's history, something that thankfully occupies the majority of its pages. Written as a mashup of a biography and an oral history, these passages shine thanks to a detached narration that's interspersed with quotes and anecdotes from a vast array of voices from different ska scenes over the decades. It's a storytelling approach that worked brilliantly in Paul Myers's 2018 book about The Kids in the Hall and in Brian Raftery's 2019 book about the movies of 1999, and it works equally brilliantly here as a storytelling style that's infinitely more interesting than a straight biographical approach.
Those historical passages are so strong, and the rest of the chapters so weak, that one can't help but wonder why the book wasn't made up entirely of these passages and presented as the history of ska. Chapters that aren't anything more than random anecdotes from the author's old ska band or spotlights of his favourite obscure nineties groups are especially weak when forced to contrast with the strong historical ones, and the shift back and forth between neutral narrator and defensively opinionated ska fanatic is consistently jarring. The history sections do a fantastic job of subtly getting across the genre's diversity already, and the author breaking the fourth wall in other chapters to explicitly beat us over the head with the same message just feels unnecessary.
It's also a shame that the history sections are organized thematically rather than chronologically --- we start with a detailed investigation into the Bay Area Ska scene of the late eighties, and then a few chapters later we go ten years back in time to New York City. Moving through ska's history from the beginning really would have helped the various scattered chapters coalesce into a connected whole. Unfortunately, the Jamaican first wave and the British 2-Tone second wave are constantly alluded to without being presented in as much detail as the reader wants. And again --- why not? It really feels like Aaron Carnes had an opportunity to write the definitive history of ska but got halfway there and just didn't have the inclination to finish.
And when you see that some of the high rollers of 2 Tone spoke to him and provided quotations, the missing historical info is especially frustrating. The cursory skimming of 2-Tone's history that we're given basically says "Here's a quick quote from each of the lead singers and guitarists from The Specials, the Selecter and the English Beat --- and that's enough about the second wave!" The surface of the Jamaican first wave is also skimmed, but it's so bare-bones that it leaves you wanting much, much more. It's research that you get the impression Carnes simply didn't want to do --- for example, the Jamaican musical style of Mento is mentioned once as one of ska's influences, but Calypso isn't. And why not? That's Ska 101. That's at the top of its Wikipedia article.
The historical bits that we actually do get in detail are excellent, though. Credit is given to so many pioneers and forgotten heroes of the third wave, and the sheer extent of ska bands that the author reached out to, quotes, and gives love to feels almost heroic in its scope. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of coverage that Operation Ivy receives, and a big smile was brought to my face by mentions of obscure groups I used to play on my college radio ska show --- bands like the wonderfully Simpsons-named I Voted For Kodos, and the random Winnipeg act Whole Lotta Milka, who did a lot of legwork in helping my show reach its quota of Canadian Content some weeks.
Some other gems hidden throughout the book are a section on skinheads and their complicated history, and a chapter dedicated to defending Reel Big Fish that's actually there as a reluctant acknowledgement on the author's part that the mainstream ska-punk of the 90s is ska that's worth listening to. I do wish that Carnes had dedicated some more pages to mainstream ska-punk, though, even if it obviously isn't his cup of tea --- it feels nitpicky to complain about specific bands not receiving a mention when it would be impossible to even come close to getting around to them all, and when the amount of obscure bands whose names ARE in print here is already staggering enough --- but at the same time, it feels almost criminal how little Catch-22 are mentioned. Their 1998 album 'Keasbey Nights' and its influence alone could warrant an entire chapter unto itself.
And although complaining about the lack of any mention of The Planet Smashers or the Kingpins feels like my Canadian bias coming into play, I legitimately can't help but wonder why the Canadian ska scene doesn't get any coverage. The American West Coast, East Coast, and Midwest all receive showcases, as does Mexico, but Ontario and Quebec are absolutely a puzzle piece that's noticeably missing.
This book is a lot of things. It's detailed, it's personal, it's frustrating, it's disorganized, it's incomplete, it's a love letter, it's fascinating, it's a mess, it's desperately in need of a copy-edit for spelling, grammar, and randomly-repeated sentences --- it's all of those things, and as imperfect as it is, I still recommend it to any and all ska fans. The first thing I'm going to do after finishing this review is dig up the old recordings of my college radio ska show and dust off my skanking shoes.
1. The book bounces between a history of ska and the author's memoirs of being in an absolutely terrible ska band. This isn't an exaggeration. Flat Planet was AWFUL. If the author wanted to write a book about his time in Flat Planet or being a roadie for Skankin' Pickle, he should've done so. But his stories distract from the rest of the book and are largely irrelevant and boring.
2. If this book had an editor, that person should be fired and should never edit another book again. This book was all over the place and totally incoherent. Maybe start with an outline next time?
3. The last 200 pages or so are incredibly boring. There are so many stories out there and so many ska bands that I'm sure the author could've written something more interesting than what he did. Really, the book should've ended with the rise of "4th Wave" ska bands. Or when ska fell out of favor big time in the music scene.
Once again, the author deserves credit for this passion project, but this was a pretty disappointing book.