- Mark Edmundson
- 11 December 2008
Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Thu 11 Dec; The Arches, Glasgow, Sat 13 Dec
Well, you could hardly propose a less festive gig, but ska pioneers The Skatalites make their triumphant return to Scottish shores this month for another round of spot-the-founding-member. There ought to be three, namely Lloyd Knibb, whose drumming style was instrumental in the form of the ska sound, Lester ‘Ska’ Sterling on trumpet and saxophone, and original vocalist Doreen Shuffer. These three veterans helped to make up the nine-strong pioneering brass super-group that heralded huge influence on the development of Jamaican music and played with every notable reggae artist of the early 60s, from Bob Marley to Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff to Toots and the Maytals. Thus they can lay claim to a staggering number of original riddims, despite the Alpha Boys School alumni disbanding after little more than a year amid clashing egos and the incarceration of troubled genius Don Drummond.
The current line-up, reformed in 1983, may now lament the loss of legends Tommy McCook, Jackie Mittoo and Rolando Alphonso but their ranks have consistently been replenished with notable talent, not least in saxophonist and flautist Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks, and can guarantee an evening of positive vibes and skanking good sounds.
The Skatalites also remain one of the few outfits that can claim to have been culpable for an audience member having literally danced herself to death. Let’s hope they’ve brushed up on their carols.