Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Ska’s resurgence and incorporation by Top 40 bands like Smash Mouth and No Doubt have created a demand for original Jamaican ska, like the 21 tracks on this latest Heartbeat compilation, Ska After Ska After Ska. With ska albums getting snapped up like mad, record companies like Heartbeatseeing easy profitsare opening their vaults and reintroducing old material (most notably last year’s Skatalites double CD, Foundation Ska). But the downside is that they’re also dishing up dubious collections like this one, whose raison d’être is that all of the songs are produced by Duke Reid. Some are bona fide hits, like Justin Hinds’ “Carry Go, Bring Come” (which also resurfaced on the “Last Days of Disco” soundtrack) and the Techniques’ “When You Are Wrong.” But much of it is material that’s already available elsewhere, alternate takes of songs that don’t demand alternate takes, or out-and-out garbage, like “Duke Reid Speaks”literally seven seconds of Reid mumbling to himself (and providing a rare instance where I’d actually prefer Gwen Stefani to Duke Reid). The tunes are consistently good and often feature exuberant horn solos. Heartbeat’s typically stellar liner notes offer up more than you’d want to know about Reid. But there’s ultimately no reason for this hodgepodge, aside from making the label a quick buck. That sort of behavior is uncharacteristic of Heartbeat Recordsyou’d be better served to hold out for something they’ve put their heart into. Joshua Green