The Mighty Mighty Bosstones coined the term "ska-core" to describe their sound, a blend of the 1980s hardcore movement and England’s 2-Tone craze. Although initially unable to build a strong following within either the punk or ska cultures, the band’s high energy approach and willingness to experiment with the ska-core formula left them poised on the verge of superstardom by the late 1990s.
The group, initially called the Bosstones, evolved out of a Boston-based ska revival band, the Cheap Skates, in the mid-1980s. Although the Bosstones contributed tracks to at least two different ska compilations in the late 1980s, their debut album, Devil’s Night Out (Taang! 044; reissued May 1998)—comprised of ska music filtered through a postpunk perspective—was not released until 1990. With the major 2-Tone acts—most notably, Madness, the Specials, Selector, and the English Beat—having disbanded, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (the name decided on after finding that a 1950s Boston band been called the Bosstones) assumed leadership of the moribund ska scene almost by default. Not content to recycle timeworn bluebeat conventions, the band’s early 1990s releases—Where’d You Go EP (Taang! 048; 1991; reissued May 1998), More Noise and Other Disturbances (Taang! 060; 1992; reissued May 1998), Skacore, the Devil and More (Mercury 514551; 1993), and Don’t Know How to Party (Mercury 514836; 1993)—applied a hardcore-metal-rocksteady fusion to an inspired mix of new and old (e.g., Aerosmith, Bob Marley, Metallica, Minor Threat, Van Halen) material.
The next LP, Question the Answers (Mercury 522845; 1994; #138), represented an artistic breakthrough, featuring the production work of the Philadelphia-based Butcher Brothers (who’d previously worked with Aerosmith, Cypress Hill, and Urge Overkill), Kolderie (Hole, Radiohead), and Westwood One sound engineer, Ross Humphrey. MTV video clips, a guest spot in the hit film Clueless (1995), and headliner status for the 1995 Lollapalooza tour helped assure the band’s commercial success as well. Let’s Face It (Mercury 534472; 1997; #27) was even better, due largely to improved songwriting, while Live from the Middle East (Big Rig/Mercury 558900; 1998; #144) revealed that the Bosstones were still capable of generating raw excitement in performance.
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