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The ska/bluebeat revival was a retro movement concerned with recapturing the musical qualities of the 1960s Jamaican genre from a modern social and fashion perspective. The first wave emerged in Great Britain during the late 1970s. The relocation of Caribbean natives to the London area provided the initial impetus for this revived interest in ska; however, skinheads and punks also became fans of the genre. Many oi and punk groups would go on to make ska-styled records by the early 1980s.

The movement extended far beyond mere musical considerations. Like the mods and rockers who had preceded them, ska enthusiasts developed their own fashion statements. Clothing of choice included black-and-white checkered suits, skinny ties, and porkpie hats. Because the central message of ska revival songs was often one of racial unity, fans tended to exhibit a far greater degree of racial tolerance than was typically found in British society.

Although ska music could be found in major British markets throughout the 1980s, it was no longer a force within the pop music mainstream. The sole exception was the watered-down, albeit highly popular, interpretations of the genre recorded by he likes of UB40.

The second wave, which arose in the late 1980s, featured a large number of American bands, including the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Pietasters. Whereas the first wave of ska artists were primarily promoted through televised video clips, the latter day bands found that alternative rock radio stations were very receptive to playing their recordings. As a result, these acts have succeeded in sustaining their careers far beyond mere fad proportions.


Top Artists and Their Recordings

The English Beat-I Just Can't Stop It (1980); Wha'ppen (1981); Special Beat Service (1982); What Is Beat? (1983)

Fun Boy Three--The Fun Boy Three (1982); Waiting (1983)

General Public--...All the Rage (1984); Hand to Mouth (1985)

Madness--One Step Beyond (1979); Absolutely (1980); Madness (1983); Keep Moving (1984); Mad Not Mad (1985)

The Selector--Too Much Pressure (1980); Celebrate the Bullet (1981)

The Specials--The Specials (1979); In the Studio (1984)