Trembling Earth (F&J Records)
Scotland has long had a strong ska tradition, with many bands emerging from the northern nation in the years since the 2-Tone era. Trembling Earth brings the best of the (more-or-less) current crop together in a stomping collection of 33 tracks from 16 bands, giving a double album that rarely hits a misbeat. From well-known acts such as The Amphetameanies, Bombskare and Capone and the Bullets, through up and coming bands Esperanza and Big Fat Panda to relative unknowns The Cherry Reds and the wonderfully named Victorian Trout Conspiracy, a wide variety of takes on the offbeat are present. The highlights generally come from the name acts, although Teddy Cut A Dash from Urang Matang and Sea Bass Kids’ Ginger Stare are both worth a special mention here as examples of how you don’t have to be a name band to put out good music. As expected with Scottish ska, there’s a huge dollop of good humour and tale telling through the songs, all built around a variety of ska styles from the 2-Tone of the ’Meanies through a more modern sound from Root System, to indie/ska hybrid Bis, to the gloriously obscenity-loaded Joe Viterbo, whose I F***** Telt You could only have been recorded by a Scot. For me, this is one of the best ‘themed’ compilations I’ve heard in a long, long time – perhaps since the days of the Do the Dog compilations – and is pretty much an essential purchase to my mind.