As the lyrics of the Madness hit One Step Beyond say - Hey you, don’t watch that, Watch this!
This is the heavy heavy monster sound, The nutsiest sound around, So if you’ve come in off the street, And you’re beginning to feel the heat, Well listen buster, You’d better to start to move your feet, To the rockin’est, rock-steady beat.
That is exactly what Iain McAfee and Paul Ross, hosts of Ska Craze on Fuse FM want from the listeners of their new show. Their love for the upbeat, feel good music is apparent and infectious and already the popularity of the show has spread far beyond the local area with texts for requests flooding in from London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Wales and Prague.
Ballymoney man Iain explained how Ska Craze came about. “I had always sent texts in with requests for Ska and I was then approached to see if I was interested in taking a slot. I talked about it last year but because I was too busy I didn’t take it any further. When we decided to hold the Skanking for Macmillan Cancer event I thought it might be a good idea to do a couple of shows to promote the event and after chatting with Paul (Ross) we decided to do a show once a month.
“We have been really surprised by the response to it. I think people like it because it’s something new and different and a lot of people like the two-tone stuff. Also the big advantage is that it can be accessed by the app or website which means its not just available to the local area.”
Ska originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, the precursor to reggae and rocksteady. By the early 1960s, Ska had migrated to become the favoured music of the British Mod movement.
Most experts split the Ska movement into three chunks: the old Jamaican scene, the UK’s very own punk-flavoured 2 Tone Ska in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, then the third phase when the genre went global, making itself heard as far afield as Europe, Australia, Japan, South America and the US and peaking in the 1990s.
Ska is now going through a revival with bands like Madness, Selector and The Beat all going on nationwide tours.
“I was at a Madness gig just over a month ago,” continued Iain. “What surprised me was the number of young folk there were there too. A lot of the the original followers have become parents and their children have grown up listening to the music. Also it came from a time when the country was in turmoil and that fuelled a lot of the music and I think that resonates with people today.”
Both Iain and Paul developed their love of Ska when they were at teenagers.
“My first memory of ska music was either the Can Can being played at our school disco or Night Boat to Cairo on the jukebox in the cafe at the outdoor swimming pool in Castlerock. I had to have it played everytime I was there. I then got my dad to buy a cassette tape of a band covering Madness songs which I still have,” said Iain. “Although I always enjoyed Ska I got into it much more in the past few years because I just can’t buy in to modern msuic.
Paul added: “For me it was when I went into Busby’s Disco on Main Street. I’m not sure what song came on and Big Doc, Wag and Sammy Skin to name a few were going mental on the floor and I have been hooked since then.
“We all had the gear and were really into the style. We had every Fred Perry polo shirt and collection of badges, bleached jeans and of course the oxbloods polished so you could see your face in them. They were great times which I wouldn’t change for the world. Ska music is just brilliant, its really happy feel good music and that’s what people love about it and it’s creeping in more and more to mainstream music at the moment.”
Iain continued: “As the members of the band Doghouse who appeared on last week’s show said ‘Three words sum up Ska - Fun, Dance, Happy.’ and that emcompasses what we want to do in our show. We want to keep it fresh and we try to get the perfect mix of Two-tone favourites, reggae and newer bands who don’t get much airtime because they are not commercial.
“Our next show is on 22nd December from 9-11pm and we have a couple of Christmas songs with a Ska/reggae vibe lined up so hopefully we will get a few more listeners join us. We play the same song to finish our shows each time simply because it sums up what we want to do with the show and that’s The Specials - Enjoy Yourself.”
n To listen to Paul and Iain’s banter on Ska Crazy tune in to FUSE FM 107.5 on Tuesday 22nd December from 9 until 11pm and you can text your requests to 07936007888.