Books — August 2, 2021 at 7:55 am

New oral history ‘Ska Boom!’ chronicles the rise of American ska and reggae

Marc Wasserman — bassist, podcaster and author of the definitive ska and reggae blog Marco on the Bass — has just published an epic oral history that chronicles the rise of the uniquely American strains of ska and reggae through the ’80s and into the ’90s.

Wasserman’s 400-page book “Ska Boom! An American Ska & Reggae Oral History” was published just last week and can be ordered online directly from DiWulf Publishing House.

The book features a forward by Horace Panter, bassist for 2 Tone legends The Specials, and is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with managers, promoters, writers, fans and musicians — including members of The Untouchables, The Toasters, The Uptones, Mephiskapheles and more.

From the book’s promotional material:

“From the story of The Shakers, the first American reggae band signed to a major label deal by David Geffen, to the spreading wildfire of inspiration that was seeing The Specials on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1980, to the mighty Skavoovee Tour of 1993 that helped give rise to the third wave of ska, Marc collects hundreds of stories, anecdotes, history, gossip and (most importantly) the feeling of what it was like as groups of young, ska-crazed acolytes spread their passion from Boston to New York and from Chicago to Los Angeles while igniting a fiercely loyal dedication to a burgeoning culture inspired by Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae, and British 2 Tone and mod sounds. The fashion, the feeling, the exciting days of true, DIY independence… Marc captures it all in this exciting, funny, intimate and informative tome.

Wasserman comes at the subject with deep expertise, having discovered New York City’s ska scene in the mid-’80s before picking up the bass and co-founding the ska band Bigger Thomas in the late ’80s, performing over the next two decades with Special Beat, The Selecter, Bad Manners, The Skatalites, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear and more.

More recently, Wasserman started the Marco on the Bass blog and co-founded the band Rude Boy George, performing ska and reggae covers of ’80s new wave and post-punk songs.

In April, he launched an excellent podcast companion to “Ska Boom,” telling some of the book’s stories and sharing his own memories of the scene in weekly installments.

Check out the podcast below.





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *