The Toasters @ Martini Ranch

The Toasters

Go to an online search engine and enter Toasters. The first thing that comes up is "Toasters. Lowest prices on all home appliances." Oh, well. Search a little harder, and The Toasters, America's first ska band (though their leader is of English descent) finally appears halfway down the page, even though the band has been playing tight, groove-laden riddims since 1981 and shaping a sound that endures today. In many ways, their relevance in your Google search epitomizes the plight of this multiracial Jamaican roots-based band. The Toasters are trapped between the late-1970s 2-Tone second-wave ska revival and today's more popular third-wave ska bands like Sublime with Rome, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Reel Big Fish. The Toasters, says founder Robert "Bucket" Hingley, are "the missing link between the two waves." True. When Hingley immigrated in 1979, America had not yet been fully introduced to ska, though the scene across the pond was buzzing with bands like The Specials, Madness, the English Beat, and The Selector. Working off the 2-Tone blueprint, yet adding edgier guitars and a sometimes more aggressive horn section, The Toasters pioneered an original ska style right for the American palate. Thirty years later, it still tastes great.

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