Oh, this is quite some gem. A while back on Boing Boing, we pointed to "Bollywood for the Skeptical," a fan-built, online primer to Indian film music for the "Bo-curious," with MP3s, links, grammar, images, and a terrific tutorial.
Two months later, reader Hallie says: "In the vein of 'Bollywood for the Skeptical' created by David Boyk (a friend of ours), my roommate James has put together a great intro to ska."
It's a wonderful little site, and it includes lots of lo-res MP3s. Among them, one of the first ska songs I ever heard -- still a favorite. Sweet and Dandy, by Toots and the Maytals: Link to MP3. That song was part of the 1969 soundtrack to The Harder They Come, which I might just go buy on iTunes right now, come to think of it. I hate most the stuff that passes for ska now, so if this site helps to reclaim the genre's noble name -- well, right on.
Snip from the site:
The one thing anyone should know about ska is that it is the music of Jamaica. while the origin of the term "ska" is relatively uncertain, rest assured that the music is not principally represented by hyperactive groups of pre-teen children listening to Reel Big Fish and sometimes appearing in Capri Sun advertisements. ska is Jamaica's heritage, and more recognized types of Jamaican music (ie: reggae, rocksteady) are primordially borne of ska.
Link to "Ska for the Skeptical."
Image: Proto-ska superstar Prince Buster ("the Prophet") leading a block party in Kingston, Jamaica, back in the day. Maybe someone should put together a giant collection of fan-created, media-rich, music reference sites like this one, and the Bollywood primer, and others, and call the whole thing Funkipedia.
Update: Boing Boing reader Ryan points us to this archived NPR radio story on New York-based, 7 piece Jamaican Rocksteady Ska band, The Slackers. He says, "I make my friends who think Ska began with No Doubt and ended with Smash Mouth or Sugar Ray repent by listening to this several times a year." Link
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.