author of skabadip.it and singer at The Smarts
1. The Beat feat. Ranking Rogers, “Public Confidential”
2. The Aggrolites, “Reggae Now!”
3. Eastern Standard Time, “Time for Change”
4. King Zepha, “Northern Sound”
5. Gary Marshall, “The Awakening”
6. Mark Foggo’s Skasters, “Ska Pig Returns!”
7. Prince Fatty, “In the Vipers Shadow”
8. North East Ska Jazz Orchestra, self titled
9. Vin Gordon, “African Shores”
10. The Specials, “Encore”
2019 was an excellent year for the music I love. There have been really many releases of very interesting records, so many that even for an old “ska man” like me it becomes difficult to follow them all. And then I’d tried to speak only of those that I felt the duty to buy.
1.What can I say? Nostalgia? Affection for one of the characters of the Two Tone era that I liked the most and hce left too soon? It doesn’t matter, Ranking Rogers has left us the most beautiful album of The Beat in a long time and one of the most beautiful of 2019.
2.When you follow a band from the first album and every new job is even better than the one that precedes it, you remain faithful fans without compromise. The Aggrolites may not have been the first to offer 1968-style early reggae but they are undoubtedly the best and I really get crazy for track like just for example “Jack Pot”.
3.EST are also a band that I have always followed because they are one of the best Ska Jazz realities with capital letters and Time For Change is the confirmation of my assertion. The title track, “Lovely in Mad” and the gorgeous version of “Change is Gonna Come” are the best offers.
4.Every year I discover new bands, and it doesn’t mean that the band (or the artist) is actually “new”, it’s just that, as I said when introducing my top ten, I find it difficult to follow all the good music that is actually published and King Zepha is the classic example, “Northern Sound” is a beautiful record of true, pure and classy rocksteady. One of my best purchases of 2019.
5.One of the most beautiful concerts I have seen in the last ten years has been that of the Hotknives in original formation at the 2011 Ska Festival in London. Perhaps because it was the first time that I saw them live, perhaps because I love them deeply. So, obviously I could not miss the solo album by Gary Marshall which in my humble opinion is not only the Voice, but also the “color” of that band. Colors and atmospheres that I found in “the Awakening”. I love it.
6.Mark Foggo, I will continue to say it up to boredom, is the nicest, happiest, funniest artist in the world of ska. I think that somewhere he keeps hidden a painting that ages in his place, so much is the energy of his concerts. The return of the Ska Pig is not at the level of his other masterpieces, but when you want a ska “hammer” with catchy melodies to dance to, you can only turn to him.
7.Prince Fatty is in my opinion one of the best reggae artists in the world, always in my opinion he has never failed one, neither in production, nor in collaboration with the greatest artists of our musical genre and “In the Vipers Shadow”, despite being a record made of reinterpretations, it is the most beautiful reggae album of 2019. That’s it.
8.I can swear it’s not parochialism, but I didn’t put NESJO in my top ten just because they are the only Italian outfit in the list, I did it because they are really good and they are one of the best ska jazz formations around. I am very happy to have been able to choose them for my top ten.
9.The last of the great Jamaican trombonists does not deserve the top ten just because he is a myth, but because he has brought out a beautiful album, with great timeless themes, the rhythms that I love and a truly roots feeling that I really appreciate.
10)There are only three songs that I love on “Encore”, but an old fan like me who got sick for ska with the Two Tone bands must include the Specials in the top ten.
About Sergio Rallo
Sergio “Da Prophet” Rallo is a Milanese lawyer and French boxing instructor who has been loving ska music since the late 1980s, was the singer of the Milanese group The SmartS for eight years and collaborated for many other years on the first website dedicated to ska ever made in Italy www.skabadip.com and then personally carrying it out for another three years as www.skabadip.it. Passionate about all Jamaican music of all ages and ska in particular, he had the honor of meeting and interviewing the main exponents of the music and still tries to never miss a concert during which he dances from start to finish until the last drop of sweat. Music is beneficial for the soul and body.