Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Bucket Full of Ska From Hepcat

Hepcat on Vinyl
Hecpat Traditional Ska
The 1990’s brought out of the woodworks all sorts of ska bands. The third wave ska movement has since died off, with only the top bands still playing today. Most of them stopped playing traditional rock steady and ska, but still manage to have a following, including The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, and No Doubt, just to name a few. However, for the purists of ska music from the Jamaican tradition, there wasn’t much to be had in the third wave, but out came Hepcat and their third record continued their traditional of replicating and enhancing traditional ska motif’s. The fourth album from Hepcat was called “Push ‘N Shove” and was recorded in their hometown of Los Angeles and was released in the summer of 2000.

The music on their fourth record was somewhat derivative and was more steady and reggae, which was not the norm at the time. In fact, few people even called the release ska, and by the end of 1999, no one was listening to ska, at least not in mainstream pop culture music circles. With ska going out of fashion, and only diehard fans still talking the rude boy swagger, Hepcat’s material wasn’t as well received as their third record was, at least not in my circle of friends.

This record had a classic remake of a Brenton Wood classic “Gimme A Little Sign”, and many original songs that got two-tone fans tapping away, and new school punk fans ignoring the wager of the Los Angeles ska revivalists. Despite the innovation and rave reviews that ska enthusiasts poured on “Push ‘N Shove” the band lost it’s buzz and decided to pursue other things. The new millennium wasn’t too favorable to ska music in general, that’s for sure.

You can purchase Hepcat "Push N Shove" on cd here, or download "Push N Shove" via mp3 here, and of course, visit Essential Ska Store for more ska and reggae records.

The third record from Hepcat titled “Right on Time” was released in 1998 by Epitaph records and offered an amazing piece to the third wave ska pie. It was released at the peak of ska’s popularity in the 90’s, and found a lot more appeal than their preview two records. Regardless of the timing, it would have garnered some major head turns, as it was in fact the best of Hepcat’s offerings up to that date.

Once again, Hepcat avoided being pigeon holed as another 90’s ska group by closely resembling early ska, opposed to screaming, yelling, and trying to follow up punk rocks most popular acts at the time. One must remember that the late 90’s brought forth Greenday, Rancid, Offspring, and many more pop-punk and pop-ska bands.

While Hepcat’s other records featured a mixture of sounds and styles, this record is consistent throughout, sprinkling in what made them famous on two other records, while maintaining a good sensibility and tones. It’s definitely well recorded, and quite charming through all 13 tracks of pure ska. I suggest picking up the vinyl record version of "Right on Time", but that's just me.

Support this blog by visiting the Essential Ska Store

The Mighty Los Angeles band Hepcat has been creating traditional ska music since the late 80′s. Since releasing their debut, they have been one of those rare bands to be in the collection of both alternative and punk fans alike. Even though many people don’t revisit the band, I still like them and listen to their roots-ska releases. The band currently has two vinyl records available, at least readily, and they are highly recommended.

A Quick Hepcat Bio

Hepcat flows through a mix of Caribbean melodies, harmonies, rock steady and reggae to create a new school sound but not forgetting their Jamaican musical counterparts. They toured throughout their career, and most notably during the rise of the Warped Tour, and were even signed to Epitaph records at one point.

They have recently toured Southern California and played several shows with Flogging Molly. They continue to play spot shows in Southern California. Some of the members have gone on to play with The Aggrolites, another great reggae/punk band making noise on Hellcat records.

Now, there are two major vinyl records to get and listen to, not just to resell to foreigners on Ebay.

Hepcat Push and Shove Vinyl Record LP

1. Push ‘N Shove
2. Tek Dat
3. ‘Lude 1
4. Prison Of Love
5. The Ronnie
6. Daydreamin’
7. Comin’ On Strong
8. You And I
9. Beautiful
10. The Region
11. Gimme Little Sign
12. ‘Lude 2
13. The Spins
14. Live On

Hepcat Right On Time Vinyl Record LP

1. Right on Time
2. I Can’t Wait
3. Goodbye Street
4. The Secret
5. Pharoah’s Dreams
6. No Worries
7. Mama Used to Say
8. Rudies All Around
9. Tommy’s Song
10. Nigel
11. Together Someday
12. Baby Blues
13. Open Season…Is Closed
13+. The Secret Dub

From what I can tell, the vinyl was released on Hellcat Records, and they are not relatively rare. There might be some rare 7″ singles, and other limited pressings of their work, but these two will hold you over at a fraction of the cost.

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