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Might Mighty Bosstones give us an EP, for everyone

Ska-Core, the Devil and More
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
Mercury Records.

By Douglas D. Keller

Ska-Core, the Devil and More is The Mighty-Mighty Bosstones' longest record to date and its first EP on its new label, Mercury Records. Yes, this EP has only seven tracks, but it is a full 20 minutes longer than the Bosstones' two full-length albums Devil's Night Out and More Noise & Other Disturbances.

Ska-Core contains one new track, "Someday I Suppose," plus four covers, and several live tracks recorded at Avalon last December. "Someday I Suppose" continues the Bosstones' tradition of mixing punk, thrash, ska, soul, funk, and anything else they can lay their hands on into a ballad about lost love. The EP pays tribute to the Bosstones' heavy metal influences through three covers: the Angry Samoans' "Lights Out," Minor Threat's "Think Again," and SSDecontrol's "Police Beat." All three together last about four minutes as the Bosstones pound through the numbers like a freight train hurtling off a cliff.

The fifth track is a cover of Bob Marley and the Wailers' 1963 "Simmer Down." While the previous tracks showcased the Bosstones' ability to get down and grungy, "Simmer Down" pays tribute to their ska roots with the "Hurtin' for Certain" horn line of Dennis Brockenburgh (trombone), Kevin Lenear (saxophone), and harmonic backing vocals. But cutting through the ska is singer Dicky Barrett's distinctive voice, which he attributes to Marlboro cigarettes and Jamison whiskey.

The real treat of Ska-Core is the two live tracks. The first is "Drugs and Kittens," which originally appeared on Devil's Night Out as "Drunks and Children." The second is "I'll Drink to That," which first appeared on More Noise & Other Disturbances and is faithfully reproduced in adrenaline-heightened form.

Accounting for the long length of the release is a bonus track which appears after a 30 minute blank space following "I'll Drink to That." The last track is a live version of "HowWhyWuz, HowWhyYam" from Devil's Night Out, recorded the same night at Avalon.

Ska-Core, the Devil and More is a must-buy for everyone, not just Bosstones fans. The EP provides a good flavor of the Bosstones' repertoire, demonstrating adeptness at ska and heavy metal while showcasing the group's unique live performance style. It also indicates that more surprises are on the way from this energetic band. Ska-core was created by the Bosstones but from this EP it is evident that there is still more flesh to be applied to the ska-core skeleton. The Bosstones' first full-length album on Mercury will be in stores May 18, but at this time it is not clear whether the full-length album will be longer that the Ska-Core EP.