Electric guitarists have played a critical role in the evolution of several contemporary musical styles, most notably rock, R&B, jazz and blues. These styles have maintained a prominent position in the public ear for decades, particularly in the United States and England. While these forms of modern music were spreading like wildfire in the US and abroad, another musical style - one which was also indebted to contributions made by electric guitarists - was brewing just above the equator in Kingston, Jamaica. This style became known as ska, a slaphappy mix of of Jamaican rhythms and western R&B that typically features electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and an extensive horn section. Since the sixties, ska has enjoyed success in different time periods and locations. After its development in Jamaica in the early sixties, ska resurfaced in England in the seventies, and later had a massive impact on the music scene in Southern California. This book is a comprehensive guide to the stylistic elements inherent to each generation of ska - everything from its characteristic rhythms, chord voicings and progressions, to its effects, single-note riffs and lead phrases is examined in depth. Guitar tab and standard notation.
If your'e looking for a book on Ska Guitar then you have very little choice at the moment. Take heart though that the one book available is overall a well written and well thought out one.
As the author is American I guess we can forgive his geographical ignorance when talking about bands from the late 70's Ska scene in the U.K.
Old fans like me know that Madness were a London band and that most of The Beat hailed from Handsworth in Brum.
All that's irrelevant to how they played guitar though and the author does highlight the Ska rythms and 'skinny' 4 string chords that were prevalent. It is a shame that he did not elaborate more on the indivdual styles etc as The Beat's Andy Cox's muted arpeggiated lines set them apart in my eyes/ears. His listening advice for U.K Ska is somewhat odd as The Beats' best and most Ska l.p. 'I just can't stop it' is overlooked for a later less skanking record. We must accept and excuse the authors lack of info. on U.K Ska down to his natural bias towards U.S. acts like No Doubt and The mighty mighty boss tones. Perhaps if he updates this book he will rectify these omissions especially as bans such as The Beat have at least in part, reformed and are playing live again.
The chord diagrams in this book are very clear indeed as is almost all of the tab and accompanying text. The only head scratching part is when explaining arpeggiated chords as the fret numbers appear not to match the open postion ofthe chord in question. In truth he is probably assuming a greater level of understanding there than I have, and maybe he's right to?
I have not read any Reggae guitar books to compare, as much would apply to Ska but would at this price nevertheless recommend this wholeheartedly. Ska is still popular in Europe and so a chapter on their somewhat oompah sounding high speed Ska (similar to the yanks then?) would make the book more inclusive still. By the way the skinny chords detailed here are also great for funk so if Ska's not you do not be put off.
This book is good enough that all I really want is more of it!
rob lee - (essex)