19 April 2005

The Ska-Dows - Apache

Cheapskate Records

It's almost paradoxical how the stronger defined a movement is, the more cover versions it can do.

Punk was such a shocking break from all other musics, yet it was chock full of covers of non-punk tracks. The Stranglers doing Walk On By, The Jam doing Sweet Soul Music, and The Dickies doing Paranoid, Banana Splits, Sound of Silence and, well, most of their output.

Bowie, the great pioneer, has put a cover version on most of his albums, from Nina Simone's Wild Is The Wind, through the Beach Boys' God Only Knows to Morrissey's I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday.

The late 70s ska revival stayed on home turf a bit more, with the covers generally being ska, reggae and rocksteady tracks from ten or fifteen years earlier.

But then there was this, a low budget single from London, a ska version of the Shadows classic Apache. The dark tense twangy guiar line lends itself readily to ska (think The Specials' Rat Race), and doing a reggae breakdown bridge is inspired.

The cover is a work of comic genius, Hank Marvin tied to a stratocaster totem pole.

I know nothing about the band. Were they, as the name suggests and as would be just soooo great, an exclusively Shadows-covering ska band?

With that catalogue number I'm not sure if they or anyone else ever released anything on the label. That said, there was a weird single I used to have, a song called I Like Bluebeat done by a different band on each side (Cairo and The Outline). I'm not sure, but that might've been on Cheapskate as well. Same sort of music, same era, not unlikely, but it was so long ago that my mind can no longer dredge the precise detail.

Swift, uplifting, daft, and brilliant. This record could be installed in hospitals for medical use; if it doesn't make the listener grin broadly and want to dance then they can be pronounced clinically dead.

[MP3 deleted to make way for newer ones. Sorry!]


Anonymous said...

yea this is one of the most epic songs i ever heard

dublinsax said...

The Ska-dows had 3 singles released on Cheapskate, the last being 'Skas on 45' which was released after they split up. Obviously the label saw a chance to cash in on the success of stars on 45. There is also a 12" of this record. The band actually reformed briefly in 1989 as ska threatened to become commercially popular again (with lots of good ska bands on the UK scene), I saw them pay at a ska festival around that time in Herne Bay, they were pretty good

Anonymous said...

I was their bass player, producer and conceived and arranged "Apache" I also conceived the name Ska-Dows. Our second single was a cover of "Telstar" and our album, Skad for Life, contained mostly original material apart from Apache, Mrs Walker, Bang Bang Lulu and "We gotta get out of this place" as an homage to Chas Chandler who financed the album. We split up just before its release.
I bit of trivia, the cover of Apache was drawn by Chester Kamen son of the composer Michael.

merrick said...

Steve, really glad to hear from you, and also glad to see Ska'd For Life has been issued on CD too.

However, surely no version of Apache could quite top this far-fucking-out one.

Lord AJ said...

Can anyone let me know where i can get a copy of Ska on 45 12" version?

Steve Evans said...

Sparky says: i sang sometimes with Tony & Steve in the Cock Tavern Ponders End...being a skin me and my mates met up with the Ska-dows and did a "live from the Cock Tavern" Penthouse Studios...i had a copy which i bought for about two quid i think...this was a 12" single which was taken from my mates flat about 5 yrs ago...i was asked to do a stint when they went to other pubs in london...maybe a couple of times...and got to keep hold of Tony's Trilby for a while....hey ho we gotta go!!!

Unknown said...

This is Tony Sibthorpe, singer of the Skadows, nice to see all of these positive comments, especially Sparky, I remember all of you nutters at the Cock, good times(I would like the trilby back though).
Do you remember the Shitheads, i'm still in touch with Dave Stone.
As for AJ, I would like to have a copy of Skas on 45 as I didnt ever keep a copy.
Steve Morley.... come on mate, you're making it sound like it was all you, if it wasnt for me and Andy...well!

Anonymous said...

there is a second album called
ska'd for life the lost years