Ska covers of songs that are not ska
February 28, 2019 6:46 AM   Subscribe

What is my guiltiest musical pleasure? Ska covers of songs from other genres. These covers are often widely acknowledged to be the cover equivalent of terrible puns - or at least widely acknowledged by my housemates - but they always cheer me up. I would like more of them.

So for example, I have an apparently unkillable fondness for both Reel Big Fish's Take On Me* and The English Beat's Tears of a Clown.

Anyway, are there more of these? Any wave of ska acceptable. Assume that I am very familiar with the English Beat, though, and have heard "Can't Get Used To Losing You".

*But the lyrics? Truly a song helped by inaudibility in the original version. "I'll be coming for your love"? "It's no better to be safe than sorry"? In your dreams, pick-up artist. "Tears of a Clown" is also sort of Nice Guy-ish and frankly if a manpain clown cries when there's no one around, does he make a noise?
posted by Frowner to Media & Arts (58 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Surely the standard here is UB40's "Red Red Wine."
posted by praemunire at 6:55 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

Don't miss out on Mefi's Own Skallelujah.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:56 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]

Mephiskapheles: bumble bee tuna
posted by rabidsegue at 7:00 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]

Less Than Jake has an entire album of cover songs from the film Grease.
posted by Aznable at 7:02 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

The Specials played a bunch of covers, including the well-known Enjoy Yourself and Pressure Drop, the less well-known Take Five, and the v wtf Maggie's Farm.
posted by box at 7:04 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]

Perfect Thyroid's cover of the theme from Hawaii 5-0
posted by alex1965 at 7:06 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

Ska covers of other genre songs was such a thing in the late 90s-early 00s that there's going to be just a tremendous wave (ha) of content around.

But, here's a place to start: Ranking all 44 of Reel Big Fish's cover songs.

And, uh, the infamous Save Ferris cover of Come on Eileen.

And here's a recent cover of Pitbull/Kesha's Timber.
posted by General Malaise at 7:20 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

Save Ferris does a pretty epic Come on Eileen
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:20 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

Do you have Spotify? There are many, many public playlists of ska covers on there. Just do a search for "ska covers" and you'll have hours/days/weeks of listening enjoyment.
posted by juniperesque at 7:21 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

I feel like the standard here is Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - although they may skew more pop-punk than ska.
posted by SeedStitch at 7:22 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

Oh I forgot one of my favorites of the era: Mustard Plug doing The Freshman
posted by General Malaise at 7:25 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

Back in the day there was a compilation album.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:27 AM on February 28

The Bruce Lee Band covers TMBG's She's an Angel.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:36 AM on February 28

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra does that.
Theme from The Godfather
Korobeiniki / Peddlers/ Tetris theme
Theme from Lupin the 3rd (vs original)
posted by sukeban at 7:36 AM on February 28

It’s my life covered by No Doubt works.
posted by seesom at 7:36 AM on February 28

The compilation "We Are Not Devo" has a lot of Ska covers of DEVO songs. Here's a YouTube playlist of the tracks.
posted by SansPoint at 7:38 AM on February 28

While not ska, Schlong's Punk Side Story is likely to cheer you up in a similar way.
posted by bdc34 at 7:38 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

I believe you mean a "skampilation." (No, really, that's a decent search term.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:39 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]

In the mood for ska

Lord Tanamo's cover of I'm In the Mood for Love is one of my all-time favorites, and it's the real thing. Nice call.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:40 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Tears of a Clown-English Beat
posted by sydnius at 7:41 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

(Oh, you guys & ladies, this makes me so happy.)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:50 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

Not sure if you consider hardcore punk to be the genre you're looking for, but if so, the Mighty Might Boss Tones' Ska-Core, The Devil, and More EP has covers of a few songs: "Think Again" by Minor Threat, "Police Beat" by SSD, and a few others.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:03 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Jeez people, I was just trying to look for the same thing the other night on Spotify. Ska and reggae cover versions, that is.

Jimmy Cliff: I can See Clearly Now
Eddie Lovette: Do that To Me One More Time
UB40: Kiss and Say Goodbye
Chaka Demus & Pliers: Twist and Shout
Toots and the Maytals: Country Road
posted by HeyAllie at 8:17 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

The Paragons' cover of The Beatles' Blackbird (titled "Blackbird Singing")

The Paragons also originally recorded The Tide is High, which Blondie made famous with their cover, so consider it a "reverse cover"?
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:23 AM on February 28

Joya Landis - Angel of the Morning (another reverse cover - there are lots of covers of this one, including the famous Juice Newton one, this is the best ska/reggae version)

Phillis Dillon - Love the One You're With

(IMO some of this drifts away from Ska, because I want that GO FEET PICKITUPPICKITUP beat, but there's a rocksteady beat, lots of horns, and no irony like the third wave and that's good enough for me)
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:35 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

Streetlight Manifesto has an album of ska covers.
posted by Candleman at 8:38 AM on February 28

Joy Division - Transmission played by Steel Harmony in Manchester, natch.
Jah Division - Dub Will Tear Us Apart
posted by cocoagirl at 8:48 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

I always love the vibe of first wave Jamaican ska, like the pop hit covers of The Paragons and Alton Ellis

The Skatelites cover the James Bond Theme

Of course, Toots & The Maytals
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 9:01 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

I believe that Yellowman also covered "Take Me Home Country Roads" in a combo with "Jamaica Nice."
posted by wenestvedt at 9:06 AM on February 28

Wait, has no one chimed in with the greatest cover of them all, Turning Japanese done by Skankin’ Pickle?!
posted by Ghidorah at 9:08 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Also, Less than Jake, Your Love

Johnny Socko did a fantastic version of Any Way You Want It live, but I don’t know that was ever recorded. It was fantastic to skank along to though.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:12 AM on February 28

I once heard a great bluebeat-style sax cover of Eno's 'Sombre Reptiles', but I can't find it on the internets at the moment.
posted by ovvl at 9:58 AM on February 28

Five Iron Frenzy's Mamma Mia definitely counts. (They also covered "Sweet Talkin' Woman", but it might be too close to the original to hit the spot for you—it's more like a straight cover of Sweet Talkin' Woman with horns.)
posted by Polycarp at 10:02 AM on February 28

somewhere buried in my cd collection is a compilation with the raddest ska punk cover of Fortunate Son you ever heard

fun fact: google doesn't know about a hell of a lot of ska compilation cds from the 90s

lemme get back to you
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:12 AM on February 28

Mento Buro Many ska covers
posted by Oyéah at 11:45 AM on February 28

Love this cover of Randy Newman's Baltimore by the Tamlins. Maybe more reggae than ska tho?
posted by j810c at 11:49 AM on February 28

I *think* The Wurzels covering Oasis' Don't Look Back in Anger might count?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:56 AM on February 28

Trojan had some amazing ska compilation box sets. Lots of cover tracks on there. I've never seen anything quite comparable in quality.
posted by Kosmob0t at 11:59 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

(People who like reggae covers of non-reggae songs might enjoy compilations like Darker than Blue: Soul from Jamdown, Doing Our Thing: More Soul from Jamdown, Hustle: Reggae Disco, Studio One Soul, and Trojan Motor City Reggae.)
posted by box at 12:27 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]

UB40 also had an excellent version of Can't Help Falling In Love With You.
posted by hanov3r at 12:36 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Here's Skameleon's cover of Wonderwall.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:27 PM on February 28

Save Ferris, Come on Eileen
posted by Hypatia at 2:16 PM on February 28

The two UB40 albums "Labour of Love" and "Labour of Love II" are called that because they are cover albums of all-time hits.

There are some awesome songs on them, especially the first one, that stand up well on their own, as well as by comparison with the originals.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:02 PM on February 28

The Wailers, who played ska style in the sixties, were aces at covers.

Like a Rolling Stone
And I Love Her

The entire One Love compilation from Studio One is worth a listen.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:44 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Listen to the Clarendonians do You Won't See Me and you'll think the Beatles covered THEM.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:55 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Does Sister Carol singing Wild Thing count?
posted by coevals at 6:15 PM on February 28

If kevinbelt's Mighty Mighty Bosstones suggestion is in the lines of what you're looking for, they also have an EP called "Where'd You Go?" which includes Sweet Emotion, Enter Sandman and Aint Talkin Bout Love.
posted by neilbert at 7:17 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]

Kate Bush has done like two covers. One was a brilliantly offbeat Ska version of Elton John’s Rocketman.
posted by djinn dandy at 8:52 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]

Easy Star All-Stars did an entire reggae/ska/dub cover of OK Computer, called Radiodread. It’s pretty good.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 12:55 AM on March 2

Wellll, aside from some songs already mentioned (...yum yum bumblebee bumblebee tuna...) apparently all the covers I thought of as ska are really more punk, like 99 Red Balloons and the Somewhere Over the Rainbow cover by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

Also, some ska band that opened for Bouncing Souls in like 1995 had a great cover of Sam Cooke's Another Saturday Night, but that seems lost to the mists of pre-Internet time.
posted by salvia at 1:32 AM on March 2

I really just assumed someone else would have posted this, it is so good. Area7, Boys Don’t Cry.
posted by bystander at 5:31 AM on June 15

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