Magadog's Ska, Soul, and Roots Reggae Mashup



(Moon Ska Reocrds)

It's hard to believe Magadog has been soldiering since 1992. This band (and this album in particular) recall a time in life when going to shows with a group of friends was 100-percent fun. I'm referring to cool Sunday night shows at the now-defunct Respectable Street Café Miami Beach. I guess Lost Weekend retains some of the place's original charm.

Hailing from Tampa, Magadog takes its name from the Peter Tosh tune, "Maga Dog." Usually pegged as third wave ska, Magadog shares more with soul and roots reggae outfits like Bim Skala Bim. At the forefront of Florida's own ska scene, they keep things funny. I mean, it's not a comedy album, but you'll laugh.

Take the opener, "Monkey in the Whitehouse," released during the Clinton administration, but oh-so-very applicable during the Bush years. The band's ode to eccentric behavior, "Mad Professor," is actually one of my favorite ska songs of all time. It's got a nice beat, sweet horns, good keys. And strangely, it puts me in a good mood without the aid of alcoholic beverages or single-name strippers. The follow-up is a cool reggae cover of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" and the largely instrumental "Panties in an Uproar."

"Smoke" starts with an audio clip of various members discussing the effects of ganja during a performance. One of them seems to feel that it was "excellent and felt really good and it went off very well. Oh wait, were some of the songs slow?" Guess how the song goes? It's jazzy and straight reggae-ish, but it would be a few notches higher on my registry if it was an instrumental.

The middle of the album delivers more party-oriented tracks like "Too Much Trouble," "For the Love of Money," and "Puppet Show." Next, "Video Girl" opens with the classic clip of Rick (the Prick) from the Young Ones going wild over the discovery of a VCR machine in the common room before the song gets creepy.

I always thought these ska guys got laid pretty often. But the following track, "Mystery Girl," reveals otherwise before providing an explanation with "White Boy Ska." The closer, "Free Town," has some nice percussion and horns.

This disc was recorded at Hitmakers Studio in 1994 and was released by Moon Ska Records in 1995. Engineered by Bill Mason, the personnel on this recording were Patty Mayes (saxophone), Ed Trombakian (trombone/vocals), Christian Woodall (trumpet) , Jeff Kinsman (guitar), Dave Akright (bass/percussion), Jim Pedigo (keyboards/vocals), and Ed Lowery (vocals/percussion).

Magadog has released four more albums since this self-titled disc and still perform. And its last effort, 2009's Ybor City was released on Citrus Records.

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Abel Folgar