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The Toasters - Pool Shark

The Toasters - Pool Shark

The Toasters - Pool Shark

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This reissue is a fine and fitting way to help celebrate the bands 30th anniversary.


The Toasters were one of the first American bands in the so called third wave of ska and did much to popularize the genre on the underground scene there in the mid- to late '80s. Their sound is very much inspired by that of the sounds of 2-Tone but without the punky, new wave overtones and so it veers more to a traditional ska and rocksteady feel, but as you’d expect from a band that hails from the eclectic city of New York there are other subtle influences that crop up throughout their music. 

The biggest thing however you will notice about the band on hearing them is they don’t sound American which is down to the fact that front man and founding father Rob "Bucket" Hingley was born in Weymouth, Dorset in the United Kingdom.

The Toasters - Pool SharkThis reissue of “Pool Shark”, originally released in 1987, contains the same tracks as 1995’s re-titled “Skaboom!” but without messing with the originals running order, so the first 11 tracks are as the original album with the remaining 8 made up from the bands first 2 E.P’s and it has to be said that it sounds as bright and colourful now as it did then and would easily sit with new ska inspired albums released by today’s bands. Whether that is indicative of modern ska sounds not moving on much since then or that the album is a thing that transcends time is open to debate. What I will say however is it is a fairly high-octane ride from start to finish and is full of excellent sing-a-long choruses, infectious dancing beats and feel good vibes that make it just great fun to listen to. Take the albums title song I dare anyone to sit still and that can be applied to crowd favourites ‘East Side Beat’ and ‘Weekend In L.A’ as well. ‘Talk Is Cheap’ is another with a jumping vibe as lyrically Buckett takes a pop at the major music industry labels which were highly sceptical that ska would ever prove popular in the U.S. and thus forced him to create Moon Ska which went on to be the largest independent ska label in the country. ‘Toast To The Coast’ is a sultry, smoking, instrumental, with hints of the Eastern promise that seems to sit so well with ska and another instrumental the spoof special agent theme tune ‘Matt Davis’ comes straight from the school of UK band Bad Manners. ‘Naked City’ with its surfs-up guitars pays reverence to New York and admits that although life ain’t pretty we are having a ball, with original album closer ‘So Long Buck’ giving us 1minute and 15 seconds of jazzy mayhem that leaves you thinking the circus is in town.

It is with in the tomes of the last 8 tracks which pre date the others that we find the most diversification from the band. There is a rawer sound to ‘Radiation Skank’, ‘Recriminations’ and ‘Razor Cut’ due to lack of brass. There are male/female dueting vocals, some rootsy, dubby, excursions on the melodica laced ‘Run Rudy Run’ along with ‘ABC’s’ that is delivered with spoken/rapped vocals plus ‘Manipulator’ with its fairground organ that has early Madness written all over it.

As I touched on at the beginning the Toasters and the original release of “Pool Shark” has been credited for helping pave the way for fellow third wave bands like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Slackers, The Pietasters and more as well as subsequently helping to fuel the explosion in popularity of ska in the mid- to late '90s. This reissue therefore, that has been re-mastered and features the original hand drawn cover, dozens of vintage press clippings, detailed discography and never before seen photos, is a fine and fitting way to help celebrate the bands 30th anniversary and get you in the partying mood before their appearance at next years London International Ska Festival in March.

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