Capone and the Bullets brought their scintillating ska to the London International Ska Festival on 31st March. Simultaneously, they brought us their second album (twenty years after the first!), ‘This Is Fusion’. I love the cover, it depicts the scientific diagram of nuclear fusion, but where the deuterium and tritium atoms are blues, jazz, ska, bluegrass, folk and spiritual music, fusing at the centre and resulting in the energy of punk, reggae, dub, ska and rocksteady (instead of helium and neutron isotopes). Time + Music³ = Fusion, pretty cool!
The first track ‘Freedom Train part 1’ kicks off with eerie fairground ska and a sound that is like a mash of the psychedelia of Fishbone and the original vibes of the Skatalites. Traditionally instrumental, but too eclectic to get tedious at any point, as you sometimes find with some long overblown ska instrumentals a’la Dave Hillyard’s “prog-steady” stuff.
Mr.Untouchable has a huge Specials-esque lilt. The guitar is interesting, as it’s not limited to the usual three-chord ska technique but goes off on wonderfully progressive solos of its own.
A mellower pace for ‘Detective’, another instrumental, before launching into a crazy slice of sedulously-delivered, SKAttabrained, sinuous skanking, that twists and coils with ‘Cruel To Be Kind’. The guitar is always being quite adventurous and adding some quirky sound effects as in ‘There’s A Light…’. ‘Hypocrite’ has some progressive twists and turns around the racing track, with a stomping beat and an uplifting, unzymotic rhythm.
‘Love Story’ is a good ska-punk song, that sounds like it would be amazing live with its thundering deliverance and punk rock vocals. While ‘Corner of my Eye’ is a quixotic ska ballad with a quantulum of quirky sound that meanders through a multifarious menagerie of mercurial melodies. Some great lyricism in ‘Good Times’ and some poppy keyboard offset by some nice dirgy trumpet a’la Mad Caddies.
I’ve listened to pretty much all the ska there is in the world, and after twenty years of listening, it starts to get a bit samey, but that’s just caused by my own over-indulgence, as I have always tended to binge on music like most insomniacs binge on Netfilx boxsets. The album doesn’t have quite as much fusion as advertised, as far as fusion goes it’s basically haggis pakora. But there is a phantasmagoria of ska styles and a tiny peppering of punk with a dash of psychedelia. Great as an introduction to ska, and a must-have for any enthusiast of the genre still immersed in its tropical waters. Capone & The Bullets are also an energetic live experience, as good as anyone in Glasgow (and there are a lot of good live acts in Glasgow!). The Bullets sound a lot like The Specials, who sound a lot like Prince Buster, but why change a good thing that works? If you’ve listened to every ska band on the planet, this album won’t be so new to you, but for the other 99% of the population, it’s definitely worth a listen and a steal at £7.99!
"This Is Fusion": available worldwide.
https://www.claromusica.com/album/4604299 (South America)
http://www.kkbox.com/…/…/d.IdQtpqY.gJm0F1y.U9009H-index.html (Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia,Singapore, Taiwan)