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Everything Off-Beat Volume 2

Various

Jump Up!

Once again, Jump Up! has assembled a low-dough ($5 postpaid!) collection of some of the best and brightest on the Midwest ska scene. Like the first release, Everything Off-Beat Vol. 2 is a benefit for the long-running radio show of the same name, hosted by Jump Up! label head Chuck Wren -- a cause well-worth the paltry retail price. What's even more exciting, though, is the line-up of bands on the comp -- there's some really great stuff here!

   Highlights include wonderful contributions from such well-known bands as Deals Gone Bad, the ever-amazing Adjusters, and Greenhouse (with "Jitterbug," a fantastic cover of Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"), but even more interesting is a crop of new bands that I hadn't heard of yet, but will certainly be watching out for. Bands like the swingy Situation Normal (with their catchy "A-Oh"), the rootsy Danny Dan & the Revalation Rockers (with the soulful "Closer Fire Burn"), and the poppy Small Mediums at Large (with the apty-named "50's Song"), all made extremely favorable first impressions, and I also really dug tracks from Run For Yer Life, Racecar, Four on the Floor, and the Shuttlecocks.

   Yeah, there's stuff I didn't care for on here, too. I still hate the Blue Meanies (their track sounds like a poor attempt at grafting Mephiskaphes' "Saba" onto the Violent Femmes' "Please, Please, Please Do Not Go" -- it's as scary as it sounds) and I never could see what anyone else sees in Skapone. I can also do without the stuff that falls into the old Midwest ska stereotype of weak, out of tune horns and sloppy execution (skip 1072 With a Push, the Cibaphones, and the Dolemites to avoid this type of stuff), but the hits far outweigh the misses on this record, and you get well more than a full album's worth of good stuff for your $5. Everything Off-Beat Vol. 2 is well worth the asking price. Better yet, take advantage of the special I saw on Jump Up!'s slick new Web site, and pick up both volumes for $8! It's a great bargain for a great cause!

Jump Up! Records, P.O. Box 13189, Chicago, IL 60613; http://www.jumpuprecords.com

--Julio Diaz