Bim Skala Bim release first album in 8 years, ‘Sonic Tonic’ (listen)
Boston ska legends Bim Skala Bim just dropped their first album in eight years, Sonic Tonic. The band -- who still have the majority of their classic '80s/'90s lineup intact -- made the album with help from Dave Hillyard (The Slackers), Chris Rhodes (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) Nick Welsh (aka King Hammond), Ken Stewart (The Skatalites) and Steve Cracknell (The Dub Pistols), and it finds their unique ska/reggae/calypso/rock sound in fine form.
If you're unfamiliar with Bim Skala Bim, they were a crucial part of the '80s American ska scene, and played a large role in bridging the gap between the 2 Tone era and the ska-punk explosion of the '90s. They were especially influential on another particular Boston band who helped bring ska to the masses. To quote Marc Wasserman's upcoming book Ska Boom! An American Ska & Reggae Oral History, "Without Bim Skala Bim there is no Mighty Mighty Bosstones."
Here's what our resident Boston ska expert Jeff Bergstrom wrote in 2016 when Bim Skala Bim played a rare NYC show:
Bim Skala Bim were active from 1983 thorough 2002, but at the tail end of 2002 the band went on hiatus. They re-emerged in 2009 stronger than ever (and eventually brought back world-class trombonist Vinnie Nobile into the line-up) and since then they've been doing quite a bit of touring off and on. When Bim came into existence in 1983, ska was sort of splintering into two schools; on the one hand you had ska traditionalists who were keeping the Jamaican and Two Tone ska vibes alive, while on the other hand you had ska bands who were coming straight from the fertile punk scenes of the east and west coasts and creating a third wave of punkier ska. On one side you had pork pie hats and three piece suits, on the other you had mohawks and B.O.. But Bim stayed firmly rooted in a more niche element of ska that incorporated elements of reggae, calypso, and Latin sounds and although you could find me at ska core shows or Moon Records oriented traditionalist shows, I always made Bim a priority as their sound was just that unique and their musicianship that much better. And there was just something so Bostonian about how their physical appearance betrayed the type of music they'd dish out. For example, their bass player looked like he could have been in Deicide, their guitar player looked like he could have been in a grunge band, and the singer just looked like your average blue collar Joe.
The album is being released via the non profit music community project The Specialized Project. The band writes, "The Specialized Project acts as a fundraising portal for many charitable causes and projects. Since 2011 the core benefactor has been The Teenage Cancer Trust but they support a range of initiatives that support people in the areas of terminal illness and mental health."
Stream the album and watch a new video below...