By Hannah Lee, The Verb Hotel
March is almost over, which means that March Madness is coming to an end! For those who aren’t basketball fans, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) March Madness is the coverage of the NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Tournament. In honor of March Madness, but with our own Verb twist, we decided to make music fans insane by hosting March Madness Weekend. We’ve dedicated this special weekend (March 22-24) to the musical artist, Madness, and other similar artists. What do all of the following artists have in common? They represent the Ska/New Wave movement!
Ska is a music genre that displays a mixture of reggae and rock pop. It combines elements of Caribbean beats with American jazz and R&B and is typically signified by its bass line. Take a listen to the following artists and see if you can point out that “walking bass line.” If you happen to be staying at the Verb this weekend, tune in to our live band playing from 9-11am on Saturday and Sunday and get groovy with us!
day 1: madness
Madness was formed in 1976 in Camden Town, London. The band has six members including: Chris Foreman, Mike Barson, Lee Thompson, Graham McPherson, Dan Woodgate, and Mark Bedford. Original members included Dikron Tulane and Chas Smash. The group went from performing in a friend’s garden, to playing regularly at the Dublin Castle. The band made their first commercial recording with “The Prince,” which they dedicated to their idol, Prince Buster. They released the song through 2 Tone Records, which was the same label as The Specials. This song made it to number 16 on the UK charts. They were soon to be picked up by a music show called Top of the Pops, which stimulated Madness’ popularity. From there, they had released their debut album called One Step Beyond. This album included a re-recording of “The Prince. Around the time of 1983, the entertainment “madness” grew tiresome for some members. Thus, it resulted in a temporary break for the band. They came back with a re-release and musical called Our House in 1992. Since then, the band has received recognition such as the Ivor Novello Award for their outstanding song collection. They are still touring to this day.
day 2: ub40
UB40 is also an English band. The group originated in Birmingham, England in 1978 and are still performing to this day. UB40 became active two years after Madness jumped into the music scene. The initial duo was Jimmy Brown, the drummer, and Ali Campbell, the guitarist. It wasn’t until others joined that they thought of making a band. Their first show was at the Hare & Hounds pub in February 1989 for a friend’s birthday party. The breakthrough moment was when they were approached by Chrissie Hynde, who gave them the opportunity to perform with The Pretenders. Their first album was released in 1980, called Signing Off, which hinted at their “signing off” on claiming unemployment benefits. This brought great success in the UK. It wasn’t until their album, Labour of Love, that they became popular in the US. Their most worldwide popular single is their ska version of “(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love WIth You.” This song was also featured in the 1993 film, Silver. These guys are still touring and making a stop in Boston on Friday, August 9th 2019. Save the date!
Fun fact: UB40 is in reference to a government issued form to claim unemployment benefits. It stands for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40.
day 3: the police
The Police is one of the more well-known artists associated with the Ska genre. The band originated in London in 1977 when Stewart Copeland and Sting exchanged phone numbers. Sting, at the time, was playing in a jazz-rock fusion band called Last Exit. Sting called out to Copeland for a jam session, which started everything. The duo soon became a trio with the joining of guitarist, Henry Padovani.
The Police is one of the first of the new-wave artists. Their sound is strongly influenced by a style of rock, which is a mixture of punk, reggae, and jazz. They’re considered one of the many leaders of the second British invasion. Their debut album, Outlandos d’Amour, was released in 1978, which came to number 6 on the UK charts. Working on this album was quite difficult for the band because they were working with a small budget, along with having no label or manager to work with. Copeland’s brother Miles heard their song “Roxanne” and was starstruck. With his help, The Police got a record deal with A&M Records and “Roxanne” was released as a single in 1978. Although its initial reception was not superior, it’s one of the most popular classic songs heard today. In 1986 the band broke up, allowing Sting to become a solo artist and grow musically. They placed a reunion tour in 2007 to mark the band’s 30th anniversary. Although The Police, as a band, is no longer together, Sting continues to perform. In fact, he will be touring starting next month. Sadly, he won’t be making it into Boston this time around.