“Pressure Drop,” by Toots and the MaytalsToots and the Maytals are the gold standard of old school ska. Everything they do is dancetastic. This is, for sure, one of the top 10 all time ska songs ever. EVER.
“Israelites,” by Desmond DekkerSpeaking of top ska songs for ever and ever, Dekker's version of “Israelites” is a working-class narrative for the ages, and a dang fine sing-along.
“On My Radio,” by The SelecterThis first time I heard “On My Radio” was in my good pal Punk Rock Jana's bedroom. It was a complete WTF moment. Pauline Black's voice is otherworldly.
“Rude and Reckless,” by The SlackersOff the album “Redlight,” this tune is a mellow jab at normal living. It asks you, “Who the hell you wanna be? Eh? You wanna go after those dreams?”
“A Message to You Rudy,” by The Specials“Better think of your future,” is the thrust of this song, and heck if we don't all need that reminder now and again. Plus, 1980s, lead singer Terry Hall was hot AF.
“Things are Gonna Get Better,” by Deals Gone BadThis Chicago ska band slays the live show, every time. And always, when I'm in my car and the windows are down and this song is on, the world feels OK for five minutes.
“Beautiful Girl,” by The GadjitsIf you haven't heard the Hellcat Records first compilation “Give 'Em the Boot,” you gotta. It's where I first came across The Gadjits. They were a high-energy, hella clever revival ska band.
“Latin Goes Ska,” by The Skatalites Hail Eris and all that is chaotically holy, this song, THIS SONG! It's so GOOD. It's an instrumental that could fit a perfect 1950s neighborhood, or some equally “Twilight Zone” scenario. So dang lovely to make coffee to in the morning.