Song of the Day: The Israelites - Israelite Train

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The 1990s saw a huge revival of ska music–that funky fusion of reggae and punk, or so it seemed at the time. The real history of ska was much deeper than that. Unbeknownst to the general populace, ska actually pre-dates reggae, going back to at least the 1960s. It fused traditional calypso beats with horns and sounds gleaned from New Orleans jazz. Reggae emerged in the 70s, as tempos slowed down and the overall feel became more relaxed. In the 1980s, amidst emigration from the Caribbean to England, ska mixed with punk and/or new wave to create the “Two-tone” scene, a sign of racial integration amongst working class punks and skinheads represented with the ever-present black and white checkerboard imagery. With the emergence of punk revival and pop-punk in the 90s, it was only natural for ska-core and ska-punk (or “skunk”) to evolve.

As such most Christian ska bands of the era focused on this third wave of ska. Stylistically, the main exception to the rule was The Israelites, who played traditional ska, in the style of the first wave from the 1960s. The band wrote praise songs in the style (also not uncommon for the original wave of the Jamaican genre), and even toyed with traditional hymns, like on “Israelite Train,” itself a re-working of the Negro spiritual “This Train.”

I’ve always said it’s hard not to be happy when listening to ska and reggae. I hope this tune has the same effect for you!

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