Listen: Train To Skaville / The Ethiopians
Train To Skaville / The Ethiopians
Trains infatuated me as a kid. My Dad would take me to the nearby railroad yard, where we’d watch the freight trains being assembled, a work engine pushing various cars to the top of the hump, then releasing them down the hill where the switching tracks would route each onto the correct train. As they’d crash into the most recent stationary car in the chain, their hooks would couple and so on and so on. Before long, a proper freight train would materialize and eventually, a pair of main diesel engines would tug them away, beginning their journey.
This was in Minoa, NY. I believe those train yards are long gone. Disassembled during the early 70′s when train travel was pretty much exterminated in the US.
Like most kids in the 60′s, I had a few sets of Lionel trains. Actually, still do. They reside in my parent’s attic. Haven’t touched them since high school. Lionel trains were like heroin. I knew if I messed with either, I’d be whisked into serious addiction. So instead, I decided to o.d. on records.
As late as ’85, New York City’s last standing Lionel train shop was still open for business. Corinne and I were casually walking along East 23rd Street one Sunday shortly after moving to town, and there it was. A time warp. Inside, several large city/country landscape displays with trains chugging through miniature towns and mountainsides were clattering away. Behind the counter, shelves lined with Lionel’s signature cobalt blue and orange boxes, full of model train cars and engines, were stacked to the ceiling. I got the shakes. I wanted to buy everything. It was a wonderful and horrible moment all at once.
So the train fetish is real, and anytime there’s a song about trains, I’m intrigued.
The Ethiopians ‘Train To Skaville’ by most accounts, fits into the sunny day bounce typical of ska records, but I always chose to imagine it recapping a risky journey through Jamaica by night. Way more unsettling.
Listen: Hold Them / Roy Shirley with Lyn Taitt & His Band
Hold Them / Roy Shirley with Lyn Taitt & His Band
Listen: Doctor Dick / King Perry
Doctor Dick / King Perry
Thanks to The Specials and Madness, the pioneer Ska and Rock Steady labels from the 60′s began reissuing these classics in the late 70′s. With a sought after gem always gracing Side A, many times something more obscure or collectible landed on the flipside.
In the case of Island, two tracks made up Side B of all their re-releases, both the Ska/Reggae ones on the old red and white label, as well the RnB reissues on Sue.
I was reminded of all these details having stumbled on a fantastic site, 45-SLEEVES. It’s a bible for those of you who, like myself, can’t sleep when a record isn’t housed in it’s correct, time period specific company bag.