One of my favorite chapters in Aaron Carnes’ book In Defense of Ska dealt with the bands with secret ska pasts. For some artists, their history writing ska or ska-influenced music is one of shame; something they’ve hidden from their new fans.
And one group I learned about having a secret ska past was Tears for Fears, as the two lead members of that band were formerly members of 80’s mod/new wave group Graduate, who had a minor hit with their first single “Elvis Should Play Ska”. A light jab at Elvis Costello, after the famous rocker took a swipe at the genre, the track is filled with the up-strummed chords, a spiky guitar solo and some fantastic drumming. No horns, but the track is so bouncy and catchy they aren’t really needed.
It should be noted that this is the only “ska” song on the album, but don’t let that keep you from listening to the whole thing. It’s a really solid collection of mod/new wave pop, with great vocals and solid production work. Heck, it’s not too distant from Elvis Costello’s excellent early work.
Give a listen to “Elvis Should Play Ska“, and if you enjoy it, listen to the rest of the album!