10 Best Ska Bands

Looking for the 10 best ska bands? Ska began in Jamaica in the late fifties and early sixties, a horn-laded island response to American R&B that spawned a number of subsequent styles, including rocksteady, reggae, and dancehall. From Jamaica to New York, London to Los Angeles, the 10 best ska bands know no geographical or musical boundaries. Here are the 10 best ska bands of all time.

  1. The Specials. The second wave of ska was pioneered by British group the Specials, who recorded for the Two-Tone label. This Two-Tone sound was a racially-unified version of punk party music meant for revolution as well as dancing. To this day, their enthusiasm has never been matched; they top the list of the 10 best ska bands of all time.
  2. The Skatalites. The godfathers of the ska sound were the backing band for hundreds of Jamaican hits. From the skank of their guitar sound to their lovely horn section interplay, they defined the sound of ska in the beginning. They definitely deserve a place on any list of the best ska bands of all time.
  3. The English Beat. Another English, Two-Tone era band, the Beat brought even more post-punk and pop into their sound, creating a unique hybrid music. Their hit "Mirror in the Bathroom" is a paranoid classic. That song alone earns them a spot on the list of the 10 best ska bands of all time.
  4. Madness. The most British of the Two-Tone bands was Madness. They turned ska into a British music hall spectacle, and their lyrics critiqued British society of the time with anger and humor.
  5. Toots & the Maytals. One of the original ska vocal groups, this Jamaican bunch made some of the most soulful music ever in any genre. Their classic "Pressure Drop" was covered by the Specials, another on the list of the 10 best ska bands of all time.
  6. The Slackers. These third-wave traditionalists added New York grit to their skanking sound. Still playing today, they are favorites around the world, and have earned their spot on the list of the best ska bands of all time.
  7. Hepcat. Los Angeles traditional ska purveyors Hepcat provided some of the most authentic, vocally sound ska of the nineties. One of their vocalists, Alex Desert, also starred, as an actor, in "Swingers."
  8. Operation Ivy. The kings of ska punk added a new edge to ska. Though they only recorded one album, their influence lives on in the heart of every teenager with a checkered pin on his or her hoodie.
  9. The Toasters. The longest-running American ska band is a fan favorite around the world. Their sound mixes British Two-Tone, Jamaican trad, and American rock and roll to create a sound that makes them unique on the list of the 10 best ska bands of all time.
  10. Fishbone. One of the most eclectic bands in history, Los Angeles' Fishbone are one of the world's most renowned live acts. Their ska hit "Party At Ground Zero" was an early MTV smash and helped to earn them the final spot on the list of the 10 best ska bands of all time.
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