I haven’t seen or heard The Pietasters since I caught them opening for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the Odgen Theater in Denver sometime during the summer of 1996. Back then, I was in the midst of a fairly serious obsession with third-wave ska, and I have fond memories of that show—drenched in sweat after skanking furiously for hours, and bouncing up and down in time with Dicky Barrett during a typically energetic Bosstones set. So I was intrigued when a copy of their first album in five years crossed by desk. Heavily influenced by soul-inflected early reggae and classic rocksteady, The Pietasters played it comparatively straight, at least in comparison to bands like Reel Big Fish (who were more a punk band with a horn section than a ska band) or Goldfinger (who essentially abandoned their ska influences after their second album). On All Day, the band touches the usual reference points: classic ska (“Don’t Wanna Know”), vintage rocksteady (“Late Night Call”, “Dream of You”), and, surprisingly, ‘60s garage rock (“So Long”). The ska and reggae tracks have more of an old-school soul influence than I recall from their previous work (“Change My Ways”, “Keep On Lyin’”), but it works nicely. Through it all, the keyboards of Jon Darby and Jorge Pezzimenti, and the lively horn section (Alan Mackranczy, Jeremy Roberts, and Carlos Linares) brighten the arrangements, whatever style the band plays (except for “So Long”). I’d say this album marks an impressive return to form for the band, but I’m not sure they every lost it.
// Notes from the Road
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