Personnel: Rhoda Dakar (vocals); Lynval Golding, Lenny Bignell (guitar); Karl Wirrmann (saxophone); Sean Flowerdew (keyboards); Mark Claydon (drums).
Liner Note Author: Rhoda Dakar.
Recording information: Soup.
The Bodysnatchers were part of the U.K. ska explosion at the dawn of the '80s that went mass with the success of the Specials. The Bodysnatchers, one of very few all-female acts on the scene, were a solid band in the right place at the right time -- within a year, they signed with the Specials' 2-Tone Records label, toured with the Specials and the Selecter, charted two singles ("Let's Do Rocksteady" and "Easy Life"), appeared on Top of the Pops, and appeared in the concert film Dance Craze. But the Bodysnatchers lasted less than two years, and after going from obscurity to stardom in 1980, it was all over in 1981 before the group could make an album. Lead singer Rhoda Dakar went on to work with the Specials, Madness, and Apollo 440 as well as recording as a solo act, but in 2015 she decided to look back to the band that launched her career, and Rhoda Dakar Sings the Bodysnatchers is an approximation of the album the group never got to make, featuring a handful of unrecorded original tunes from the band as well as new versions of "Let's Do Rocksteady" and "Easy Life." Dakar is backed by a fine band (including Lynval Golding of the Specials and Horace Panter of Madness) that approximates the Bodysnatchers' sturdy sway very well, and the clean but straightforward recording recalls both the simplicity of the Bodysnatchers' 2-Tone singles and the Jamaican ska and rocksteady sides that influenced the U.K. ska scene, and if this isn't as speedy and energetic as latter-day ska, the band cuts a deep, easygoing groove that makes for easy skanking on the dancefloor. And Dakar has only improved as a vocalist since the early '80s, delivering these songs with a jazzy lilt that blends well with her rude girl persona, while the political slant of the material still sounds relevant in the 21st century. Rhoda Dakar Sings the Bodysnatchers isn't a substitute for the album the band never made, but it's a fine and loving celebration of the glory days of the ska revival, and a reminder that Rhoda Dakar is one of the genre's most engaging talents. ~ Mark Deming
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