3 out of 5
Label: Jump Up!
Produced by: Various
Know what you’re getting, and you’ll be alright.
Would you buy an early cuts / demos collection from a band you’re not in to already? …Maybe? If you’re a bit insane? If someone had recommended The Prizefighters to you, in a world where bandcamp didn’t exist, and this set was all that was available to you, okey dokey; we’ll talk about that scenario in a moment. But let’s assume that, more than likely, you’re something of a fan, and for whatever your reason – you want to support your group; you’re curious; you want to reignite memories of seeing them live back in the day – you’re interested in hearing some archival stuff from before their first official release, and so you purchase “Get Ready!” With that setup, this is pretty fun. And rough. Some recordings are hiss city, with sound cutting in and out – though those are infrequent – while the majority are of the Early Version variety: a little warbly, a little less polished. Plus some early live takes, of a similar tone to the latter.
What’s satisfying about this – and what would work for that crazy first-time listener as well – is that it’s clear The Prizefighters were on to something from the start; they have a groove, and though it’s clearly indebted to all the ska that came before, it’s their own thing. It’s Aaron Porter’s hoarse, earnest voice and lyrics which walk the line between sweet missives and insightful wonderings; it’s the careful line the group walks between two-tone and pop, such that the music has the fun of ska but the warmth of a good pop song, not swinging too far in either direction. Even in it’s most simplified form, as exampled in these takes, the magic is there, already catchy and hummable.
Are any of these definitive versions? Heck no. This is definitely a stepping stone for that newbie listener – I can’t imagine not switching over to the better-produced takes of the various songs once they’re heard – and more of a curiosity for a fan. It’s fun filler when I’ve listened to the other Prizefighters stuff for a bit.
So as long as you know what you’re getting – or I guess even if you don’t – Get Ready! is a fun experience, and certainly a way to confirm that there’s a reason this band has stuck around, and has earned its place in your collection.