Though the Toasters never had the hits or name recognition of its followers in the '90s ska scare, bands such as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones or even No Doubt would be lost without them. Started 35 years ago by Rob Hingley, the Toasters' two-tone ska-rock expanded and contracted through the pinched energy of new-wave and a range of island rhythms, from reggae and calypso to old-school, R&B-based ska. This diversity — along with good humor and clever covers ("Johnny Go Ska" is a classic Chuck Berry re-write) — makes up for what the band lacks in originality. Even if only Hingley remains from the '80s lineup, the Toasters endure as American ska pioneers because they still harness horn-driven, collective energy — and use it to land a sucker punch of rocksteady skank power.
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