#5: The Selecter-"Too Much Pressure"

Let's get back to the countdown of songs that manage to be MORE inappropriate for an Angels 7th inning stretch than the current self-aware disaster, The Foundations' "Build Me Up Buttercup". We're stuck with that song for the foreseeable future, but this countdown is here to remind you that it could always be worse.

Today's installment takes a look at the venerable 2-Tone ska revival heroes, The Selecter, and the titular song from their classic debut LP, Too Much Pressure. I also wax sentimental over some other choice Selecter sides, while looking at what they mean to the Angels, KLAA 830am, ESPN, and why Orange County isn't allowed to have ska anymore. After the jump: The Selecter-"Too Much Pressure".

 

The 2-Tone ska movement, emerging from the detritus of England's 70's punk explosion and lingering adoration for Jamaican ska and reggae from the decade prior, really hit the ground running more than most music scenes in the history before it. The songs managed to take the catchy, organ-driven styles of their 1960's counterparts(luminaries such as Desmond Dekker, The Skatalites and Prince Buster) and infused it with faster, free wheeling drum parts, fret-board-physical upstroke guitar strumming, updated politics and of course, the checkerboard black and white aesthetic. The music was infectious, the band members were always interesting, to say the least, the suits were as suave as James Bond and the message was one that appealed to youth far and wide: racial equality, question The Man and, most importantly, have fun. If Anaheim Stadium managed to throw some 2-Tone on the stadium's PA system during the 7th inning stretch, asses would get out of seats and shake like Bartolo Colon running out a grounder in an inter-league game. However, The Selecter's "Too Much Pressure" would be the wrong song for such ass shaking. The reason is right in the title, of course, but there's a bit more to it than meets the eye.

The last thing the team needs in the 7th inning is the declaration that there's "too much pressure". A shaky bullpen in the past has led to many gas can situations for our guys, many of which we've all been here on Halos Heaven for, watching and commenting on a game that goes from bad to even worse to complete meltdown.

"Too much pressure, this pressure got to stop
Too much pressure, it's getting to my head
Too much pressure, they're giving me hard times
Too much pressure, my man made me sad
Too much pressure, him try to make me look small
Too much pressure, end up with no money"

Even The Selecter, back in 1980, knew that the Halos bullpen, or fading starting pitchers, can cause the most faithful of fans to feel a wave of trepidation creep up on them in close contests. They were also very sensitive to the feelings and hardships that these players are going through in the midst of a late-game defensive breakdown, as evidenced by the last three lines above. The "man" in this case is Mike Scioscia, making players sad simply by his trademark head tilt and shoulder shrug, and possible lambasting back in the clubhouse, post-game. Of course, more meltdowns in and after the 7th means, as The Selecter points out, the player will end up with no money, or without a contract or interest from other teams. Pressure gets the best of us, and is only amplified by 40,000 plus people dancing and skanking to an anthem of absolute pressure; toasting to the Angels while subversively telling the man on the mound "better not screw this up, Rude Boy."

Another great song by The Selecter that I'd LOVE to hear at Anaheim is their early single, "On My Radio." This song is a dance party on wax, a 45 of epic good-time status, and my favorite song out of their entire catalog(as well as 2-Tone's). But when associated with the Angels, it automatically makes me think of KLAA AM 830, our fearless owner's radio station that, almost a year ago to date, became a mouthpiece for ESPN. KLAA wasn't all that great to begin with, in my opinion. The programming has always been spotty, if not downright weird(listen on the weekends, still,and you'll often find a treasure trove of WTF shows), but they at least used to have more time devoted to the Angels. It IS the "flagship" station of the LA Angels, yet we've only gotten farther away from the team and the broadcasters that love it, rather than grow closer as a fanbase and community. The friendly, informative Jeff Biggs' role has diminished, Dave Smith got the boot all together, Roger Lodge rules the morning's whether we like it or not, and we still have to suffer through pay-to-play slot fillers like Ridin' Dirty and Tim Conway going on about...something...heartburn remedies, refinancing, or whatever it is he's peddling these days.

"I bought my baby a red radio
He played it all day a-go-go a-go-go
He liked to dance to it down in the streets
He said he loved me but he loved the beat

But when I switch on I rotate the dial

I could see it there driving him so wild
I bought my baby a red radio
He said he loved me but he had to go"

Arte Moreno bought us a Red radio(station), alright, but although he loves me, he had to go(and sublet it to the World Wide Leader).  It's just the same old show, on my radio, and I'm not sure I like it. I'm also not sure I have a choice.

Of course, all of the great sides by The Selecter, or ANY great ska band from the 2-Tone era, would be rendered moot for the 7th inning due to the simple fact that in the 1990's, southern Calfornia and (most egregiously) Orange County tried their damndest to destroy ska forever. It started out innocently enough, with young band geeks and pre-Hot Topic junior high outcasts finding in ska the comfort and familial aspects of the punk rock scene, but with the anger and hostility of that scene replaced with the silliness and wacky sensibilities of a Saturday morning cartoon. Replete with zany band names, kitschy t-shirts and songs about 80's nostalgia and cheesy breakups, these (mostly) white, suburban kids shook the pillars of the ska gods before them, but not in a good way. More in a "this music is horrible" kind of way. Orange County, and especially cities directly in the shadow of the Big A(Orange, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Fullerton), bore many of these bands, like Reel Big Fish, The Aquabats, Save Ferris, Jeffries Fan Club and Rx Bandits. This time will forever be a dark period for ska music, looked back upon with the same type of disdain as the disco era. They almost ruined it for everybody, but thankfully most bands, after realizing the third-wave ska revival was all fad and no heart, moved on to other dubious sub-genres such as swing and power pop. We managed to make it through these times with our ears intact and an even greater appreciation for real deal Holyfield ska bands, like The Selecter. But the wounds are still quite fresh from the 1990's aural onslaught of crap, and therefore Anaheim, and Orange County, can't have ska anymore. See?! This is why we can't have nice things!!

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