Mark Foggo
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Mark Foggo

Liverpool, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR

Liverpool, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR
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"Review Mark Foggo - MAD"

Mark Foggo is one of the few, wonderfully obstinate batch of musicians--alongside Bucket of The Toasters, Nick Welsh (King Hammond, Skaville UK, Bad Manners, Selecter), King Django, and others--who have been consistently producing high-quality ska since the post-2 Tone days of the mid-80s. Like many acts with origins in that era, Mark Foggo's ska sound has always been flexible enough to incorporate a wildly eclectic mix of influences--new wave, punk, 50s rock, and rockabilly--reminding one of the kind of offbeat acts that used to be featured on Stiff Records. (Come to think of it, Stiff acts Madness + The Untouchables + Ian Dury = Mark Foggo! Of course, he covered "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick" on his marvelous 1992 Couldn't Play Ska album.) No matter how you define or dissect his music, there is no doubt that he is an extraordinarily talented and versatile songwriter and musician.

Mark Foggo's eighth studio album, MAD, is stellar from start to finish--and crammed with instantly memorable, aggressively fast, minor-key tunes that create an unusual amount of claustrophobic tension for a ska record. His rhythm section is atomic-clock precise; the guitar and keyboard lines are gleefully frenetic; the horns deliver their goods like Muhammad Ali (landing their musical "blows" before your brain can process that they hit you); and his melodies are remarkably catchy. (The band seems to be always operating at maximum efficiency, so much so that you can practically hear the sweat dripping off the musicians.) All of this is topped off by the uninhibited, larger-than-life, and always entertaining antics of Mark Foggo himself.

The oftentimes surreal, comically absurd, and definitely twisted world of Mark Foggo is full of characters trying to make sense of senseless situations; survive in a system that, one way or another, appears to be dead-set on doing them in; or just flying their freak flags high and proud. MAD kicks off with "The Day I Met Muhammad Ali," written from the point of view of someone unwisely stepping into the ring to be pummeled (to death?) by Muhammad Ali in his prime ("With the help of rubber ropes/well, I'm running rings/I just hope if keep moving/he can hit other things/For sure, I've never seen anyone this tall/and I'm damn right certain I was never this small...") and uses one of Ali's signature taglines in the chorus. "Caravans" is a panoramic, Jam-like screed against RVs clogging up the roadways and gas stations in Europe ("See the snails with shells on their backs/running too fast with overloaded roof-racks"), while "Bang Me Head" is a terrifically upbeat tune about accepting that sometimes you just can't change the status quo ("Bang me head against an old brick wall, but it don't do nothing..."). "Rotten to the Core" is straight-on "Rumble in Brighton"-type rockabilly, delivering a warning to get out of town or suffer a beat down.

"Cybergirl" is about, well, um, looking at pictures of naked women on the web ("I could see her/She looked so good I could almost feel her!")--and its companion piece, "Sugarlover" has the singer on the prowl for "a girl with money/I'm looking round for a gal with looks." They're both done tongue-in-cheeky, but lust and greed motivate a good portion of the world's population, right? "Jump That Gate" is a loping reggae skank that in its verses has the singer pledging to amend his bad ways contrasting with the (Greek) chorus insisting that "nothing you can do can ever change any part of it."

The power-pop/new wave-ish "Watch the Clock" is a bitter clockwatcher's hymn: "I go to work and I waste my time/I pay my wages and they rob me blind." "Punch" is aggro-ska that demands "if he gets up again, then you've got to knock him down!" "Rollin' and Ridin" (a reference to the original slang for rock'n'roll, if you get my drift) incorporates a great turn-on-a-dime shift between minor-key verses and major key choruses (that feature an earthy, kick-ass Bill Haley/Chuck Berry sax riff). Mark Foggo does his best Johnny Rotten on "EU"--wondering where his "punk rock subsidy" is (apparently there is one for every other trade group), and the album is (sweetly) capped off with him trying to put into words how it feels when a lover is absent on the calypso-tinged "What It Feels Like" ("It's like when someone hits you low/It's like the music's running slow/It's like a secret you don't know/That's what it's like").

MAD is already on The Duff Guide to Ska's "Top Ten Ska Albums of 2010"--and is absolutely one of the best written, performed, and sounding ska records we've heard in a long, long time. Buy MAD now! - The Duff Guide to Ska


"Mark Foggo's Skasters are great!"

Tangra Mega Rock's 3rd birthday bash was destined to be one helluva monster knees up! This is, after all, the one and only true rock'n'roll radio station in Bulgaria - where anything goes on air and you can almost smell and taste the freedom that rebels from Jerry Lee Lewis to the Sex Pistols fought hard to attain and defend!

Free mind, free spirit and some bloody good fun is what we were promised...and that's exactly what we got.

Springtime in Bulgaria is, quite simply, fabulous - a green kingdom of sun and beer and smiles! Hence a large portion of the 700+ crowd that came to see Mark Foggo's Skasters, Wickeda and La Muchedumbre were in no haste to enter the venue - opting instead to booze, chat and spliff it up in the little park outside

Those that did enter early were mixing it up in the lobby, checking out the merch or ordering bevvies at the bar. This meant that opening act La Muchedumbre had to start their set to an almost empty room. Not fazed at all, they launched into a longish instrumental intro that turned out to be a perfect platform for the band to warm up and then hit us with their first "proper" song. When they did hit us, La Muchedumbre practically exploded and forced droves of people from the lobby into the space in front of the stage. Each number saw more and more people come in to witness and appreciate the band's ska/funk/swing/punk/core jubilation. With a skinny and animated frontman, La Muchedumbre are already pulling them in at club level - all they need now is a few more memorable tunes and they'll be packing bigger venues, no problem.

Next up were WICKEDA- a band that has been going for more than 10 years. A band who exploded onto the local scene with their debut single and album and had, for the duration of one hot Summer back then, the entire nation singing along to their music! Since their overnight success, Wickeda have developed and diversified their sound, toured Europe many times and evolved into a tight rebel-party-gung ho machine to behold and hear!

The band is tight as fuck, they've got their horns back and they sure know how to get a crowd going! Their set sees a little kid run onstage and ask the band if he can stagedive...Once given permission and encouraged by the roar of the crowd, kiddo dives in and is carried high for a good while - it's all fantastic fun and ties in pretty well with the band's overall vibe of positivity and freedom.

The band play all their hits as the crowd sing along! It's riveting stuff and it sets us up nicely for the headline act...

MARK FOGGO'S SKASTERS....Well, they've been here before...and they had a fucking blinder! Well, tonight, believe it or not, they actually topped that previous show! Oh yes they bloody well did! The band came on and played an intro, slowly building up anticipation...meanwhile, in the aisles, Mark Foggo - ska warrior and true adventurer extraordinaire - warmed up and got ready to show us young uns a few things...or ten!





The Skasters hit us with 'Bumpy Airlines', 'Not Scott', 'Spaceman Stuff' and the sublime 'Haircuts', during which Mark brandished a massive pair of scissors, not that he'll need them mind you. The entire band simply did not stop jumping about throughout the duration of the gig, whilst not missing a note. Mark Foggo is one lovely nutter of a frontman and they don't make 'em like that nowadays, that's for sure.

One thing is certain - Bulgaria simply adores Mark and his Skasters and that was evident was before they launched into their encore rendition of "Hashish From Amsterdam", a song that has proved to be phenomenally populat in this part of the Globe. "We don't usually play this one too often actually", said Mark in an interview prior to the gig. "Well, if you don't play it tonight, they'll tear the place apart" - warned we. And tear the place apart they did, anyway....Happy days!

Nasso Ruskov

24 Apr 2009
- Tangra Me Rock Radio


"Simply excellent 2-Tone-style ska collection"

Ska maestro Mark Foggo began his long and illustrious career way back in 1980, with Mark Foggo & The Secret Meeting’s album Speeding My Life Away on Polydor. Since then, solo recordings and fine work with Mark Foggo’s Skasters and The Babyshakers have appeared on labels such as EMI, Skank, Top Hole, Chateau, Boni, Universe and Belgium’s Skanky ’Lil.

These 16 tracks, as the title suggests, provide a neat overview of the man’s prolific output: fantastically bouncy ska with Madness and The Specials written all over them. Mark himself provides brief but amusing sleevenotes commenting on each track, and there’s even the bonus of his previously unreleased version of Chris Isaac’s Blue Hotel (no, honestly). - Record Collector , London UK


Discography

ALBUMS
2010: Mad (V2 Records)
2006: Hello Ska People - Japanese Best of Album
2006: It's Only a Game (Skanky´Lil Records)
2005: You Shot Me (Skanky’ Lil Records)
2002: The Missionaries of Ska (Skanky’ Lil Records)
1998: St. Valentinesday Massacre (Skanky’ Lil Records)
1995: Haircut (Skanky’ Lil Records)
1994: Lucky to be Alive (Skanky’ Lil Records)
1993: Ska Pig (Skanky’ Lil Records)
1992: Couldn't Play Ska (Skanky’ Lil Records)
1990: Captain Skarlet (Skank/ Link)
1987: Ska Pig (Skank/ Link)

1985 - Weapons + Guitars (EMI)
1983 - A State Of Mind (Boni)
1980 - Speeding My Life Away (Polydor)

SINGLES

1980 - "New Shoes" / "It Get's You Down" (Polydor)
1980 - "New Shoes" / "Out of Place" (Polydor)
1981 - "New Shoes" / "Ace of Spades" (Polydor)
1982 - "Advertising" / "Human Error"
1983 - "The Innocence of Youth" / "You Never Asked"
1983 - "Miss Understanding" / "Hold On to Your Hat"
1983 - "Caribbean Island" / "Seems Like Years"
1985 - "Weapons and Guitars" / "Human Error"
1985 - "I Never Promised You Anything" / "Posers"
1985 - "Taking Things too Far" / "Oops I Did it Again"

1997 - "Hashish From Amsterdam" (Skanky’ Lil Records)

2010 - T'he Day I Met Muhammad Ali' (Single - V2 Records)
Albums

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Bio

MARK FOGGO makes fast, high energy feel-good music and is one of the planet's best known names in ska music, The fast, catchy songs and electrifying performance are well known by audiences worldwide
Mark Foggo started his career at 14 years old by playing around the London pub circuit, supporting himself with live pub gigs and the occasional solo performance. Nothing could break his determination to succeed in music, often taking odd jobs when the money ran out. Mark wrote and recorded his first single ‘New Shoes’ and when it grabbed the attention of Polydor Records, they offered him a contract . Through Polydor he released his first full-length album 'Speeding My Life Away’.It was an album full of energetic, high powered, mindbending songs that demonstrated his inventive songwriting skills and musicianship. Mark followed this up with the album, “Ska Pig” which was released by Link/ Skank Records UK. MTV has called it a ‘classic and milestone’ in the genre. Since then, Mark Foggo has released a number of excellent CDs ,EPs and Singles on indie label Skanky'Lil Records andand over the years his songs have appeared on over a hundred compilation CDs worldwide.Now , having signed a deal with V2 RECORDS for the release of the brand new album 'MAD', The “creme de la creme” of Foggo’s newest recordings.