In the summer of 1981, I worked as a cook at Y camp. The camp was located in a city and the building was an old cement relic and inadequately air conditioned. It was a long hot season of slinging hamburgers and making sandwiches, but it was also the summer that I discovered ska music.
During the afternoon breaks, some of the counselors and the younger kitchen staff would hang out on the fire escape in the back of the building and play music on a huge boom box, the size of which probably dwarfed Lloyd Dobler’s in “Say Anything”. Many of the tapes were 2Tone records by Madness, the Specials, the Beat, the Body Snatchers and the Selector. We would skank on the metal fire escape to the point that we would start to shake the metal fixtures, and the senior staff would come out and yell at us to stop. The music that dominated those summer days seemed to fit the sweltering heat and our desire to party rather than deal with entitled campers.
Selector were a favorite of the female counselors and myself. Pauline Black remains one of the coolest front persons of any band in rock. She’s never bowed to the “sex sells” stereotype of the a female singer, but remained cool and confident in her white suits and hats. Her voice is forceful and direct and demands your attention.
On My Radio was released in 1979 in the height of the 2Tone era in the UK. It features the original line up including Charley Anderson on bass, whose bouncy bass line makes this song so irresistibly danceable. I had the opportunity to see Selector last year and hear this song live. Even after four decades, it still sounds fresh and fun as ever. And I got to pull out my dance moves and spend a great night skanking with the best of them. And by the way, Pauline Black is one of the most approachable artists I’ve yet to encounter.
So rude boys and girls, get out your suits and your fedoras, give this one a play and have some fun.