Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The

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Formed: 1985, Boston, Massachusetts

Members: Dicky Barrett, vocals (born Providence, Rhode Island, 22 June 1964); Tim Burton, saxophone; Ben Carr, dancer (born Boston, Massachusetts, 16 May 1968); Roman Fleysher, saxophone; Joe Gittleman, bass (born Boston, Massachusetts, 6 April 1970); Lawrence Katz, guitar; Chris Rhodes, trombone; Joe Sirois, drums (born North Andover, Massachusetts, 25 January 1972). Former members: Nate Albert, guitar (born Cambridge, Massachusetts, 26 November 1971); Tim Bridewell, trumpet; Dennis Brockenborough, trombone (born Delaware, 19 December 1970); Josh Dalsimer, drums; Kevin Lenear.

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Let's Face It (1997)

Hit songs since 1990: "Where'd You Go?," "The Impression That I Get"

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were one of the pioneers of the American ska movement, which exploded in the mid-1990s and gave the Boston band its first taste of commercial success.

The Bosstones formed in 1985, with an original lineup consisting of Tim Bridewell (trumpet), Dicky Barrett (vocals), Nate Albert (guitar), Joe Gittleman (bass), Josh Dalsimer (drums), and Tim "Johnny Vegas" Burton (saxophone), plus dancer Ben Carr. The band released its debut album Devils Night Out in 1990 on Taang! Records. The Bosstones' sound derived from Jamaican ska, a horn-driven style of reggae that first came to prominence in the 1960s and that British bands such as Madness and English Beat brought to the masses in the early 1980s. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' version of ska was decidedly unique in its incorporation of heavy-metal and punk influences.

The Bosstones cultivated a grassroots following through their high-energy live performances, which often saw the band fully decked out in plaid suits. They played more than 300 shows a year for much of the 1990s. The Bosstones' accessibility and loyalty to their fan base stood in stark contrast to the standoffishness of grunge bands in vogue at the time and helped forged rabid devotion to the group.

After a lineup change in which drummer Joe Sirois, saxophonist Kevin Lenear, and trombonist Dennis Brockenborough joined the band, with Bridewell and Dalsimer departing, the Bosstones signed to Mercury Records in 1993. They scored their first commercial coup in 1995, appearing in the movie Clueless. Featured as a house-party band in the movie, the Bosstones perform two songs: "Someday I Suppose" and "Where'd You Go?"

As ska-influenced bands such as No Doubt and Sublime came to dominate the charts in 1997, interest in the Bosstones surged. Let's Face It (1997) became the band's best-selling album, and the single "The Impression That I Get" nearly topped the modern rock charts. "The Impression That I Get," an infectious up-tempo number with reggae guitars and blurting horns, charmed listeners with its decidedly self-effacing lyrical approach, in which the narrator muses about his ability to confront adversity: "I'm not a coward, I've just never been tested / I'd like to think that if I was, I would pass." As the music reaches a powerful crescendo in the chorus, Barrett lets out a guttural heavy-metal growl that leads into the chorus.

After the success of Let's Face It, the Bosstones experienced more lineup shifts, as Lenear and Albert departed, the latter to finish his education at Brown University; the band added Roman Fleysher (saxophone) and Lawrence Katz (guitar) as their replacements. At the height of the ska craze, the Bosstones played to festival-sized audiences as part of the Lollapalooza Tour, but, as interest in the musical movement began to wane, the band returned to more familiar club environs. In 1998 the Bosstones celebrated their roots by releasing Live at the Middle East, recorded during the band's annual five-night "Hometown Throw-down" in Boston.

Though perhaps underappreciated for their important musical influence, the Bosstones continued to hold the respect, devotion, and adoration of their fans.


Devils Night Out (Taang!, 1990); More Noise and Other Disturbances (Taang!, 1991); Don't Know How to Party (Mercury, 1993); Question the Answers (Mercury, 1994); Let's Face It (Mercury, 1997); Pay Attention (Island/Def Jam, 2000); A Jackknife to a Swan (SideOneDummy, 2002).

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