There are few music genres as polarizing as ska and even fewer that are as enduring. By the late 80s, ska in the U.S. was little more than a micro-niche being kept alive be bands like Fishbone and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Few would have guessed that the genre’s third wave of popularity was just a few years away.
Pick It Up! Beautifully synthesizes the phenomenon of the 90s ska craze in a tight, 99-minute documentary. Narrated by Rancid’s/Operation Ivy’s Tim Armstrong, the film mixes humor and nostalgia to accurately document the movement thanks to interviews with members from bands like The Bosstones, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, The Specials (pioneers of the two-tone movement) and many many more.
Like the genre itself, the documentary is endearingly self-deprecating, with many of the musicians as surprised as everyone else that they were able to rise to the heights they achieved. More than one band member referred to the genre as the refuge for uncool band geeks.
Even if you’re not a fan of ska—you don’t know your Skatalites from you Skablins—the doc is entertaining enough to keep your attention throughout.