Less Than Jake at 30 – Honourable Mention: The Bruce Lee Band

I’m including this album in my revisit of the Less Than Jake catalogue because three members of the band played on this record. The Bruce Lee Band (sometimes stylised as The B. Lee Band for obvious copyright reasons) is one of Asian Man Records’ founder Mike Park’s many projects. The band is still active today, albeit with a different line up of musicians “backing” Mike.

I’m sure die-hard fans will be aware of LTJ’s involvement with this project, but it may have slipped under the radar for others, given the US only release of this self titled debut in 1995 (the same year as Pezcore, put out on Mike’s previous label, Dill Records).

It’s well worth a listen if you’ve never heard it because it sounds just like LTJ from this era (Chris even sings lead vocals on ‘Standing Up For Justice’). I listened it today for the first time in years and still remembered each song note for note. It’s easily accessible on streaming platforms, so go check it out and spare a thought for me, unable to find it for love nor money back in 2004. 

Well that’s not strictly true, I did manage to procure a copy in 2004, but involved a trip to London and a venture out to Camden’s All Ages Records, a legendary, specialist punk rock record shop, which I’m pleased to report is still going strong today. The day I bought this, my girlfriend at this time bought a compilation from the same shop called ‘Emo Is Awesome. Emo Is Evil’. I don’t think we were ever meant to be.

Mike’s other seminal third-wave ska bands Skanin’ Pickle and The Chinkees were equally impossible to get hold of back in the early 2000’s pre-streaming world, so I never gravitated towards the earlier part of his career. Instead I got into Mike’s, less ska more singer-songwriter albums released under his own name, via Sub City Records, which had much better distribution in the UK.

In November 2005 I got to see Mike open for Alkaline Trio at Southampton Guildhall, something I never expected to happen. A year or so later in February 2008, I got to see him again in Southampton at a place called ‘The Homestead’. (I liked it for the Star Wars reference alone, of course). This venue was actually the conservatory of a shared house, a short walk outside of the city centre, where one of Southampton’s own legends of ska, Matt Reynolds of the band Howards Alias lived. Also on the bill was Sundowner, a.k.a Chris McCaughan from The Lawrence Arms.

That might be the most DIY punk story I have for you.

Favourite track: Gerry Is Strong

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