ska is a type of music that came about around the 1950s as a result of the mixture of jazz the blues rock and other popular forms of music at the time. some bands started to play it a bit slower and this evolved into rocksteady which evolved into reggae. Today ska is more rock influenced than anything else but it will always have an upbeat guitare sound and usually a horn section.
The Toasters are probably the band that best embodies what ska really is and of course the Skatelites.
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