*** Various Artists, “This Is Ska!,” Music...

*** Various Artists, “This Is Ska!,” Music Club. If you’ve seen enough “ska-influenced” references in descriptions of everyone from No Doubt to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones to make you curious about the roots of ska music, this 16-track package is a handy way to explore this Jamaican sound, which mixes R&B;, calypso and jazz.

Despite the frequently scratchy sound quality of these ‘60s recordings, the chances are you’ll find the music here fresher and more involving than the bands that walk in ska’s shadow today. The collection’s lineup ranges from the Skatalites to Jimmy Cliff (who went on to be one of the giants of reggae). For further ska exploration, Heartbeat Records has just released a two-disc history of the Skatalites titled “Foundation Ska.”

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).