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4.6 out of 5 stars36
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 August 2007
Probably the best music biography I have ever read. Written with a lot of humour, an amazing memory, and an unusual lack of ego. Its great to get his insight on a band that obviously spent quite a lot of time in turmoil despite making great music. Myths are busted and its the first time I have heard a member of a successful band admit to frustration at playing a bad show. Honesty , wit and great subject matter make for an excellent read. Good photos I have never seen anywhere else too.
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on 6 August 2007
No scandal or revelations here, just a straightforward reflection on the rise and fall of the Specials from Horace's perspective. You learn little about the band members that isn't already well documented elsewhere. What shines through is a man dedicated to his work throughout, and who with the rest of the band focussed his efforts on giving fans what they wanted. 'That bloke from the Specials' - a tag worn with pride and justifiably so.
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on 14 August 2007
Very bright & breezy look at the life & times of The Specials from Horace's point of view. A really enjoyable narrative, with some classic Specials stories, from someone who was there. If you are a Specials fan then it's a must but to be fair, any music fan would find this an entertaining & informative read.
Well worth a punt.
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A few years ago on being asked for any New Years Resolutions on Jools Holland's Annual Hootenanny Phil Jupitus answered to `get the band back together' he went on to say `it might be difficult as he wasn't actually in The Specials'. Phil has, however, contributed in his own way by writing the foreword of the memoirs of Sir Horace Panter Gentleman `Ska'd For Life'.

An apt title if there ever was one as The Specials Ska'd the lives of not only bass player extraordinaire Panter but also fans Phil Jupitus and myself to name but two. The Specials informed my politics, I was against racism before I really knew what it was and in fact before I met anyone whom was coloured, coming from quite a leafy English suburb. They informed by dress, I still wear a black suit, Ben Sherman button down and even a Crombie overcoat when the weather is inclement. Most of all The Specials informed my musical taste, a peculiar blend of Ska and Punk which was my first love and what I return to time after time.

Over the last thirty years I've read allot about The Specials and the Two Tone bands and although this doesn't really add anything to the story it is great to hear it first hand from someone who was there rather than watching on, which I was doing myself. The stories reverberate with a freshness particularly in the parts of the book which were taken directly from the tour journal Horace kept throughout the American and Japanese tours which ultimately led to the break up of the band.

Horace's account is well written and the book expertly paced, it is the greatest book on The Specials I've ever read, it was however difficult to finish as I had to keep getting up and moving to the Black and White decked LP's I played whilst reading this book. Now that the band are indeed reforming maybe Horace will get to write a sequel `Dawning of a New Era' anyone?
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on 25 January 2011
Sir. Horace Gentlemen was never my most favorite member of the Specials. Always the guy in the back. Not as flashy as the front men or as mouthy as some others. But after reading his journal, his honest and open thoughts about those days, he's definitely become my favorite. But nevermind favorites, what is compelling about this book is that you learn things about the music, the group, management, shows, you learn the WHY behind all the things the Specials did or didn't do in that crazy era. Whats more, I had always wondered what and how songs like Gangsters or Rat Race had come to exist. And I still can't believe the people that were around the Specials at that time, the super talented and influential musicians who would turn up at their shows or even toured with them! Adds a whole new layer to the band who's music I will play til the day I die.
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on 2 August 2007
Horace's book is an absolute must for those of us still curious after all these years about just what made that band so Special... Told with wit, heart and honesty, he gives us some gems that other publications could never hope to get near.

A hearty thanks Horace...
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on 15 November 2007
A wonderful book for those who the Specials were(are)a soundtrack to your life.In my case 79-81 The Specials were a vital part of my musical upbringing.If you are looking for a potted history of 2 Tone this book won't give it to you,but then that is not it's intention.What it does give you is a real sense of how the 7 strong band existed in their own little pockets.For instance you realise fairly early on who Horace did and didn't get on with,but with a band with so many members it was easier to hide away.One thing that really comes through is his passion for performance and how important it was to him to give 100% to his public and how annoyed he got if there was a lack of professionalism from his bandmates and/or roadcrew.You also get the distinct feeling that this book in no small way has helped the author in a long term healing process that must be necessary after being a part of a band at the absloute forefront of a huge youth movement and all the responsibility and danger that can bring.You will drag out your old vinyl/Cds of "Specials" and "More Specials" and listen to them with a different perpsective.I know I did!
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on 29 May 2009
What a wonderful memoirs of the 2Tone movement. I loved the Specials when their music first came out in the States!! Although Horace doesn't think we (Americans) got them, many of us did. Too bad that our wanting to dance and sing to some of the most rebellious songs our generation had ever heard made us come off as clueless. We just wanted to enjoy this sound!! I had a chance to meet Horace, Neville, Lynval, Aitch, Mark and Adam when they reformed in the early 90s and did another American tour. They are a great group of guys!! I think that the touring life for any group or individual is quite tough and take toil. We fans appreciate what they bought to us when they could!! My friends (some are musicians) and I used to talk about who the best bass player was and we all wished we could be like Horace!! You still got it Horace - Keep it up!!!
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on 22 April 2014
This is a breathless, sweat-drenched gallop through The Specials' success story and the birth of 2 Tone, seen through the eyes of Stephen Panter, AKA Sir Horace Gentleman, AKA The Special AKA's bassist. Thirty five years on, it's amazing how quickly Jerry Dammers and the rest of the "Fun-Boy-Seven" (or was it nine?) shot to fame and then self-destructed. By the time of their first hit and debut appearance on Top Of The Pops, they were already in the middle of the tour that burnt them out before they had started, almost, and Sir Horace comes across as the man-in-the-middle caught between increasing band rivalries and cliques. So this is fascinating for anyone who remembers those times or who loves 2 Tone. All the essential music industry strands are here, from idealistic starting points, to interacting with fans and the media, rubbish transport, fallings-out with management, hotel escapades, bitching about rival bands, squabbles over royalties, jostling for song-writing credits, etc etc. Our author comes across as a genuine nice guy, providing the driving rhythm that is the heart-beat for a ska band, and a fan's eye view of life on- and back-stage generally. Perhaps, though, in the end, he is just a bit TOO nice and dances over the exact details of why Terry really fell out with Jerry and all the other dirt - the gritty truth that, say, Morrissey, goes out his way to focus on in his autobiography, which is what would have made this an even more compelling read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 August 2014
Horace Panter aka Sir Horace Gentleman was the bass player with, and a founder member of, The Specials. Jerry Dammers lead the band and the Two Tone record label which, with its marvellous fusion of punk, reggae and ska, kickstarted the late 1970s ska revival in the UK.

Horace vividly describes his life before The Specials, the band's formation, their meteoric rise to the top of the charts, and their equally swift disintegration.

This clear-eyed recollection of life in The Specials is a marvellous read. It also operates as a cautionary tale for any would-be rock star. Horace's description of the band's first American tour sounds like hell on earth, despite playing some good shows. Overall it's hard to escape the conclusion that being in a successful band is not something anyone with a normal disposition should covet. That said, what Horace also conveys is the magic and exhilaration of playing live music, and of course playing in The Specials meant playing some of the finest music of their era.

A great band, and a very interesting and enjoyable book.

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