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71
4.8 out of 5 stars
The Specials
Format: Audio CDChange
Price:£5.99+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2000
This is clearly the best Ska record ever made. Their debut album (the BBC had just aired The Specials John Peel Sessions, but it was not yet for sale. Also, their true debut was a 45rpm single of Gangsters whose B-side was titled The Selector and credited to The Selector, but in reality, The Selector was Jerry Dammers, John Bradbury, both from The Specials, and two of their roommates. I think it is the best song The Selector ever did). If you listen to earlier versions of these songs available elsewhere, you can see how much they honed everything. The Specials had toured the U.K. supporting The Clash, and as a result you can hear more Clash-like-Grit on this album, and you can also see The Specials influence on Clash songs like Pressure Drop, very Ska.
I like everything about this album, every song. I still remember my high school English tutor in the 9th grade (I was really bad in school) who was more interested in shaping my musical tastes, and my sister, English was third on his list. He made me a tape of this album with the This Are Two Tone compilation on the second side. I listened to that tape for years, before they had tape-players that would flip the tape for you. I remember one time I accidentally hit "Record", so to this day I am surprised there is no gap at the beginning of "Concrete Jungle".
Not too long ago, I was invited to several Specials shows. My friend had gone to school with Mark Addams (keyboards) in Coventry and whenever they'd come to San Francisco my friend rob would arrange to have us on the list. They have altered the band since 1980 (when this album came out), a few new members, but they still have Neville Staples(who looks even cooler today), Horace Panter, Roddy Radiation, and Lynval Golding. They preformed these songs in a dizzying frenzy. After each show we'd go backstage with them (once to the Green-Room of the legendary Fillmore Auditorium!) and one time on their tour bus somewhere in Santa Cruz. My friends wife was blind, so she had a seeing-eye-Doberman with her. We were on this crowded bus, with the band, this huge dog and scattered other people. They were playing some old sixties Ska on the bus stereo, and Lynval Golding (guitarist) danced with the seeing-eye-dog, and I cracked a corny joke, which I began to regret as I was saying it. I said to Mr. Golding, "Do The Dog!" (referring to their song by the same name) then my ears began to turn red. He thought it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard and slapped his leg as he laughed. He put his rude-boy hat on my head, which was pathetically loose, and laughed his way to the ice-chest and he fetched two beers and brought one to me as his laughter died down. The joke seemed rather obvious to me. He took his hat back as he gave me the beer. It was all very weird.
Anyway, this is the album to have. I have many Specials albums, and would choose this one over all the rest, or any other Ska band, there is No Doubt about that. If you have never heard this album but are considering it, then trust the instincts that brought you this far and get it, if you remember this album from your youth but haven't gotten around to getting it on CD I suggest you drop everything and get it, and get Led Zeppelin IV another time. This album has aged very well.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2009
waited ages for this now it has come not stop playing it, cannot beat the old stuff superb,.ska.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 20 September 2010
There are some great tracks here, but some weaker tracks, that for me do detract from the album as a whole.

First of all, there is no getting away from the greatness of 'A message to you Rudy' - now winning new fans thanks to it's use in a N**t ad. It still sounds like a breath of fresh air, and there's something special about a band that does its own brass, rather than using session men ( qv the mighty Dexys ). Any track that has a trombone solo is on the way to being a great listen and this is no exception.

'Too much, Too Young' is definitely evocative, and of its time, but with older ears there is something a little heartless about its lyric 'married with a kid when you should be having fun with me', could now almost be read as a critique of hedonistic youth, rather than condemning early procreation.

My personal favourite is 'Doesn't make it alright'. I find Hall's plaintive, almost artless vocal very touching, with lines like "Some people think they're really clever/To smash your head against the wall/Then they say 'you got it my way/They really think they know it all'".

On the weaker side, "Dawning of a new era", "Do the Dog", "Monkey Man", "Too Hot" are fairly routine numbers, and 'Little Bitch' while being fairly average musically is really quite misogynistic, unless I'm misreading a satirical lyric.

'Stupid Marriage' and 'Concrete Jungle' are strong lyrically, and the Specials sound like they're having a lot of fun with Neville Staple playing the role of a judge, addressing the defendant as 'Rude Boy' on the former, but not quite matched by the music IMO.

Maybe I just don't find ska as exhilirating as some, but in retrospect this album is just too variable to quite deserve it's classic reputation. I think a lot of this rests on the Specials as an idea - a band confidently fusing black and white musicians, at a time of racial tension was a rallying cry for many. A couple of decades on I listen to it purely as a record. I do like the best bits though!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2015
takes me back to being a teenager..
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 April 2015
These sounds are too hot. Standard!
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2009
This album wil aways be one of the best albums ever! The lyrics still mean as much today as they did in 1979. The dance beat and the tunes still skank and the sound is crystal clear!
Terry Hall's bitter beautiful voice singing 'TRY WEARING A CAP!' Always put's a smile on my face especially when I saw the miserable monster last night at the Brixton Acadamy!
The Specials were a great band and being crushed by a load of blokes and having water sprayed on me by the bouncers (Monkey men) bought it all back to me!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2015
brought back many happy memories
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2015
Extra live tracks are great.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2015
Good price, prompt delvery
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2015
an absolute classic which they never bettered
I remember dancing to the singles in the early eighties
It's a shame that Jerry Dammers got a conscience
The later albums were not much fun
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