7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Overdue a rerelease,
This review is from: In the Studio (Audio CD)
High time this album was rereleased by the record company. It might be a footnote in the history of music, the dying embers of the ska phenomenon of the early 80s, but in its own way In The Studio is a minor classic. It was well received in most quarters, but only scored 3/5 in NME; sales were also disappointing, but to music lovers this was a treat.
First thing to note is that, Jerry Dammers apart, this is not the original Specials. However, many of the musicians and singers Dammers brought in had been on the periphery of the 2-Tone revolution, and all were talented performers in their own right. Vocalists Rhoda Dakar and Egidio Newton emerge with particular credit.
Then, the material. The songs Dammers wrote for this album are less raw and more mature than much of the Specials early material - no less politically charged, but they express a wider palette of emotions and greater musical depth than anything that came before. None more so than the joyful Nelson Mandela, written when the great statesman was incarcerated by the South African government and still 7 years from a triumphant return. Despite the urgent, pleading message, the song conveys a message of hope that was rewarded in Mandela's subsequent release.
While not all songs are that powerful, they are all worth listening to: the quirky What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend, for example; the raw power of Break Down The Door; the poignant Alcohol, written perhaps from personal experience; and the challenging Racist Friend, urging listeners to ditch friends with racist attitudes. In fact, there is not a bad track in sight - Dammers went out into other projects on a glorious high.