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on 24 January 2008
The Specials were a band of two halves. The 'classic' Specials were one of the most exciting bands to emerge in the post-punk period. Then they split and Dammers continued with what was left, his now departed creative rivals replaced by various guests.

The first CD covers the 'classic' period and is pretty much flawless. From Gangsters to the import only Concrete Jungle/Raquel they simply didn't put a foot wrong. All the singles (a's b's and a few odds and ends) are here.

The second and third CDs cover the post-split band (except for longer versions of Ghost Town and Why?) They only recorded one album, but left behind many more 'remixes' and 'alternative' (sometimes only just) versions than the original band. It has to be said, however, that the consistent brilliance that marked the first CD goes here. The distinct identity of the band is also lacking, and at times it's like listening to a various artists collection. There are some classics here (Nelson Mandela, War Crimes, The Boiler, Can't Get a Break) but there's also too many versions of the first and the three attempts to blend Ghost Town with new song 'Let Us Unite' (with a bit of the already over worked 'Nelson Mandela' thrown in) in '91 don't quite come off... 'What I Most Like...' is, frankly, best skipped over, a classic case of a decent song ruined by an almost unlistenable vocal performance. The 2CDs are rather patchy but, as a whole, still rather good.

The booklet is built around a excellent essay by Adrian Thrills.

Obviously it's best if you like both incarnations of the group, but this is a good value collection.
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on 14 February 2013
The 3 CD release is testament to what a brilliant band The Specials really were - it is a source of bitter disappointment they didn't leave behind a bigger legacy.....this compilation is a real let down as the off-cuts and rarities are pretty slim pickings.

Whilst the first 2 studio albums are utterly essential and well represented here, the leftovers do not add an awful lot. In my jaundiced opinion they would have been left unreleased.
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on 18 March 2015
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`Stereo-typical' expands on the previous Specials collection `Singles' by adding `A's, B's & Rarities'.

Disc one is the best disc of the set containing all of the singles of the original Specials from debut pot boiler `Gangsters' through to epoch number one band closer `Ghost Town'. The chronological order also gives all of the b-sides and the whole of `The Special AKA Live EP' which also hit the number one spot. Also contained is the very rare Dutch only Release `Concrete Jungle (live)' b/w `Racquel'.

Disc two chronicles the band after Terry Hall, Neville Staples and Lynval Golding leave to form Fun Boy Three and the group continued under the revitalised name The Special AKA whose first release was the uncomfortable `The Boiler' with ex-Bodysnatchers Rhoda Dakar. Next up they recorded a three track with legendary Jamaican Trombonist Rico `Jungle Music'. After that the pop that was definitely un-easy listening was back with vengeance with `War Crimes' and `Racist Friend'. `Nelson Mandela' took a crusade every one could get behind back into the public eye and the band back into the charts but it was short lived with their final 45 `Girlfriend' b/w `Can't Get a Break' fail to chart. Disc two closes with the poor 1988 re-make of `Nelson Mandela' and two unfortunate mixes of `Ghost Town' which were released to promote the 1991 `Best of Two Tone' LP.

Disc Three contains all the extended 12" versions of both bands which with the notable exception of the heavily dubbed Trombone sols on `Ghost Town' are all poor `versions' with possibly a slightly longer into or fade created in the mix.

So the first disc is excellent and everyone should own a copy, the second disc for completists only and the third disc makes for a nice coaster.
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on 30 October 2000
The Specials, or The Specials AKA, no matter how you remember the Specials you will know their genius and ability to take ska music to its full potential.
This album is a collection of the best of The Specials, spread across 3 CD's. It includes rare tracks that I havent heard of, and I'm sure even the devoted Specials fan might not know.
Of course, being such a large collection there is the odd one or two tracks which might leave you desiring something better. But of course, you can always just flick to of 1 the greats like the atmospheric "Ghost Town" or the absolute excellent "Gangsters" and "Message to you Rudy"
It's great they have decided to make this compilation, so people who odnt remember the Specials can now experience their music.
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on 22 March 2001
Whilst this triple CD Collection has 46 Songs on it it is well worth buying, okay so you may not like every one of them, they are worth listening to, whether you like the early raw power of Rat Race, Concrete Jungle, Nite Klub, or the later stuff like Nelson Mandela, The Boiler, Racist Friend etc. it is well worth purchasing this collection.
I personally would have cut some of the remixes out ie there are 4 versions of Ghost Town, etc. The first CD is in my mind Brilliant, however I would have cut down the Second and Third CD's and made them into one CD and packaged it as a double.
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on 3 April 2007
Part of the title to this 3 CD box is A's, B's and Rarities so of course it's going to have every single and more. If you don't like some of the tracks then simply skip them. I'd rather have all the tracks over 3 CD than some of them over 2. At the price it's at now is hardly going to break the bank either is it? Anyway, Jerry Dammers is the man.
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on 7 May 2005
CD 1- Mint, Ace, Super, Brill. This one has all the gud ones on- Rat Race, Gansters, Too Much Too Young. This alone is a mint CD
CD 2- I strongly sugest the first track is skiped. But this CD has some really good songs like Jungle Music and What i like about you most is ur girlfriend. But with 46 songs there are gonna be some naff ones.
CD 3- Not really needed- but you feel like ur getting more for ur money.
The book thing with the CDs is quiet a intresting read, with the bands history and stuff like that,
As a whole worth a buy if u are missing the specials in ur CD collection.
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