Top positive review
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A bit of a mixed bag, but still fine....
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.