Listening to the anger tinged nonchalance of Terry Hall's unique voice transports me back to a time of deep dissatisfaction, unrest and uncertainity. It also evokes memories of youthful rebellion and the sense of outrage at what the future held for a young working class Northen lad. The Specials, more than any of the other SKA/Two Tone bands of the time, signified far more than a mere revival in Mod fashion and music and, unlike a number of their milder mannered contemporaries, their appeal crossed the boundaries of the rigid teenage-tribal loyalties that populated Thatchers 80's . Punks, Skins, Soul Boys and New Romantics could all find something within their sound that resonated.Everybody loved the Specials.They took a firm Anti Racist and Political stance and spoke directly to, and clearly for, the marginalised and disenfranchised of all our communities. The kick from the brilliant sound that resulted from the fusion of white working class poetry and pumping ska has not diminished in the years that have passed since the Specials ripped a hole for themselves in the fabric of 80's music with their landmark eponymous 1979 breakthrough album. Its no surprise, given these days of austerity and unrest, that the band (sadly minus the estranged founder member and main songwriter Jerry Dammers) are in a period of resurgence.
The music is as raw,relevant and rebel rousing now as it was back in the early 80's and I would urge anyone, who may have maybe caught a recent sight and sound of the Specials but wants to find out more, to start right here with this classy collection. Five Stars.
Comprising an excellent greatest hits collection with a dvd of live performances and promo videos, this compilation is essential. Unless you're a big fan or completist this package contains everything you could want from The Specials' enduring legacy. Much of their music still sounds vital and contemporary. Along with The Beat's recent 2 cd compilation, You Just Can't Beat It (and maybe The Selecter's greatest hits), you have a capsule history of the late 70s/early 80s ska revival. Recommended.
The Specials (or The Special AKA as they were known occasionally) were arguably the most influential band of the late 70s/early 80s. Formed in 1977, two years prior to Thatcher's government, it was the bands ability to mix diverse musical styles (ska, punk, reggae, rockabilly) and turn them into something immesely enjoyable which endeared them to their legions of fans, couple this together with a message of racial harmony and anti-establishment sentiments and you are just scraping the surface of the power this band had. The Specials were the brainchild of Jerry Dammers, who formed his own record label and managed to recruit other, like minded bands (such as Madness, The Beat, The Bodysnatchers, The Selecter) with a view to forming a 'collective' of musicians, all with something to say to the youth of Thatcher's Britain. Hence, 'Two Tone' was born. This album puts together the obligatory singles and tracks from the first three Specials albums (Specials, More Specials and In The Studio) together with a DVD of videos for singles and footage of live performances. If, like me, you are an avid fan then this is only worth buying for the (as far as I am aware) otherwise unavailable DVD as I have all the other tracks on the digitally remastered albums, but for this price the DVD on it's own is a bargain. If you are interested in The Specials and want to grab a cross section of their work then this is a great starting point and it does contain a number of album tracks which deserve to be heard (e.g. Nite Klub, Blank Expression, Stereotypes etc.) All in all a fantastic cross section of The Specials' work and a great way to brush up before the hugely anticipated tour in the autumn of 2008 with all the original band members(fingers crossed that it goes ahead). Buy It!
Play GHOST TOWN or STEREOTYPE or stunning debut single GANGSTERS and relive again those heady days of the late seventies/early eighties. More than anything the songs on this superb compilation sum up perfectly the culture of social unrest present in much of Margaret Thatcher's Brave New Britain. For many people life was pretty volatile - due, in no small part, to high unemployment, the poll tax, and the threat (or so we believed at the time) of nuclear armageddon, resulting in an unexpectedly energised left-wing protest movement of which I was a (fairly) active member for a while. That's not to say protesting against the Tory Government was an unrelentingly po-faced endeavour. No, there was a lot of fun to be had simply carrying banners and chanting primitive slogans outside the Houses of Parliament. But that was then.
See? That's just part of what this album does so well. TOO MUCH TOO YOUNG, NITE KLUB, RAT RACE, FRIDAY NIGHT SATURDAY MORNING...THE BEST OF THE SPECIALS is a scathing period piece and a recognisably human portrait of life, kitchen sinks and all. Yes, you had to be there, but forty-five or older, then you probably were; it just depends on which side of the fence you belonged.
Coventry boys JERRY DAMMERS, TERRY HALL and THE SPECIALS have provided us with the most evocative SKA/PUNK music you could ever wish to hear this side of the great divide.
I first saw The Specials singing this in The General Wolfe in Coventry, and I last saw The Specials at The Ricoh Stadium in Coventry and The Specials are as good today as they were in 1979. This song is a classic - and is much about Coventry today as it was back in 1979, update you Specials music and save your Vinyl 12" for best! By : 2 Tone Terry
Bought it when I realised my vinyl 'Specials' had disappeared some time in the last 10 years! Really pleased with it and the extra DVD was a real bonus. I would have put 'You're Wondering Now' on it instead of one of the Special AKA tracks, but that's just me being picky. Money well-spent!