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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 2 September 2002
The vinyl version of this cd was the first record I ever bought and to this day it is still my fav record of all time. It is just fantastic. From start to finish this lp is brilliant. 'Do the dog' and 'concrete jungle' are particular favourates of mine. Its no wonder that this LP has been voted into the top 100 LP's of all times - its impact never lessons.
The only negative that I have always thought about this record (and this is a very minor point) is that this it has a long version of 'too much too young' which I find a bit slow - perhaps that's why they decided to release the live version of it in single format, which subsequently got to number one. However that is only a minor point and do not let that put you off buying this as it is still a great song.
To this this day I still find 'you're wondering now' makes me sad - maybe its because its the last song. Still this a good reason to press the repeat button as this soon cheers you up again. No
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*** A Review For The 2015 Special Edition 2CD Version ***

There are some albums that just put a smile on your face - and a lot of them are debuts from British bands released in the late Seventies. There's Derry's finest "The Undertones" from May 1979 - Madness and their fab Nutty Boys opening salvo "One Step Beyond" from October 1979 - and of course those other 'very rude' boys - The Sex Pistols and "Never Mind The Bollocks..." from way back in October 1977 (my mum thought they were lovely chaps deep down and just needed a good meal). But for sheer joy-inducing affection - the November 1979 self-titled Ska Rock debut from Coventry's "Specials" on the wonderful 2 Tone Records takes some beating.

I recall on many occasions when I worked in Reckless Records in Soho's Berwick Street when the album would come in (a sure sign of a decent collection) - within minutes of purchase it would take pride-of-place on our display wall dressed up in a shiny new heavy gauge PVC sleeve and a natty display triangle. But we quickly learned that this was sort of futile - because milliseconds later some visibly animated punter would slap it down on the counter sporting the aforementioned smile on his 30-something kisser and say out loud, "I WANT THIS!" in an excitable fidgety way. You could even see he was already thinking of acquiring yet another 2 Tone button and skinny tie in Sister Ray just up the street. Ah...them was the days...still are...

Some 35 years after its first appearance on vinyl LP with that gorgeous laminate sleeve - Chrysalis have decided to do a solid by The Specials much-loved Ska Revival debut album and give it a 2015 Special Edition 2CD overhaul. And a lovely thing it is too. Here are contraceptive-married with a kid should be having fun details...

UK released 30 March 2015 (April 2015 in the USA) - "Specials: 2CD Special Edition" is on Chrysalis/2 Tone CDLTTR 5001 (Barcode 0825646336081) and it gangsters out as follows....

Disc 1 - The Album (47:43 minutes):
1. Gangsters
2. A Message To You Rudy
3. Do The Dog
4. It's Up To You
5. Nite Klub
6. Doesn't Make It Alright
7. Concrete Jungle
8. Too Hot
9. Monkey Man
10. (Dawning Of A) New Era
11. Blank Expression
12. Stupid Marriage
13. Too Much Too Young
14. Little Bitch
15. You're Wondering Now
[Notes: Produced by Elvis Costello - the British LP is tracks 2 to 15 and was released 3 November 1979 on vinyl LP in the UK on Chrysalis/2 Tone CDL TT 5001. It was preceded by their debut 45 in the UK "Gangsters" (credited to The Special A.K.A.) released 28 July 1979 on Two Tone TT 1. The American variant of the album on Chrysalis FV 41265 came out in December 1979 as a 15-track LP placing the song "Gangsters" at the end of Side 1. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders sings backing vocals on "Nite Klub"]

Disc 2 - Extra Specials (44:42 minutes):
Too Much Too Young EP by THE SPECIAL A.K.A. LIVE! Featuring Nico
1. Too Much Too Young (Live)
2. Guns Of Navarone (Live)
3. Skinheads Symphony (Live)
(a) Long Shot Kick The Bucket (b) Liquidator (c) Skinhead Moon Stomp
Tracks 1 to 3 released in the UK January 1980 on Chrysalis/Two Tone CHSTT 7

BBC In Concert - The Specials At The Paris Theatre (15.12.79)
4. (Dawning Of A) New Era
5. Do The Dog
6. Rat Race
7. Blank Expression
8. Rude Buoys Outa Jail
9. Concrete Jungle
10. Too Much Too Young
11. Guns Of Navarone
12. Nite Klub
13. Gangsters
14. Medley: (a) Long Shot Kick The Bucket (b) Skinhead Moon Stomp

CDLTTR 5001 comes in a four-way foldout card digipak like those Universal Deluxe Editions but without the bandana. On the inner flaps are the black and white photos of the band looking up at the camera - those most closely associated with the original vinyl LP's rear sleeve. On the inner flaps are photos I've not seen before - on an estate with their feet on a pile of steel girders and on an Odeon sign. The CDs sport the distinctive Rude Boy 2 Tone logo and design. The 20-page booklet features affectionate new liner notes from Mojo's LOIS WILSON along with more black and white photos of the boys in varying poses. There's a singles page which shows those early 45s - The Special A.K.A. vs. The Selecter stamped sleeve of "Gangsters" and the Too Much Too Young Live EP and so on.

The remaster has been done by TIM DEBNEY at Fluid Mastering in the UK and to my ears it's far better than the version I've had for years (as well as tracks on the "Stereo-Typical: A's, B's & Rarities" set). There's ever so slightly more hiss on tracks like their cover of Dandy Livingstone's "A Message To You Rudy" but the clarity of the organ and the brass is far better - and you can hear those drum cracks with a force now. When you play the Jerry Dammers cut "It's Up To You" you can amplifiers buzzing and when that Bass and Terry Hall deadpan vocal kicks in - it packs an amazing punch. This time around you can almost discern Chrissie Hynde's backing vocals on the "what am I doing here" dancer "Nite Klub" (well almost). It sounds fabulous to me. The reggae backdrop to their version of Cecil Campbell's "Too Hot" features amazing clarity on those drums rolls and highhats as the boys moans about the temperature. The "court in session" vocal hijinks by Judge Roughneck on "Stupid Marriage" jumps out of the speakers at you - and what a great tune - utterly infectious stuff. Again there's momentary hiss on Dodd Coxsone's "You're Wondering Now" and quite a bit during the Acapella finish - but I'd argue that it stills sounds fresher and more alive than before. And those lyrics about council estates lack of condoms and youth just wanting to dance still get me every time.

Everyone knows and loves the "Too Much Too Young" Live EP - it's always been a total winner. But I was expecting the Paris Concert to be a bit of an Anniversary excuse roll out - but I'm thrilled to report that it's brilliant and captures the band at the very top of their Ska Bopping crowd-pleasing best. To chants of "Rude Boy" - The Specials launch into an ubertight version of "(Dawning Of A) New Era" and immediately you're hit with the great audio. Well produced by the BBC - it feels fantastically alive and fresh. They dedicate "Rat Race" to "all you students revising..." while the organ and Joe Jackson "Look Sharp!" guitar of "Blank Expression" are right in your face and bustling with newness. The Ska classic of "Guns Of Navarone" sends the crowd into a frenzy and why wouldn't it (stunning brass and flicky guitar work) - but I have to say that my heart has always been with the magical "Gangsters" which to this day sends me pogoing around my living room like a Two Tone loon (not a good look at my age). The Medley of The Pioneers' "Long Shot Kick De Bucket" with Symarip's "Skinhead Moon Stomp" (both originally on the mighty Trojan label) finishes the crowd off proper - breathless, screaming and stamping the floor for more, more, more..

Britain has produced some extraordinary bands fronting a bewildering diversity of musical styles - but The Specials have always been (for the want of better words) that little bit...well special. Get this double-CD Rude Boy joy into your life pronto.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...
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on 4 August 2004
I bought this album without having heard anything other than Ghost Town and Too Much Too Young before. And it turned out to be be one of those rare records that you fall in love with on its first play, from start to finish. The sheer energy and enthusiasm of the record is astounding, every song is a masterpiece. I was only four years old when this was released, so I can't imagine how great it must have sounded back then. The lyrics get straight to the point, lines like "try wearing a cap, keep a generation gap" really get their message across. The only very minor criticism I have is that the version of Too Much Too Young goes on a bit too long, and its a tad slow. Overall though this record will quickly find its way into your Top 5 of all time. Stop reading reviews and just buy it now.
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on 24 August 2006
This is my favourite of the 2 Specials albums. 'More Specials' is quirkier, but this is equally fun and more up-tempo. I love to leap around to this record at every oportunity, (much to the annoyance of my neighbours). I could wiffle on about all of the profound lyrics and such and Terry Hall's deadpan style, but once you buy this record then you will find out for yourself. Suffice to say that this record is well worth getting for your collection. If you like that 2 tone sound, then it really doesn't get any better than this. And at this price it is a steal!!!!
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on 9 February 2004
I bought this album, or should I say LP when it first came out, it's an absolute masterpiece, never lived up to with any of their follow up albums, although they did do some good singles - if you like Ska, and you like a good dance, or listen, this is a fab LP.
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on 25 September 2004
The Specials album is and was without doubt, a fantastic album. Anyone with any appreciation for music whatsoever, should buy this. The beats are great, the lyrics are great, the tunes are great. A great shame so much of our modern music is so dull and spiritless compared to music like this. As much a breath of fresh air as it was all those years ago. Superb !!!!!
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on 26 August 2009
If anyone owns 'The Best Of The Specials' (2008) then you might be thinking that that's enough for me. Well, think again! Because you'll be seriously missing out on the joy of discovering some other real gems, including: 'Do The Dog' and '(Dawning Of A) New Era' (it's the life affirming burst of energy that these two tracks provide), plus the intense build up to 'Too Hot' about Rude Boys carrying guns. Overall, a great album so "do the dog not the donkey" and order yourself a copy now!
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Just to add my voice to the chorus of praise for this excellent re-release. Like a lot of people here, I remember when the original came out (on vinyl, of course) and how electric an effect it had on me. This is an excellent repackaging of that landmark album with very good digital transfer of the sound and a lot of very valuable extras. It also now stands as a fine tribute to the great Rico Rodriguez whose magnificent trombone playing did so much to define The Specials' sound.

A great reissue, warmly recommended.
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on 13 May 2016
Top drawer stuff this. Just as influential now as always. With the country in as a mess now as well as it was back in 80 when I first heard it.
The ska punk fusion is fantastic not a bad track on it and the fact you get too much too young ep on it which I used to have on vinyl also.
Absolute belter of an album. And I still play it too this day and have upgraded to this great version.
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on 12 February 2006
This is without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest albums ever recorded. If your are into Punk or Ska this really is a must buy.
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