The Specials are another of those bands who not just provided me with great listening and great memories but informed me as well. Musically, they were seriously talented, masters of their particular instruments and lords of their sound (even if they did burn out rather quickly). Lyrically, their reflections of life in Thatcherism-dominated London allowed me to understand, partially, what it was like to live in that environment, at least enough to know I was glad to be living on the other side of the world.
They were part of a number of bands who turned me from a late-70s rock fan into something more. They sounded brilliant and looked seriously cool. I still love (and wear) pork pie hats, although the winkle pickers are languishing in the back of the shoe cupboard now. As regular readers know, I still like my rock, but thanks to bands such as The Specials, The Clash, The Blockheads and others, my tastes broadened and my listening palette expanded, something I still consider valuable.
The Specials are still part of my regular listening roster. In fact, I've covered Message To Rudi in more bands than any other song (yes, I know ...Rudi isn't their song but it's probably the most popular version of it). This is also a genre Mine and Yourz (truly) share a common passion for, a line where we both stand and skank our hearts out together. It's a beautiful thing, let me tell you.
The only thing I have to add is I'm still eating humble pie over the 'should we be reviewing greatest hits albums' debate we had at the start of the year. I'm so glad I lost that one. (Mine says: me too, honey...)
VERDICT: TURN IT UP and get your skankin' shoes on
I spent a large part of 1980 and 81 as a Two Tone girl. Stovepipe black pants, white shirt, skinny black tie, V-neck jumper, sports jacket and winkle picker shoes. This was because my favourite Canberra band was Naughty Rhythms - a ska outfit who played a mix of originals and covers including, of course, a few Specials numbers. I skanked along to Ghost Town and Too Much Too Young many times. I especially loved the movement because it melded black and white musicians and wasn't afraid of including political material in its lyrics.
The Specials were -heh- especially good at this, and this collection includes some numbers from their incarnation as the Special AKA which still resonate with me, inculding Racist Friend and Free Nelson Mandela. It brings tears to my eyes when I realise that since I first heard that song, Mr Mandela has indeed been freed, led his country and has now retired.
So this CD's a welcome addition to our collection, and is guaranteed to have me acting like a teenager all over again. Ah, that was a great time. The Allniters, the Porkers, The 88s - time for me to break out my Ska Skank Down Under CD and boogie. "Naughty rhythms in in your feet/ Naughty rhythms in your head/ You've done it on the floor/ Now go do it in your bed!"
VERDICT:TURN IT UP
For more information: http://www.thespecials.com/