TJR presents… Top 10: The Specials

TJR presents… Top 10: The Specials

– Irresistible action from the leaders of the most noble 2-Tone revolution.
  • Runtime: 41m.
  • Compiled from 207 collection entries @ 14-Oct-2019.
  • Fantasy Album Rating: 9.99 “An elite masterpiece”
  • To access shuffle-play or avoid in-play interruption due to territorially blocked videos, it might be best playing directly via YouTube external-link.png

Ghost Town by The Specials (1981)
(Jerry Dammers)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Reggae
TJR saysSingle release in June, 1981, the gloom and doom so perfectly reflecting the state of the nation at that time. For me, not only the Specials crowning glory, but the song of the year and the greatest #1 single ever to grace the UK pop charts.

War Crimes (The Crime Remains The Same) [7" version] by The Special AKA (1982)
(Jerry Dammers)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Alternative Folk
TJR saysA single release in November, 1982, and the first Specials 45 not to chart. Peppered with flavours of the middle east, this masterpiece was delivered uneasily in 5/4 time and kept you on your toes musically and lyrically. Rhoda Dakkar & Stan Campbell front the sound of the new Specials and do so splendidly on this occasion, mourning the loss of life in the brutal Middle Eastern conflicts, whilst pleading with the war mongers to cease and desist from barbarism and slaughter. In a just world this would have been a #1, but conservative radio said no, and that was that.

Do Nothing [7" version] by The Specials (1980)
(Lynval Golding)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Reggae
TJR saysSingle release in December, 1980. The album version of two months earlier was improved upon by Jerry's idea for “The Ice Rink String Sounds”, which was basically a String Synthesizer played by guest Paul Heskett of The Swinging Cats. This was perfection on top of perfection. Lynval takes a leaf out of Terry's 'human observer' book on this mighty tune, which stands as a contender for the song of the year, with a walk-n-skank bounce courtesy of Horace Panter’s mighty bass and John Bradbury’s amazingly instinctive stick taps. Existential reggae, who knew?

Doesn’t Make It Alright by The Specials (1979)
(Jerry Dammers, Dave Goldberg)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Reggae
TJR saysFrom their debut album “Specials” in October, 1979. “Doesn’t Make It Alright” is the album’s definitive statement: “Just because you're a black boy, just because you're a white, it doesn't mean you've got to hate him, it doesn't mean you've got to fight. It doesn't make it alright, it doesn't make it alright, it's the WORST EX-CUSE in the world”. Horace Panter would later comment: “My heart swelled when we played it, it was the essence of what we were doing.

Sock It To ‘Em JB by The Specials (1980)
(Rex Garvin, Clayton Dunn, Pete Holman)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Cerebral Pop
TJR saysFrom their second album “More Specials” in October, 1980. Their stupendous soul cover of “Sock It To ‘Em JB” (Rex Garvin and The Mighty Cravers, 1966) closes side one with incredible vitality; JB could just as easily stand as a tribute to John Bradbury as James Bond, for it was the drummer who brought this one to the table and his gun-fire playing is pure dancefloor dynamite.

Too Hot by The Specials (1979)
(Cecil Campbell)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysFrom their debut album “Specials” in October, 1979. The album almost splits 50-50 with originals and covers – they’re equally excellent either way. Side one closes with a mighty version of Prince Buster’s “Too Hot” – the vocal interplay between Neville and Terry is a sheer joy.

Gangsters by The Special AKA (1979)
(Jerry Dammers, Lynval Golding, Stephen Panter, Terry Hall, Neville Staple, Roddy Byers, John Bradbury)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysThe debut single in May, 1979. The classic opening statement, reflecting on their own home-grown brand of rude-boys, reworked Prince Buster's “Al Capone”, just 15 years on from the original. “One of those records that really changes your life, I mean it actually does, rather like I suppose The Damned's first single, where you wake up the next day and nothing's ever really quite the same again.” ~ John Peel, June, 1980

Stereotypes / Stereotypes part 2 by The Specials (1980)
(Jerry Dammers - Neville Staple)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Dubbeat
TJR saysFrom their second album “More Specials” in October, 1980. Side two opens with a 2-part version of “Stereotype”; firstly featuring vocals and lyrics by Terry, then secondly by Neville. The message is the same all the way on the dub-heavy track, pointing a finger at the vacuous drink-driving loser who gets drunk and spreads VD: “He's just a sterotype, he drinks his age in pints, he has girls every night, he doesn't really exist.

Stupid Marriage by The Specials (1979)
(Jerry Dammers, Neville Staple, Mark Harrison)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysFrom their debut album “Specials” in October, 1979. A superb new episode in Prince Buster's Judge Dread saga, here reinvented by Neville as Judge Roughneck.

The Boiler by Rhoda with The Special AKA (1982)
(Rhoda Dakar, Sarah Jane Owen, Stella Barker, Nicky Summers, Penny Leyton, Miranda Joyce, Jane Summers)

9.9 “All-time classic” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysSingle release in January, 1982. The harrowing follow-up to “Ghost Town” cared not-a-jot for commercial momentum, putting date rape on the Top 40 agenda, despite the inevitable radio airplay ban. Rhoda Dakar’s lyrics were based a real-life experience of one of her friends in the late 70s. With the unreleased song in her heart, she took it with her when the Bodysnatchers split and she's joined here by another ex-Bodysnatcher, Nicky Summers, guesting on bass guitar. “Ghost Town” was probably the bleakest single ever to top the UK Charts, but this follow up made it seem like a Mary Poppins out-take. Once heard it was never forgotten and indeed, Jerry Dammers is on record as saying “it is the only record that was ever made quite deliberately to be listened to once and once only”. All credit to Rhoda for having the balls and the perseverance to get it out there.

TJR presents… Top 10: The Specials (via Spotify)

  • Runtime: 40m.
  • To access shuffle-play or overcome other issues with the embed application, it might be best playing directly via Spotify external-link.png

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