Bar at the Lion's Den hotel in Cape York Peninsula, Australia
Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion on music, travel and the arts by writer Graham Reid
The Specials: The Best of the Specials (EMI)
Graham Reid | | <1 min read
Listening to this 20-track compilation (which comes with an excellent DVD of videos and film footage) reminds you just how reductive the recent ska revivalist bands have been.
In the late 70s/early 80s the Specials out of Coventry delivered more than just that kickin' good time dance music which covers bands have recently picked up on. The Specials were a band with layered and politicised lyrics, a rare meltdown of punk, dub, pop and ska, and used their multi-racial line-up and diverse musical interests to expand and grow what could have been an otherwise narrow genre.
There have been plenty of Specials compilations in the past -- and it's a measure of how good they were right from the start that about half the tracks on their debut album turn up here -- but this one opens with Gangsters (which oddly enough rarely appears on collections), has the full six minute version of Ghost Town and closes with the album version of Nelson Mandela.
Along the way you'll find yourself catching passages which sound like oddball blues, 50s rock'n'roll, funky boogie-woogie and, of course, JA-inspired ska.
An object lesson for ska revivalists, and a thorough (and throughly enjoyable) collection which has the added advantage of images to back up the music.
For a very long time from the mid Seventies bassist/producer Dennis Bovell was the go-to guy when British artists wanted an authentic deep dub sound. His work with poet Linton Kewsi Johnson has... > Read more
Released a few weeks back, this highly inclusive, 34-song double disc got repeat play in the car stereo because it isn't always our default position of "barbecue reggae" (although there's... > Read more
The annual Laneway Festival in Auckland has become one of the hottest on the music calender: hottest as in the site at Silo Park (which has to import shade tents) can be blistering in the summer... > Read more
Pete notes that while this is neither Danish nor a souffle it does contain rum. It's an old family favourite apparently.
"The parentals picked it up when blowing through some roadside diner... > Read more