The Specials: The Best of the Specials (EMI)

 |   |  <1 min read

The Specials: The Best of the Specials (EMI)
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.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Reggae articles index

BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH INTERVIEWED (2000):  The people's poet laureate

BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH INTERVIEWED (2000): The people's poet laureate

Britain's most popular serious performance poet for more than two decades, Benjamin Zephaniah, laughs as he recalls hating poetry as a kid. If you said you liked it, it was as if you were... > Read more

HERBS, NEW ZEALAND'S POLITICISED REGGAE REVOLUTION INTO THE HALL OF FAME (2012): Hard tings an' times

HERBS, NEW ZEALAND'S POLITICISED REGGAE REVOLUTION INTO THE HALL OF FAME (2012): Hard tings an' times

When Herbs emerged at the start of the 1980s they were a very different band from the avuncular, mainstream entertainers they became. The original five-piece was managed by the former president... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

ORNETTE COLEMAN, LOVE REVOLUTION 1968: The Italian job

ORNETTE COLEMAN, LOVE REVOLUTION 1968: The Italian job

I thought I knew all about Ornette Coleman, a man nominally described as a jazz musician but among the most unconstrained musical geniuses of the 20th century.  I’ve got a couple of... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Browne of Black River Drive

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Browne of Black River Drive

When it comes to hard rock from New Zealand, you are spoiled for choice . . . but making a serious entry into the international stakes are Black River Drive whose second album Quicksand is a real... > Read more