Music

Music

The Specials

"Love is so much more powerful than hate. Hate is destruction and love is production." Lynval Golding.

The Specials are back with ten songs on a brand new album. Influential, important and exhilarating live, they are a band embedded in this country's DNA. It is impossible to envisage the musical landscape without them, from the startling, angular Gangsters in 1979 to their swan song, the epoch-making Ghost Town in 1981. They infused ska with punk, homegrown political anxiety with wider issues. The Specials' ascendancy was swift. Two years, seven hit singles including two number ones, two hit albums, sell-out tours – the mass stage-invasions and audience energy only adding to the myth. They were everywhere; on Top of the Pops, Radio One, nightclubs and school discos. At the time, the nation could not have seemed more polarised: far right youth cults, violence on the streets, conservative government. Their demise, however, was rapid.April 1981. The Specials spend ten days recording Ghost Town in an 8-track home studio in Leamington Spa. The song spends three weeks at number one in July 1981 culminating in a Top of The Pops appearance 9th July 1981. In the dressing room afterwards the band split. In retrospect, maybe a signifier of how weird those times were is the fact that they are introduced on screen by both Jimmy Savile, and a nervy Adam Ant.This line up of the Specials would never go in the studio again. "We did More Specials, the second album," says Lynval. "And oh God, someone left the band every day, the band would fall apart, then the next day they would rejoin again."In 2009, with Britain in another recession, the Specials reform to play live - without founding member Jerry Dammers who clashes with the others during initial rehearsals. Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, Horace Panter, John Bradbury, Neville Staple and Roddy "Radiation" Byers play a sell-out tour and the offers keep coming."There was never a long term plan," says Horace, the Special's extremely grounded, polite bassist. "But before we knew it, it was 2012. Then Neville quit, out of ill health, Roddy quit thank goodness, so four of us were left, all facing in the right direction, all in agreement."Towards the end of 2015 Lynval, Brad and I got together in a little rehearsal room and we recorded some demos on a handheld mic," continues Horace. "Then of course Brad dies [in December 2015, of a heart attack]. It took a year or so to pick ourselves back up again." 

But eventually they do, and they record. Ten songs – originals and some covers. Encore.