Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?
The Specials- Special
Everybody who hears The Specials loves The Specials. The music of the Ska pioneers still brings people together like few bands ever have. However, there are still some unfortunate souls out there who are not familiar with the legendary group. Plus Ultra salutes The Specials and dedicates this post to the yout.
The Specials - Wikipedia Shortly after being formed by Dammers, Golding, and Panter, the band performed minor gigs under the name "The Coventry Automatics". Terry Hall and Roddy Radiation joined the band the following year, and the band changed its name to The Coventry Specials, and then to The Special AKA.
Joe Strummer of The Clash had attended one of their gigs, and invited The Special AKA to open for his band in their On Parole UK Tour. This performance gave The Special AKA a new level of national exposure, and they briefly shared the Clash's management. In 1979, Dammers decided to form his own record label, and 2 Tone Records was born. On this label, the band released "Gangsters," which became a Top Ten hit in 1979.
The band had begun wearing two-tone mod/rude boy/skinhead-style tonic suits, along with other elements of late 1960s teen fashions. Their debut LP was Specials, produced by Elvis Costello. "Too Much Too Young" was a number one hit in the UK singles chart, despite controversy due to the song's lyrics, which could be interpreted as promoting contraception.
Their second album, More Specials was not as commercially successful as previous recordings. The band had seemingly abandoned the ska genre, despite having been largely responsible for its revival in the United Kingdom. The album included a more experimental approach to music, including influences from pop, new wave, and even muzak. The band also experimented with what could be described as a dark, almost psychedelic reggae.
"Ghost Town" hit number one in 1981, but 2 Tone was in trouble. Staples, Golding and Hall left the band, and Dammers added Stan Campbell, to begin working again under the group's previous name Special A.K.A.. The resulting album, In the Studio, was not very successful, although the songs "Racist Friend" and "Nelson Mandela" were hits. The latter contributed to making Mandela a cause célèbre in Britain, and became popular with anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. Dammers then dissolved the band and pursued activism.
Over the years various members of the band have reformed several times to tour and record in Specials and non-Specials related projects. But until present there has never been a complete reunion of the original lineup.
Terry Hall continued in the music industry with his 1980s pop band Fun Boy Three, with fellow ex-Specials Neville Staples and Lynval Golding. They enjoyed commercial success with a small collection of hits, including "Tunnel of Love", "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)". From 1984 until 1987, Hall fronted The Colourfield, with some commercial success. After they disbanded, Hall went on to pursue a solo career working mostly in the New Wave genre). He also did some vocal work on a Dub Pistols' album.
In the early 1990s members of The Beat, from nearby Birmingham, who had collaborated with The Specials on tracks such as Nelson Mandela, teamed up with members of The Specials to form the band Special Beat. The band performed a live set that was a mixture of The Specials and The Beat songs. They released a few concert albums.
In 1998, at the height of ska's mainstream popularity on American radio and MTV, most members of The Specials reunited to record the new studio album, Guilty 'Til Proved Innocent. Notably absent from the record were Terry Hall and Jerry Dammers. The record also featured guest vocals by Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen of Rancid.
The song "Little Bitch" appeared in John Hughes' popular movie Sixteen Candles, starring Molly Ringwald. Songs by The Specials and Special A.K.A. have appeared in the Dance Dance Revolution video game, the TV series Father Ted, and in the soundtracks for the movies SLC Punk, Snatch, Shaun of the Dead, Grosse Pointe Blank and 'An Extremely Goofy Movie..
In 2001 Pork Pie Records released Spare Shells: A Tribute to the Specials. The record featured recent ska bands performing versions of songs written or popularized by The Specials. Bands such as The Busters, The Porkers, Citizen Fish, Rude Bones and Voodoo Glow Skulls were featured.
Terry Hall - vocals
Lynval Golding - vocals, rhythm guitar
Neville Staples - vocals, percussion
Jerry Dammers - keyboards
Roddy Radiation - lead guitar
Sir Horace Gentleman - bass guitar
John Bradbury - drums
Rico Rodriguez - trombone
Dick Cuthell - trumpet
The Ted Leo and the Pharmacists song "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" is a tribute to The Specials. Ted Leo references some of the members' names in the song's chorus.
Third wave ska band, Big D and the Kids Table recorded a cover of "Little Bitch" on their LP, How It Goes.
Notable female backing singers on the Specials first two studio albums include: Chrissie Hynde, Rhoda Dakar (Then of The Bodysnatchers, later The Special AKA), Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey (then together as The Go-Gos).
More Specials (1980)
In the Studio (as Special A.K.A.) (1984)
Today's Specials (1996)
Guilty 'Til Proved Innocent! (1998)
Skinhead Girl (2000)
Conquering Ruler (2001)
Live at The Moonlight Club (1997)
Peel Sessions (1987)
Blue Plate Specials (1999)
Ghost Town: Live at Montreaux Jazz Festival 1995 (1999)
The Singles Collection (1991)
Coventry Automatics Aka the Specials: Dawning of a New Era (1994)
Too Much Too Young: The Gold Collection (1996)
Concrete Jungle (1998)
Best of The Specials (1999)
Very Best of the Specials and Fun Boy Three (2000)
Ghost Town (2004)
Stereo-Typical: A's, B's and Rarities (2005)
Greatest Hits (2006)
"Gangsters" (1979) UK #6 - billed as The Special A.K.A. - other side by The Selecter
"A Message To You Rudy"/"Nite Klub" (1979) UK #10
"The Special A.K.A. Live!" - ("Too Much Too Young"/"Guns Of Navarone"/"Long Shot Kick De Bucket"/"Liquidator"/"Skinhead Moonstomp") (1980) UK #1 - EP
"Rat Race"/"Rude Boys Outa Jail" (1980) UK #5
"Stereotype"/"International Jet Set" (1980) UK #6
"Do Nothing"/"Maggie's Farm" (1980) UK #4
"Ghost Town" (1981) UK #1
"The Boiler" (1982) UK #35 - Rhoda & The Special A.K.A.
"Jungle Music" (1982) - Rico & The Special A.K.A.
"War Crimes" (1982) UK #84 - The Special A.K.A.
"Bright Lights"/"Racist Friend" (1983) UK #60 - The Special A.K.A.
"Nelson Mandela" (1984) UK #9 - The Special A.K.A.
"What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend" (1984) UK #51 - The Special A.K.A.