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Friday, 15 May 2015

Alphabet Beats #129: S is for....The Specials 1977-81

S is for...


I wish to state from the outset of this post that some people might be a bit disappointed because I've only spotlighted a particular period of The Specials history and have not told the whole musical story. I'll take that on the chin and state the reason for only focusing on the first couple of albums and the singles up until 'Ghost Town'.

Whilst the music that followed was quite interesting in places it never really gripped me like those first two albums and that great batch of singles released between 1979-81. Some of you reading this might have actually enjoyed the series of albums that followed and that's good for you, but for me it was never the same after Terry Hall, Neville Staple and Lynval Golding to form The Fun Boy Three.

So let's kick off with a concert from the classic line up of The Specials. This show was recorded by the BBC for their series Rock Goes To College (which if my poor memory serves me was on BBC2). The show took place at the Colchester Institute, Essex in 1979.



One of the things I loved about The Specials when they appeared on the scene was they were like a live version of Trojan Records hits album. A lot of that music I had heard at football and even the school disco! I had picked up the old singles in junk shops for 10p a time and was thrilled to see a band with an amazing amount of energy clearly enjoying bringing a fresh breath to these old classics.

Formed in Coventry in 1977 they were first called The Automatics but I'm guessing that they discovered that Island Records had a band sign to them with the same name and so they became The Coventry Automatics. In 1978 Staple and Roddy Radiation joined the band and they became The Special AKA. A huge break came for them when they got the support with The Clash for the 'On Parole Tour' (Suicide from New York were the main support band for the tour, you couldn't have found a more bizzare threesome out on the road at the time!).

Opening night of the 'On Parole Tour' Advert

What was funny was The Special AKA name was only made "official" about four hours or so before they actually hit the stage at Aylesbury Friars. For more details about that night click here, the article contains a review of the show by Garry Bushell who was then writing for Sounds music paper.

In 1979 Jerry Dammers formed 2 Tone Records.

The first single on the new label would be a split single with The Selecter. 'Gangsters' would go on to be a Top Ten hit that summer!

Enough! Time to let the music do the talking! Click on the links to enjoy.











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