The Specials are one of Britain’s most iconic groups whose hits are still filling dance-floors to this day. This Spring the group’s albums have been given the reissue treatment, all three of their pioneering studio albums re-released, collected together with extensive bonus tracks including all the non-album singles, live concert versions, radio sessions and more; collected together with the blessing of the bands founder and main song-writer Jerry Dammers. Despite having been a big fan of the era, and having always been keen on those classic songs we’ve all heard like ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Too Much Too Young’, ‘Monkey Man’, ‘A Message To You Rudy’ and ‘Nelson Mandela’; I’d never listened through the albums themselves so I was keen to take this opportunity to immerse myself in their catalogue and learn more about the history of the band.
The Specials were formed in the 1970’s, originally known as The Coventry Automatics, the brainchild of keyboard player Jerry Dammers, who hand picked the group to realise his vision of a multi-cultural band who could fuse the two tones of punk and reggae to rock against racism and Thatcherite Britain. Terry Hall’s unique vocals often took centre stage paired with reggae MC vocals from Neville Staple. That same dual approach was taken with the choice of guitarists; Lynval Golding, playing the authentic reggae chops, and Roddy ‘Radiation’ Byers on lead-guitar, adding some punk and classic rock’n’roll to the mix. John Bradbury on drums and Horace Panter on bass were both sensational players whose skills gave The Specials a far more solid groove than many other popular bands at the time.