Sunday, October 4, 2015

more specials

The Specials defied stereotypes with rat race resistance to extend jet set enjoyment with a soulful bosanova scratch.  The group had spearheaded the British ska revival with their gold selling socially conscious self-titled debut in late 1979; and in January of 1980, their EP Too Much Too Young was released as The Special A.K.A. and became a number one hit in the UK.   Both releases were put out on the 2 Tone label established by bandleader and producer Jerry Dammers.  After their first US tour in February, the band did another tour of the UK with The Bodysnatchers and The Go-Go's in June.   In the midst of all of the activity, they began recording their second album 'More Specials'.  

Dave Jordan was producer (along with Jerry Dammers and  John Bradbury) and engineer, assisted by engineer Jeremy (The Blade) Allom at Horizon Studios in Coventry.  The sessions included Terry Hall on vocals;   Lynval Golding on vocals and guitar;   Neville Staple on vocals and percussion;   Jerry Dammers on organ, piano, keyboards, and production;   Roddy Byers on guitar;   Sir Horace Gentleman on bass guitar;   John Bradbury on drums and production;   Rico Rodriguez on trombone;   Dick Cuthell on cornet, flugelhorn, and horn;   Lee Thompson and Paul Heskett  on saxophone;   with  Rhoda Dakar of the Bodysnatchers on vocals;   and Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go's on background vocals

Byers:    "[When I joined the band] Jerry wanted a punk edged guitarist at the time and I fitted the bill. I had been listening to Bob Marley and a lot of Dub stuff at the time, so I was interested in the cross-over sound Jerry’s band was doing and I had become bored with punk scene. Concrete Jungle was a song I wrote while in the Wild Boys which I brought with me to the Automatics/ Specials. I sang it live early on and that’s my lead vocal on the first album...[With 'More Specials'] Jerry was all for changing our ska/punk sound a bit too early I thought, but I managed to write three songs that fit into his new master plan."

Hall:   "I enjoyed working on 'More Specials' more than I did on the first one. I thought we were getting into some interesting areas. But we recorded it at a time when personal relationships were frayed so its going to mess it up. There was a definite argument that we should have taken some time off and let the dust settle between records but we didn’t do that...I don’t trust bands who get on. You need a certain tension to make a good group...We’re still relevant, but it’s totally different now. We were one of the first mixed bands when we formed...I think our songs still hold a relevance...I just think the whole music business changed, really. The desire to make those sort of records just went. With the advent then of ‘talent TV,’ people want to be famous, really, and that was never a reason why we started a band...We just wanted to try and find a voice."

Dammers:   "I spent my time growing up in Coventry in the '60s and '70s seeing the working-class youth bashing each other up, whether it was bashing immigrants or bashing each other at football. It was only a minority, of course, but it did seem like most districts in Coventry had some sort of gang, and some of the pubs were notorious for people glassing each other. The media was winding this up all over the country, so some kids thought that was what they were supposed to do. Meanwhile, the establishment that was actually keeping them down just carried on getting richer like they always had. The hippies wanted to form a better "alternative" society, but that just alienated some people. I wanted to change all of society from within, which was a much harder and more risky thing to try and do. The amazing thing is that it worked at all, even to the small extent that some people say it did. I often meet people who tell me that if it wasn't for The Specials they would have been racists or whatever, and that they turned to more socialist ideas because of The Specials ... The general idea that children are still starving, or dying of preventable diseases, or getting blown to pieces, is not a good thing. Even if there was such a thing as "trickle down" from capitalism, which there never has been, and never will be, what an absolutely horrible idea, that some people are only worthy of what might happen to "trickle down" from the rich."

'More Specials' went to number ninety-eight in the US, forty-nine in Canada, thirty in Sweden, twenty-eight in New Zealand, and number five in the UK, where it was certified gold.  Three singles on the album went to the top twenty in Ireland and the top ten in the UK.  

"Rat Race" ran to number ninety-eight on the US dance chart, seventeen in Ireland, and number five in the UK.  The single was not included on versions of the album released in the UK and the Netherlands.  

"Do Nothing" made it to number thirteen in Ireland and number four in the UK.  

"Stereotypes" reached forty-one in the Netherlands, twelve in Ireland, and number six in the UK.  

"Hey, Little Rich Girl" live

"Enjoy Yourself" live

'More Specials'
full album:

Side one
"Enjoy Yourself" (Herb Magidson, Carl Sigman) – 3:39
"Man at C & A" (Dammers, Hall) – 3:36
"Hey, Little Rich Girl" (Roddy Byers) – 3:35 - featuring Lee Thompson
"Do Nothing" (Golding) – 3:43
"Pearl's Cafe" (Dammers) – 3:07
"Sock It to 'Em J.B." (Dunn, Garvin, Holman) – 2:56
Side two
"Stereotype/Stereotype Pt. 2" (Dammers, Staple) – 7:24
"Holiday Fortnight" (Byers) – 2:45
"I Can't Stand It" (Dammers) – 4:01 - featuring Rhoda Dakar
"International Jet Set" (Dammers) – 5:37
"Enjoy Yourself (Reprise)" (Magidson, Sigman) – 1:46

"Rat Race" (Byers) – 3:07 was not on the UK release nor Dutch LP

Early copies of the album included a free 7" single:

"Braggin' & Tryin' Not to Lie" by Roddy Radiation and The Specials

"Rude Boys Outa Jail (version)" featuring Neville Staple AKA Judge Roughneck

"Montreux Jazz Festival" (Switzerland 1980)

0:13 Monkey Man
2:52 Blank Expression
4:58 Concrete Jungle
8:27 Stupid Marriage
12:15 Raquel
14:22 Guns Of Navarone
16:54 Do Nothing
20:36 Rat Race
23:49 A Message To You Rudy
26:44 Man At C & A
29:58 Do The Dog
32:10 Too Much Too Young
34:21 Gangsters
38:53 Skinhead Moonstomp
40:38 Enjoy Yourself

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