The Specials
Guy Lochhead, 21/02/12
The Specials were a two-tone ska group formed in the punk scene of Coventry, England. The band wrote politics into their music, their lyrics and themselves. As a conscious, mixed-race band at a time when racism was fairly normal, anti-racism was an integral part of their formation, but their politics went beyond that include comment on unemployment, youth dejection and other contemporary social problems under the Conservative Thatcher government. Despite their outspokenness, they managed to score a number of Top 10 hits; ‘Ghost Town’ is perhaps their most well-known. By the time they recorded their second album, the band was growing apart. Three key members left in 1981, and the band broke up in 1984. Since then, they have reformed with various combinations of ex-members, though main political engine Jerry Dammers has not been involved, preferring to pursue activism. The Specials achieved some incredible things as an interracial ska/punk band from the North of England… They were popular and subversive, and put more informed politics than most contemporary punk groups to a danceable beat. The band was a volatile combination that was tied to its context, and as such only really lasted for one album. However, unlike other cultural artefacts of a specific period, this album stands up well today since, sadly, we still have the same social problems. I will include their first album and perhaps look at Dammers individually.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *