Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Return Of The Specials...

...and it's about time.

In the late 70's, a great thing happened. a band from Coventry called the Coventry Automatics formed. They were influenced by Desmond Dekker, Punk and the rise of unemployment and urban decay within the confines of their home. Within a few years, this band played toured the world, started a musical movement known as 2-Tone, gave people a reason to dance and be socially conscious, reached the top of the charts and just as quickly as they ascended, as is the case with most bands, they imploded. This band became The Specials and were one the most influential bands to come out of England's 70's Punk and Ska scene. Whereas The Clash headlined arenas and Sex Pistols became infamous, The Specials left a musical brilliance that is still recognized today thanks to artists such as Damon Albarn, Tricky and Lily Allen.

In the following years, the members went their separate ways with a wide assortment of solo and group projects (Fun Boy Three, The Special A.K.A., The Tearjerkers, The Colourfield, The Special Beat and so on) but none of which had the fame and influence of the band that started it all. As these years continued passing, a funny thing happened in the mid-90's, The Specials reunited.

Armed with four of the original members, the 90's version released a couple of albums, 1996's Today's Specials and 1998's Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent to varying degrees of commercial and critical success. Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent attempted to capture some of the magic of classic-era Specials while presenting them to a newer generation with a more modern sound. It, however, lacked one vital element to their sound, Terry Hall.

For years, Hall refused to talk about anything related to The Specials. Every great song and performance, the Dance Craze film, the 2-Tone movement and the brilliant "Ghost Town" release were unspoken topics of conversation when approaching him. It wasn't until a few years ago that he spoke about the band's 25th anniversary in a special edition of Mojo. Since then, Hall has been more vocal about the band's past as well as releasing a couple of demos the band recorded in the early 80's.

All of this brings us to celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Specials and a new reunion featuring six of the seven original members, including Hall (keyboardist Jerry Dammers will not be taking place in this reunion). This reunion was made official with a recent appearance on Later...With Jools Holland (speaking of reunions, it's time for Holland to reunite with Squeeze) and plans for a tour with possible recordings. To The Specials, welcome back, it's been far too long.

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