Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Top 102 Albums⁺ No 38. More Specials
Top 102 Albums⁺ No 38.
More Specials - The Specials
Take a trip with The Specials to the end of the world cabaret. Here at the cocktail lounge the band are playing easy listening. Suddenly the planes engines start to wheeze like an asthmatic barrel organ - the band slows down and plays along, their lounge/ska/cabaret/toasting/funk carnival of sound switching between exhilaration and dread.
From the opening cry of "Bernie Rhodes knows, don't argue", through to the swan song of the original band, the magnificent Ghost Town, The Specials released a body of work which can still haul these weary, overweighted bones onto a dance floor. They perhaps did save the best for some non-album singles - the aforementioned Gangsters and Ghost Town in particular but this album includes two great singles - Do Nothing and Stereotypes. They captured the sense of a society which seemed to be disintegrating fast and from which huge swathes of people felt totally disconnected.
"I walk along this same old lonely street
Still trying to find, find a reason
Policeman comes and smacks me in the teeth
I don't complain, it's not my function
Nothing ever change, oh no...
Nothing ever change"
The songs are a mixture of covers and originals, and the originals really are. Pearl's Cafe is about how a partner becomes less attractive because of their lack of empathy for a lonely old woman who drinks too much. This ain't your standard breakup song.
"When I first met you, I really thought you were a wet dream come true
Now I know that you don't care, about somebody else's nightmare"
Stereotypes (Part 1) is another short story of a destructive young man "He drinks his age in pints / He has girls every night" and who "blamed his fiancée when he caught VD / The doctor said no drink for seventeen weeks." After the seventeen weeks he goes out, drinks seventeen pints and does't make it home, "wrapped round a lamp post on Saturday night." This is the world of Ghost Town, society tearing itself apart, people destroying the place in which they have to live.
The reprise of Enjoy Yourself, which opens and closes the album, slows the song to a funereal pace and drips with irony. This band is letting you know that your cruise is heading for an iceberg. But hell, we knew that already. At least the music is good. Not just good, it's great!