New Music: The Specials – Encore

in New Releases

The Ska legends are back with new material, and it’s something truly magnificent

The Specials are one of the best bands in the world. Everyone has heard at least one of their songs, even if they didn’t recognise it. Their new album, which is their first in 18 years, shows off just how talented they really are. Not only is it their first new album in years, but is also their first without Jerry Dammers, Roddy Byers who have quit the band, and the first since the death of drummer John Bradbury in 2015.

The new album is a mix of that distinct sound which The Specials have had throughout their career, and politics. The entire album is a middle finger to pretty much everything, and it’s brilliant. From the incredible ‘Vote For Me’, to ’10 commandments’, which really makes you think about how bad society is. I think it’s the contrast between the quite up-beat happy skanking which has become synonymous with The Specials, and the political lyrics which make this album so great.

It’s not often you will get bands going this political, especially if they have a reputation which could be ruined, but I can’t see there being any backfire from this album. They are addressing the problems everyone knows we have, from Brexit, to Black Lives Matter, The Tories, and Mental Health to name a few of the many topics this album covers. It’s exactly what is needed, and what we need more of. Bands with a high social stance telling people how the world really is, and raising the much needed awareness in the hope that things may start to change.

For me, 10 commandments is the stand out track of the album. The song is performed by Saffiyah Khan, an activist who protested against the EDL and was pictured donning a Specials T-Shirt. It’s spoken word too, which is extremely unexpected, but it works perfectly. Not only does it sound great, but the lyrics speak volumes to what’s wrong with society. The most striking lyrics fall quite late in the song, and are probably some of the most important song lyrics since the days of the Vietnam War, when political music was at an all time high.

“Thou shall not tell a girl she deserved it
Because her skirt was too short
She walked home, streets lights illuminating her as a target
But she started it, because she looked at him
And he finished it ’cause he wanted to”

Dare I say that this is probably one of the most important albums of all time, and although we are at the start of February, the album of the year has already been released.

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