Day 232: The Specials – Specials

18 Oct

Monkey Man

Ska.  I’m not entirely sure what I think of it.  That’s probably why I’ve been given The Specials 1979 relese this Dad Rock Tuesday.  There are moments of this band’s influential self-titled debut that I love, and moments that . . . well . . . not so much.

I’ve never heard an entire ska record before this, and most music of this genre that I’m familiar with comes from early-nineties 3rd wave ska bands.  You know, groups like Sublime, Reel Big Fish, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  It’s pretty clear who influenced these bands, but they definitely took a few guitar-related liberties in crafting their own sounds.

Specials is much closer to reggae than punk rock.  While this did lead to a fairly interesting 45 minutes for me, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.  As someone fairly unfamiliar with anything classified as reggae (other than the musical stylings of Bob Marley), it’s not all that strange that I found the reggae aspects of this record a little tough to swallow.  Experience tells me that a few more listens to this, as well as other ska/reggae records, should clear that up.

Additionally, there’s plenty of good ol’ punk influence to be heard within Specials.  While that is probably what kept me happy throughout most of the album, it does merge pretty nicely with the reggae elements.  Angry lyrics, angsty song titles (i.e. Little Bitch and Stupid Marriage) and fast guitars will always fly with me, even when put behind reggae vocals and an island vibe. While I am uncertain about this record after a single listen, I probably won’t remain that way for long.


3 Responses to “Day 232: The Specials – Specials”

  1. Yuanny Dollar October 19, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    Wow, Mr. Swole, I’m glad your dad gave you this one to listen to. I had forgotten about it. What a great album. I listened to damn near the whole thing after I read this post. There was a great little movement with these guys and Madness (pre-Our House radio-ready junk) and The (English) Beat.

    • Ras Baba Chops October 19, 2011 at 11:35 am #

      Mr. Ear, if you desire to hear a bit more of the music that gave birth to The Specials, I would recommend to you not so much the ska as such (not that there is anything wrong with it) but Rock Steady and particularly anything produced by the late Leslie (King) Kong. In fact, an excellent primer and a real classic would be the soundtrack to The Harder They Come. Here is the going to be the clincher for you – it is a very short album. The early Toots and The Maytals is killer stuff.


  1. Day 233: [Various Artists] – Soundtrack to The Harder They Come « Swole Ear - October 19, 2011

    […] and just don’t have the time to do my usual pre-album research.  Suggested in the comments of yesterday’s post as a way to enhance my ska knowledge bank by teaching me about the music referred to as rock […]

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