It’s been 18 years since The Specials last stepped into a studio, but with Encore they clearly decided it was time to put the world to rights again – and in the current political climate it feels just as necessary as ever.
The album starts with a couple of tracks that are a departure from standard Specials fare. Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys is a funk-laden, almost disco-like affair and a cry out for interracial harmony.
The funk journey continues, as does the calling out of racism, on B.L.M. Lynval Golding’s autobiographical monologue on the treatment dished out to him as a black man from the days of Windrush to modern-day USA.
Terry Hall provides his own monologue to depression and self-loathing on The Life and Times (Of a Man Called Depression), as does guest vocalist Saffiyah Khan on 10 Commandments, a heavy dub-laden number calling out sexism and sexual violence against women – to my mind the best track on the album.
Elsewhere there are more typical Specials numbers to delight hardcore fans. Blam Blam Fever provides us with an upbeat ska track deriding gun culture, while Vote For Me is another classic Specials number shining the light on hypocritical politicians.
Reggae gets a good airing on Embarrased By You, where Golding perhaps shows his 67 years a little in his rant against the “youth of today”.
There’s even a little tribute to The Doors on Breaking Point, a proper Oompah number that shares a lot of DNA with Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) as it roasts the twisted world of social media.
They may be a little long un the tooth these days, but Tje Specials feel remarkably fresh and just as relevant as when they first stepped onto the scene 40 years’ ago.
Bonus points also for the deluxe edition of this album with features a cracking live set from Le Bataclan.
Release date: 01 February 2019
Standout track: 10 Commandments
For fans of:
- The Beat
- The Selecter