Album of the week: The Specials – Encore

The Specials - Encore album cover

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

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: 10 Commandments

For fans of:

  • The Beat
  • The Selecter
  • Madness

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New releases Friday 25 Jan – Reviewed and rated

Here’s my view on what were the best albums released last Friday 25th January. I’ve reviewed the top three if you want to discover more about the albums before listening. Links below. There’s also a Spotify sample playlist so you can get a feel for the artists.

Julia Kent – Temporal

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Nils Frahm – Encores 2 (EP)

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Rat Boy – Internationally Unknown

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Balthazar – Fever

Rating: 7/10

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Sneaks – Highway Hypnosis

Rating: 7/10

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Bring Me The Horizon – Amo

Rating: 7/10

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The Beat feat. Ranking Rodger – Public Confidential

Rating: 6.5/10

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Gum Takes Tooth – Arrow

Rating: 6.5/10

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Toy – Happy In The Hollow

Rating: 6/10

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Mike Krol – Power Chords

Rating: 6/10

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Swervedriver – Future Ruins

Rating: 5.5/10

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The Dandy Warhols – Why You So Crazy

Rating: 5.5/10

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Nicola Cruz – Siku

Rating: 5/10

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New Music Friday 25 Jan – What to listen to

Things are really stepping up this Friday with a glut of new releases to plough through. There’s a new EP from Nils Frahm to look forward to, some loud guitars from the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and Mike Krol, and the return on classic ska ban The Beat. Even the new Dandy Warhols album sounds promising.

It’s going to be a busy week…

Nils Frahm – Encores 2 (EP)

Swervedriver – Future Ruins

Julia Kent – Temporal

The Beat feat. Ranking Rodger – Public Confidential

Bring Me The Horizon – Amo

Mike Krol – Power Chords

Balthazar – Fever

The Dandy Warhols – Why You So Crazy

Nicola Cruz – Siku

Rat Boy – Internationally Unknown

Toy – Happy In The Hollow

Gum Takes Tooth – Arrow

Sneaks – Highway Hypnosis