Album #475 – More Specials

Album #475

The Specials’ second album is a vast improvement over their self-titled debut. Keyboard player and main songwriter of the group, Jerry Dammers, took over the role of producer. The sound is more warm on the album and embodies several influences including lounge music (International Jet Set), 60’s American soul (Sock It To ‘Em JB), r&b, ska, reggae, pop and jazz. But, with Dammers’ production, the band is able to shine through. Political lyrics are still present (Man at C&A was written about nuclear war, Stereotypes is about racism) and the humour that the group are famous for is even more prominent. Also present on this album are Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go’s, singing backing vocals. Wiedlin and lead singer Terry Hall were dating at the time and even co-wrote one of the Go-Go’s biggest hits, Our Lips Are Sealed. But, this album is a huge influence in 2 Tone ska. You can hear it’s influence on 90’s bands No Doubt, Sublime and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. What I love most is that the music is so happy and upbeat yet, the lyrics paint a different picture. Just like UB40, the Specials were clever at putting a strong, political message within an upbeat song. Any artist that can do that is worth their weight in gold. Sadly, this would be the last album with the original line up but, it would change music forever. Just like 2 Tone in the late 70’s, the ska revival of the 1990’s would embody these same sounds and modernize them. For that, the Specials will always hold a place in my book. Other highlights include: Enjoy Yourself, Rat Race, Pearl’s Cafe, I Can’t Stand It and Enjoy Yourself (Reprise). Overall, I give More Specials, 5 out of 5.

Next: Arc of a Diver by Steve Winwood

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