Spin (6/02, p.107) - "...A top-to-bottom classic..."
Entertainment Weekly (5/24/02, p.95) - "...They took a curatorial approach, lacing their ska workouts with punkish vitriol...Those pining for skinny ties can view videos too..." - Rating: B
Q (1/03, p.64) - Included in Q Magazine's "100 Greatest Albums Ever"
Q (6/00, p.74) - Ranked #38 in Q's "100 Greatest British Albums" - "...Fused the energy, aggression and politics of punk with an electrified speed-addled version of ska...on a frantic musical merry-go-round..."
CMJ (1/5/04, p.6) - Ranked #6 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1980".
Vibe (12/99, p.164) - Included in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century - "...the greatest record of Britain's ska rage....they break into a creative dimension that eluded all their imitators."
This is an Enhanced CD, which contains both regular audio tracks and multimedia computer files.
The Specials: Terry Hall, Neville Staples (vocals); Lynval Golding, Roddy Radiation (guitar); Jerry Dammers (organ); Horace Gentleman (bass); John "Brad" Bradbury (drums).
Additional personnel: Rico Rodriguez, Dick Cuthell (horns).
Producers: Elvis Costello, The Specials.
Reissue producers: Nigel Reeve, Rob Owen.
Includes liner notes by Adrian Thrill.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Liner Note Author: Lois Wilson.
Recording information: Paris Theatre, London (12/15/1979); TW Studios (12/15/1979).
Photographers: Chalkie Davies; Carol Starr.
Produced by Elvis Costello, this self-titled 1979 debut quickly became gospel to the wave of ska then sweeping England. Infusing the catchy, jumpy music developed by artists like the Skatalites and Prince Buster a generation before them with punk's youthful disenfranchisement, bands like the Specials, the Selecter and Madness gave birth to a movement, one which strove for such noble goals as racial unity (then a particularly sore issue in Britain) and non-violence. THE SPECIALS states these ideals magnificently, wrapping them in tunes bursting with energy--tight, sincere and masterful.
Ska's musical style is an easy one to discern--syncopated rhythm guitar, infectious rhythms, horn sections a-go-go; vocals often reach the level of a rant, and the lyrics are usually of utmost import. The album's opener and by far its most recognized tune "A Message To You Rudy" spoke frankly and directly to those youngsters tempted towards the gangster life. "Do the Dog" is more outright social statement--an earnest appeal not to fall into life's easy, safe categories, be they military or social. Societal issues of every stripe are attacked--from "Stupid Marriage" to "Concrete Jungle."