The Specials In Concert – 1979 – Past Daily Soundbooth
Kicking off the week with a concert via The Specials, recorded for BBC Radio 1’s series In Concert. The Specials represented a breakthrough of sorts. They mixed danceable Ska, the Jamaican Music genre made popular in the 1960s, with Punk sensibilities of the 1970s. And the result was a wildly successful band, during Punk’s heyday.
Because they represented the White Working Class along with the Jamaican/West Indian Population in London at the time, they signaled a new genre looming on the horizon, one that entertained on the surface, but carried with it a highly charged message of social change. It was the political climate at the time that made them so popular to many – they represented racial diversity in a band at a time when movements such as Rock Against Racism were gathering popularity across England.
The Specials have been together, on and off since 1977, their longest stretch was from 1977-1984. But they have had reunions since then – and are currently together, albeit with a few personnel changes, still performing and gigging around Europe and the UK.
Although they were very popular in their native UK, they were less well-known on this side of the Atlantic. Possibly because audiences over here were still processing Punk and all the connotations, and The Specials represented a new look, meaning a whole other genre for the American audience to get behind.
This concert, recorded in 1979 for the BBC Radio 1, puts the band during their peak period and the beginning of a string of top 10 singles between that year and 1981 when three of the founding members left the band to form Fun Boy Three.
Their fourth incarnation began in 2008 with several personnel changes, but the essence of the the band is still there and continues to this day.
But to get an idea of what they were all about in 1979, check this concert out and play it loud.