One of the most of the extraordinary chart-toppers if all time, The Specials masterpiece, Ghost Town has been wheeled out a lot in the last few years, be it because of global recession, or last summers riots in London (and elsewhere). It remains a prescient a damning indictment of government, of elements of youth culture and of the far-right, but if it remains appropriate 21 years after its release, that is nothing to how it summed up how it was to live in the UK in 1981.
Yet Ghost Town was The Specials swansong, just two years after their début single, Gangsters. The band had fallen to pieces, and Ghost Town was a final chance to make something coherent, and they couldn’t have picked a better statement.
The Specials had formed in Coventry in 1977, but really found their identity after supporting The Clash (Joe Strummer was an early supporter of the group) where a member of fellow support band Suicide had been beaten up by members of the National Front, at that point on a mission to disrupt as much of society as possible. The band realised they had to make music to unite these people – a curious mix of the hippie and punk aesthetics. Read the rest of this entry »