* Even when they were established, the band frequently changed their name, but to most they will always be The Specials. Forming in Coventry in the late '70s, the band were at the forefront of the burgeoning British ska movement, with songwriter Jerry Dammers founding 2 Tone records, the quintessential British ska and reggae label. Always socially relevant, their songs covered topics from teenage pregnancy in Too Much Too Young to unemployment in Ghost Town. The theme of social responsibility extended beyond their music, however, as the band were heavily involved in the fight against racism both at home and abroad, even becoming involved in the campaign for Nelson Mandela's release.
The band are reforming and going on tour in 2009, so this timely retrospective is both the perfect introduction for those who have only a passing knowledge of the band, as well as being an ideal compendium for long-term fans. The Specials have always been a great singles band, having racked up 7 consecutive top ten singles in the 3 years the band was initially together, so this 'best of' is full of memorable songs. As for the bonus DVD content, The Specials live shows have always been high-energy affairs, so to have some of the early appearances caught on film like this is a thrill for any fan of the band. The video collections are also great - Ghost Town in particular is iconic, but the other videos are no slouches either.
Still relevant and still singing, The Specials have been so much a part of British pop music for the last 30 years that this retrospective is full of genuinely essential music.
2. Message To You Rudy (2002 Digital Remaster)
3. Nite Klub (2002 Digital Remaster)
4. Concrete Jungle (2002 Digital Remaster)
5. Too Much Too Young (Live)
6. Blank Expression (2002 Digital Remaster)
7. Doesn't Make It Alright (2002 Digital Remaster)
8. Rude Buoys Outta Jail
9. Rat Race
10. Man At C & A (2002 Digital Remaster)
11. Do Nothing
12. Stereotype/Stereotypes (Part 2) (Medley) (2002 Digital Remaster)
13. International Jet Set (2002 Digital Remaster)
14. Friday Night Saturday Morning
15. Why (Edit)
16. Ghost Town (Extended Version)
17. What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend (2002 Digital Remaster)
18. Racist Friend
19. War Crimes (The Crime Remains The Same) (Edit)
20. Nelson Mandela (2002 Digital Remaster)
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