THE SPECIALS Cover 12 (Non Ska) Protest Songs

3 October 2021

Band: THE SPECIALS (Coventry, UK)
Who: Legendary ska squad
Active: 1977–1981, 1982-1984, 1993, 1996–2001, 2008–present
9 studio albums (this one included)

New album: PROTEST SONGS 1924-2012
A selection of past protests songs written by big names such
as Bob Marley, Frank Zappa, Leonard Cohen and more.
Released: 1 October 2021 – order info here

NME says: “In their early days, The Specials were protest song incarnate. Their very multicultural make-up was a confrontational statement to audiences infested with
National Front thugs. Since their self-titled 1979 debut album, tracks tackling racism,
war, unemployment and national decay helped make them one of the most vital and
socially progressive bands of their age. Their 2019 reunion album ‘Encore’ pulled few
punches too: Black Lives Matter, Windrush, racial integration and gang violence all
came in for The Specials’ uniquely incisive treatment… this is an album of thoughtful
and considered dissent rather than the righteous rage of old. The Specials, perhaps,
have realised sooner than most that all this shouting is getting us nowhere.”

Full review here. Score: 4/5.

Turn Up The Volume: The Specials were a political band from day 1 on, fighting racism, sexism, fascism, and every form of intolerance, inequality, and social isolation. In these restless times, a protest album is no surprise and it’s also not a surprise that it comes
from these ska legends who deliver their first non-ska album with this one.

So it feels a bit strange hearing The Specials swing from soul to reggae, from folk to gospel, from boogie-woogie to pop. Surely, the songs’ content is about rejecting any sort of social injustice, but the over musical tone is upbeat, spirited, hopeful, and totally entertaining.

Stream album here…

1. ‘Freedom Highway’ (The Staple Singers)
2. ‘Everybody Knows’ (Leonard Cohen)
3. ‘I Don’t Mind Failing In This World’ (Malvina Reynolds)
4. ‘Black, Brown And White’ (Big Bill Broonzy)
5. ‘Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around’ (traditional)
6. ‘Fuck All The Perfect People’ (Chip Taylor & The New Ukrainians)
7. ‘My Next Door Neighbour’
8. ‘Trouble Every Day’ (Frank Zappa & Mothers of Invention)
9. ‘Listening Wind’ (Talking Heads)
10. ‘Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes’ (Rod McKuen)
11. ‘I Live In A City’ (Malvina Reynolds)
12. ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ (Bob Marley)


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