Monday, March 2, 2009

Jerry Dammers vs The Specials: The War Of Words Continues on The Specials Web Site

While the 'Ska Wars" between Jerry Dammers and his band mates continues in the venerable pages of the UK's finest newspapers and music magazines (though to be fair it seems to be Jerry who is on the offensive at the moment), the real hand-to-hand combat is taking place online in the community forum pages of The Specials Web site.

The band's Web site is the location for a mean spirited debate that continues to play out and where Dammers (or someone posing as him or working for him) under the name 'Ice Rink' (see avatar above) makes his pointed and passionate case to other members of the band (namely guitarist Roddy 'Radiation' Byers who regularly posts on the community forum as 'Jett Rink' - see avatar below). While I have no direct evidence that 'Ice Rink' is actually Dammers, a quick review of this persons online profile shows the poster is a musician interested in 'space travel' (a hidden reference to Dammers Sun-Ra inspired band 'The Spatial AKA Orchestra perhaps?). The Ice Rink String Sounds were credited to Jerry as part of the song 'Do Nothing'. Further, the 'Ice Rink' name can also be seen as a dig at Byers online profile 'Jett Rink'. Again, I'm using some junior detective conjecture here, but it seems fairly plausible.

The sniping between Dammers and Byers within the online confines of the band Web site has taken on legendary status. It reached a fevered peak last September prior to the band's performance at Bestival on the Isle of Wight. In fact, the war of online posts by Dammers and his supporters criticizing the reunion got so heated that the Web site administrators decided to shut down the threads drawing further criticism from some fans and Dammers supporters. Dammers has also called Byers out in the statement he released when the band announced the reunion tour in January, that "Radiation’s claim on the internet that Jerry wanted to do “slowed down jazz versions of Specials songs” is a complete lie."

The latest clash of online posts between the two came quickly on the heels of Dammers latest interview published in yesterdays Sunday edition of The Independent. Dammers latest interview differs little from his other recent interviews. Indeed, Dammers continues to claim he has been unfairly prevented from re-joining his band mates for the reunion. "I think I've been completely reasonable, rational and level-headed throughout this entire thing. I haven't expected anything unreasonable from anybody. I have been treated in the most despicable manner." More intriguing was Dammers critique of the band's decision to be outfitted in suits from a well known UK-based maker of Tonic Suits. As an avowed radical he is disturbed by what he sees as the "extremely conservative" musical approach of his peers and alarmed by their plans to dress in tonic suits made by a company that boasts of the exclusively British origin of its garments. "Is that what The Specials was about? I don't know," he asks rhetorically.

Dammers online avatar 'Ice Rink' continued the the critique online posting: "As for suit comment.. Who would of thought it The Specials kitted out in Designer suits and sponsored by a mobile phone company !!, it all smells of some sort of corporate branding!! What next Pepsi or butter tv adds? This brought a response from Byers who posted: "The suits were my idear some of us had suits some of us didn't so when a friend of mine put me in touch with Ace suits and they said we could have one each i for one was very pleased-(maybe we should of got them in China? i think not!!) And so Gerald has finally admitted he did want to change the old tunes.. funny he called me a LIAR the other month? Poor sad Jerry." You can read the thread on The Specials community forum here.

While this continued drumbeat from Dammers may help sell newspapers and stoke the raging debate among fans of the band who have split into pro and anti-Dammers camps, sadly it only seems to paint him into a corner as a difficult personality who feels entitled to run the whole show without input from his band mates.

If there is a bright spot in all this war of words, it's in The Independent article where Dammers hints at his desire to extend an olive branch to his nemesis Terry Hall (though it is still couched in some need to take credit for Hall's success). "Obviously I made loads of mistakes in The Specials. I'm not trying to take all the credit. But Roger Daltrey stuck with Pete Townshend through his development as a human being and I think Terry [Hall] owes me that, given it was my songs that brought him to the attention of the public in the first place."

The saga continues. Enjoy it while you can.

1 comment:

Willie Baterola said...

"Despite all this I never give up hope of some sort of reconciliation."