This week's podcast is dedicated to members of The Beat and The Specials and their varied, colorful and creative musical endeavors. As a fan of both bands, I've always sought out their rarities and oddities. Often, its these songs, off the beaten path of what causal listeners are accustomed to hearing. that tend to be the most interesting. The impact of music by both bands is also evident in the variety of cover versions other musicians have recorded of their songs, as well as the invitations they have received from other acts to add their unique imprint.
The genesis of The Specials current reunion may have its seeds in a short, one-off show that Terry Hall and Lynval Golding performed early last year with members of The Dead 60's backing them on bass, drums and organ at the 100 Club in London. The set included an inspired version of 'Friday Night & Saturday Morning'. This is followed by a rare live version of the 'More Specials' classic track 'Stereotype' from a show in Holland in 1981 that features Neville Staple's extended chat. It is interesting to hear the live performance which is much more musical than the 'muzak' version from the album.
Following the break-up of The Specials, Terry, Lynval and Neville recorded two albums as the Fun Boy Three. I've always loved their second album and feel that many of the songs have stood the test of time. One of my favorites is 'Going Home' which documents the confusion facing immigrants caught between the pull of their old and new homes. This live version was performed on the UK TV show 'The Test'. The impact of The Specials on subsequent generations of younger bands can't be overstated. The Dead 60's proudly wore their affection for the band in their songs and I've included thier note for note cover of 'Ghost Town' as a testament.
Both Neville Staple and Ranking Roger shared similar roles as MC's and toasters in their respective bands. This has given them each a unique ability to collaborate with other artists and one another to reinterpret their own songs or to work together as they did in Special Beat. The Fun Boy Three's recording of 'The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum) is given a Latin makeover by the Mexican band Los Del Abajo featuring a guest appearance from Neville Staple. This is followed by a rare studio recording by Special Beat featuring Neville and Roger singing the 60's ska classic 'Time Longer Than Rope'.
Like Neville, Ranking Roger has been an active collaborator and contributor on a number of rare and unique tracks. His reinterpretation of The Beat classic 'Twist & Crawl' with help from the UK duo Death in Vegas rivals the original in its driving intensity. Roger also recorded a number of freestyle chats on the extended versions of a number of rare tracks by The Beat. One of the rarest is his chat 'Cool Entertainer' over the instrumental 'Which Side Of The Bed' which is a song the band rarely performed live.
One the rarest and most interesting tracks on the podcast is a version of 'Rock The Casbah' with a lively chat from Ranking Roger that was recorded by Mick Jones for inclusion on the double album version of 'Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg' (later called 'Combat Rock') that never saw the light of day. Finally, I've added a hard-to-find live version of The Beat's punky 'Two Swords' as performed by Dave Wakeling and his band Bang!, during his hiatus between the first and second incarnations of General Public in the mid-1990's.Here is the podcast play list:
Terry Hall & Friends - Friday Night & Saturday Morning (Live at 100 Club)
The Specials - Stereotype (Live 1981)
Fun Boy Three - Going Home (Live on 'The Test' 1983)
The Dead 60's - Ghost Town (Cover)
Los Del Abajo w/Neville Staple - The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)
The Special Beat - Time Longer Than Rope
Death In Vegas w/Ranking Roger - Twist & Crawl
The Beat - Cool Entertainer (Rare remix of 'Which Side Of The Bed')
The Clash w/Ranking Roger - Rock The Casbah (Mick Jones' Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg mix of Combat Rock LP)
Dave Wakeling & Bang - Two Swords (Rare live recording of Dave Wakeling's 1990's LA-based band)
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