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28 October 2014
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Special Brew
Stan - the suede-head prince

2-Tone is back where it belongs

Coventry 2-Tone merchants Special Brew released their first album, Versions, in May and celebrated with an album launch party at The Jailhouse. Pete Chambers went along to join the party.


The bones of many a late-lamented 2-Tone band are finally turned to dust. A new breed has arrived and the natural order is complete, for Special Brew have come of age with a glorious testament to those who went before and a tantalising taster of what is to come.

Tonight’s launch gig for their first CD “Versions”, showcased a band in full control of a genre, the music is always treated with respect but that doesn’t mean their is some kind of purist ‘kick’ going on here. Far from it. This brew is a fresh brew, that will take chances with this most classic of Coventry music.

It began tonight with a super-meaty in-yer-face version of Little Bitch and the full-to-the-rafters audience took the hint - they came to dance and dance they did.

Skanking their way through a two tone sea of pure nostalgia, the audience (a healthy mix of age colour and creed) did their best to soak up the endless energy the band were constantly giving off.

Special Brew
Special Brew

Lead man Stan, looked every bit the suede-head prince, saying all the right grooves doing all the right moves, and making us think of a certain Jez Dammers circa 1979. 

I mean how could we not when a slide-show to the left of the stage was constantly feeding us images of the ska-filled glory days, with a sunglass-ed Neol Davies looking especially cool.

Not all the audience however had my agenda, many weren’t even around in those days of course and that’s the joy of this band, pretty much a pick and mix “whatever floats your boat” attitude. That said, whatever route you choose they all lead to the same thing, an infectious need to dance and have a great time.

Specials, Bad Manners, The Selecter The Beat and Madness were all taken care of thanks to the superb musicianship of this eight-piece.

You can’t have ska without brass and you can’t have Special Brew without Jason, Gemma and Andy, providing a glorious mix of sax ‘n’ bone’.

Rhythm sections work when they work together and drummer Darren and Simon on the bass proved the point, providing a well grounded groove for guitarist Darrell and keyboard wizz Mark to work on.

Forget ‘tribute band’, forget even ‘covers band’, it’s pointless pigeonholing them, because Special Brew are as inventive, dynamic and exciting as any band can be and tonight 2-tone was back where it belongs...in Coventry!

last updated: 25/05/05
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