The Specials

Formed 1977.

ska band

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'Ghost Town' - "What a statement!"

Contributor Colin talks about the political statement behind The Specials' number one

Featured in BBC Music Clips


The Specials, also known as The Special AKA, are an English 2 Tone and ska revival band formed in 1977 in Coventry. Their music combines a "danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk's energy and attitude", and had a "more focused and informed political and social stance" than other ska groups. The band wore mod-style "1960s period rude boy outfits (pork pie hats, tonic and mohair suits, and loafers)." In 1980, the song "Too Much Too Young", the lead track on their The Special AKA Live! EP, reached number one in the UK. In 1981, the unemployment-themed single "Ghost Town" also hit number one in the UK Singles Chart.

After seven consecutive UK Top 10 singles between 1979 and 1981, several members of the group abruptly left to form the Fun Boy Three. Continuing on as "The Special AKA" (a name they used frequently on earlier Specials releases), a substantially revised Specials line-up issued new material through 1984, including the top 10 UK hit single "(Free) Nelson Mandela". Afterwards, founder and songwriter Jerry Dammers dissolved the band and pursued political activism.

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Links & Information

BBC Reviews

  1. Review of More Specials

    More Specials 2002

    Reviewed by Nick Reynolds
    More Specials has lots of quality, and is almost a classic.
  2. Review of The Specials

    The Specials 1979

    Reviewed by Chris Jones
    A wrily comical antidote to political and cultural indifference anywhere.
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