Friday, December 31, 2010

"hang the DJ"

here's a frightening and utterly disturbing photo of coventry's the specials. bar the heavy, real, and utmost serious racial/historic implications, it also makes me think of the group's fragile inter-band relations (then and now). by 1981, specials' leader, keyboard player, and 2 tone label-founder jerry dammers (pictured in the noose) was putting the finishing touches on "ghost town," the anthemic UK chart-topper that hit #1 as inner city race riots ripped across england. despite the synergy and success, the boys simply couldn't get along. within a few short months, singers terry hall, neville staples, and rhythm guitarist lynval golding had quit the band and formed the equally fantastic (though far less dynamic) fun boy three. undeterred, dammers soldiered on w/ the (pre-specials) special a.k.a. mantle and eventually released 1984's in the studio (w/ help from specials drummer john "JB" bradbury and bassist horace panter). gone but not forgotten, punk lead guitarist roddy radiation was left to pursue his rockabilly and americana jones like the rebel that he is... in 2009, the original specials line-up (bar dammers and horn players rico rodriguez and dick cuthell) re-formed to sold-out concerts and new merchandise opportunities for a 30-year anniversary celebration. amidst much media baiting and cat-calling, the two camps—despite their trademark "nobody is special" mantra, cries of unity, and strong racial solidarity—still couldn't get along. equally busy w/ his sun ra-influenced jazz excursion, the spatial a.k.a. orchestra, dammers was still the outsider (and one-time dictator?) in a group he not only co-founded and branded, but one in which he'd also written the majority of the songs. with a fall 2011 UK tour on the cards for the dammers-less crew, i wonder what 2011 will bring in specials-land???

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