1979 and 1980 were the glory years of the so-called “second wave” of ska music – first wave in Jamaica twenty plus years before and now the 2Tone wave came crashing out of Coventry. The Specials seized the charts by the scruff of the neck with a string of hits. And even WH Smith felt the vibe as the his ad from 1980 shows.
But…by the end of 1981, political pop gave way to bubblegum pop. However, fans of bands like The Specials, The Selecter and The Beat have remained fiercely loyal to the present. And it would be remiss of me not to mention that I co-authored the biography of Neville Staple, front man in The Specials, titled Original Rude Boy.
Neville Staple is still touring with The Neville Staple Band and I filmed this gig on my iPhone in Chelsea a while back. He puts on a great performance as you can see. Neville is not playing with The Specials anymore but treats you to all the classic songs. I worked with Mr Staple on his biography Original Rude Boyback in 2009.
The start of the 1980s was dominated by the sound of 2Tone – a new take on the Jamaican ska sound of the 1950s and 1960s. It had a broad appeal across Britain with ordinary youth, both black and white. As a sound, it was just easy to like – a fun beat and sardonic lyrics. Trouble was – it was all over by 1981. Well, some bands lingered but The Specials split acrimoniously and two members of The Beat became General Public while the other two formed Fine Young Cannibals.
The United States had started to open up to 2Tone and then it was gone. So when Ranking Roger discovered that the seed planted in the US in the early 80s had grown into a mighty musical oak by the mid-80s, he got some ex-Specials together with him and formed Special Beat.
When I was writing Neville Staple’s biography – ‘Original Rude Boy’ – I was given a hold-all full of photos of The Specials and all kinds of memorabilia. This included a load of backstage passes from Specials gigs and other events Neville had attended around 1979 to 1981. Some of this stuff made it into the book but others didn’t. They all got scanned or photographed by me so take a look at this.
The front man from The Specials has been in touch to tell me about a new musical venture – I’m allowed to publish this press release now, for your edification! And hopefully, you might spare a few pennies for this! FLIPRON release their brand new single The Comet Returns on 10 September. The song is a collaboration with legendary Specials frontman Neville Staple who sings lead vocal & co-wrote the lyric.
This is the first time that the band has collaborated in this way. As Flipron songwriter & frontman Jesse Budd says: “We’d been working on an instrumental with a 2-Tone meets Spaghetti Western feel, but thought that it could be more atmospheric with some ad-libs & shouts – as there’s no-one who can do that as well as Neville, we asked him! We had a rough idea for the spoken section in the middle & Neville developed this into his own thing too. He puts a huge amount of energy & personality into what he does. We couldn’t be more delighted with the result – we think the whole tune has come alive with his contribution.”
The Comet Returns is the first single from the band’s new Firework Shoes album produced by Rat Scabies, which is to be released in October. The band will be touring the UK to promote both single & album, including a London date with Neville Staple on Friday 7 September at Islington Assembly Hall.
As you may know – I wrote Neville Staple of The Specials’ biography which was published in paperback this year – Original Rude Boy. Came as a bit of a surprise to discover that Neville was a bit of a lad back in the day and I mean burglaries, fights with knives and other bad behaviour, or what he calls “Neville things”.
But he was real Rude Boy and there’s no doubting it. I still see him and former Specials roadies Trevor Evans and Rex Griffiths about. They haven’t changed a bit. Neville is truly enigmatic with The Specials performing Ghost Town on Top Of The Pops.