Record of the day: The Specials, "Too Much Too Young"

Record of the day: The Specials, “Too Much Too Young”

The Specials
Too Much Too Young (CD EMI Gold 7243838333)

Listening to this album means being immediately taken back in time, when at the end of the '70s black and white checkered optical fashion, dark glasses and gangster hats were all the rage while the English charts pulsated to the rhythm of ska, which literally exploded in the space of a couple of years.
Among the best groups that combined Jamaican influence and new wave flavors were the Specials, a band founded in Coventry that in a short time collected a series of infallible hits including “A Message to You Rudy”, “Nelson Mandela”, ” Ghost Town” and “Too Much Too Young”.

The group was also responsible for the foundation of what would become the symbolic label of the ska phenomenon, 2-Tone records, which brought together a large number of artists dedicated to this style in England.

Terry Hall's peculiar voice bounced with surreal tones above Roddy Radiation's hyperkinetic guitar, in a pungent mixture that brought you irresistibly towards the dance floor. Songs like “Do the Dog”, “(Dawning of) a New Era” and “Rat Race” are still capable of sparking enthusiasm at any party, especially if listened to at full volume and accompanied by copious doses of dark beer .

Noisy and insolent music, the English ska of those years was very different from the original model born in Jamaica, decidedly more relaxed, and could easily go hand in hand with punk as an expression of the discomfort and desire for revenge of the British youth proletariat; it is no coincidence that their first album was produced by Elvis Costello and the Specials were chosen by the Clash as a support group for many of their concerts, thus increasing the
circle of his admirers even among the rock public.

Compared to their colleagues such as Madness or the Beat, the Specials perhaps possessed less humor and instrumental cleanliness but they had an overall compactness that pushed them like a dynamo both in the original compositions and in the covers of beloved songs such as “You're Wondering Now” by the Skatalites and “Monkey Man” by Toots and The Maytals; now all you have to do is polish your two-tone shoes, run a coat of brilliantine through your hair, start this CD which brings together many of their hits (brilliantly remastered) and get on the track.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.