The Specials Protest Songs 1924 – 2012 Limited Yellow Vinyl
Release Date 1st October 2021
In February 2020, Horace, Terry, Lynval and co-producer Nikolaj Torp Larsen gathered to begin work on a reggae record, the follow up to Encore. Then Covid hit and plans were put on hold. During the first lockdown and following the murder of George Floyd and the waves of protest that grew around the world, Terry suggested that they make a different kind of record as a response to recent events.
The trio started by picking some personal favourites. The Mothers of Invention’s Trouble Every Day (Horace), Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows (Terry) while Lynval was keen to sing Bob Marley’s classic rebel song Get Up, Stand Up. Other favourites included Talking Heads’ Listening Wind and “Trouble Every Day” which was about the Watts riots in 1965. Spending months combing YouTube and books for songs they had never heard before, they discovered or rediscovered Big Bill Broonzy’s angry 1938 blues Black, Brown and White and the Staple Singers’ stirring Freedom Highway, written for the marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. The Dixie Jubilee Singers first recorded the spiritual Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around in 1924 but it was the civil rights movement that tweaked the lyrics and made it an anthem. Soldiers Who Want to Be Heroes is another example of a song that found its true calling after the fact. Written by the poet Rod McKuen in 1963, it was rerecorded three years later, during the dog days of the Vietnam war.
Folk singer Malvina Reynolds, best known for Little Boxes, provides two spiky odes to the contributions of ordinary people: I Live in a City and I Don’t Mind Failing in This World: And because the Specials have always had a taste for black comedy, they’ve chosen two songs by bluesman Jerry McCain (My Next Door Neighbor) and Wild Thing writer Chip Taylor (Fuck All the Perfect People). “Terry said, ‘I’ve found this song, listen to this,’” Horace remembers. “We all sat there open-mouthed.”
The album was recorded in a studio in West London in May of this year with regular bandmates Nikolaj Torp Larsen on keyboards, Kenrick Rowe on drums and Steve Cradock on guitar. Hannah Hu, a young singer from Bradford, fronts Listening Wind and sings back-up on Freedom Highway and Everybody Knows.
3.I Don’t Mind Failing In This World
4.Black, Brown And White
5.Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around
6.F_k All The Perfect People
7.My Next Door Neighbor
8.Trouble Every Day
10.Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes
11.I Live In A City
12.Get Up, Stand Up