- 01 Feb 19
Encore provides a stellar return from ska legends, The Specials.
The first track off Encore left me scratching my head a bit. 'Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys' is a perfectly serviceable disco-funk tune - sprinkled with Isaac Hayes and dipped in Hot Chocolate. It's just that it was somewhat unexpected coming from Coventry's finest exponents of second-wave ska.
The mild shock had worn off by track three, with 'Vote For Me' bringing us firmly back to terra firma. The scathing indictment of mendacious politicians features liberal lashings of upstroked guitars, augmented chords, a horn section and a Hammond B3 - if I'm not mistaken - peeking through the mix.
While we're on the subject of playing to one's strengths, lyrically The Specials were never shy of social and political commentary - it's practically their defining characteristic. Some of their recurring themes like endemic racism are articulated here. On 'B.L.M' (Black Lives Matter), Lynval Golding recounts a tale of growing up in Windrush-era Great Britain. Elsewhere, as on 1979s 'A Message To You Rudy', youth delinquency gets the beady eye: 'Embarrassed By You' bemoans knife-wielding yobs. Back then it was pork pie hats; now they're wearing hoodies.
On a particularly topical note, model/activist Saffiyah Khan issues her ı10 Commandments - a feminist rap that takes aim at social media haters while mentioning femoids, feminazis and Prince Buster. That's proper infotainment: scathing observations you can dance to. Welcome back...