- 01 Oct 21
Legendary Coventry collective unveil stellar covers collection.
Currently enjoying a second creative coming following 2019’s Encore, legendary 2 Tone act The Specials celebrate almost 100 years of protest songs, which vary wildly in tone, from the powerful anti-war polemic of ‘Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes’ to the jet-black humour of Chip Taylor’s ‘Fuck All The Perfect People’.
The spiritual ‘Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around’ is a standard from the US civil rights movement, where handclaps, foot-taps and the power of the human voice send your neck-hairs skywards, before a cowpunk guitar blasts into earshot. They successfully reclaim Big Bill Broonzy’s 1938 anti-racism anthem, ‘Black, Brown And White’, which was misused by Britain’s National Front in the 1970s, although its powerful lyrics feel slightly at odds with the breezy skiffle arrangement.
The years have been kind to Terry Hall’s voice, which sounds even more expressive than their first iteration, back in the 1980s. While nobody’s vocal can compare with the bowel-shaking timbre of the late Leonard Cohen, Hall delivers a more than passable version of ‘Everybody Knows’. Talented young Bradford singer Hannah Hu takes over lead vocals on Talking Heads’ ‘Listening Wind’, over a Saharan melody that oozes yearning, while guitarist Lynval Golding sings on a powerful acoustic version of Bob Marley’s anthemic ‘Get Up, Stand Up’. Impressive stuff.
Listen to Protest Songs 1924-2012 below:
Read our interview with The Specials' Horace Panter – who talks politics, Irish memories, supporting The Clash, and the legacy of the classic 'Ghost Town' – in the new issue of Hot Press – out today: