Monday, October 29, 2018

Everything We Know About The Specials' New Album "Encore"

Word's been seeping out for a bit now about The Specials new record Encore, which is being released on February 1, 2019 (it's already available to pre-order through, but not in the US yet). So, we're going to sum up what's publicly known and then some. The 10-track album will be available on vinyl and CD (the latter includes a bonus disc, titled The Best of The Specials Live). Of note, Encore is being issued on a major label by UMC (Universal Music Catalogue), which is part of the Universal Music Group. This particular imprint released Madness' most recent album Can't Touch Us Now and its current batch of new records includes The Beatles' deluxe reissue of The White Album, The Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary edition of Beggar's Banquet, and remastered back catalogue/comps from Massive Attack, Brian Eno, The Cure, The Beach Boys, John Lennon, The Police, Soft Cell, REM, Metallica, Guns n' Roses, and more. So, it'll be interesting to see what sort of promotional push this receives (The Specials are announcing their 2019 tour dates on October 30).

Encore's track list is a mix of new material and covers:
  1. "Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys" [an Equals cover]
  2. "B.L.M." [Black Lives Matter]
  3. "Vote For Me"
  4. "The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum" [a Fun Boy 3 cover]
  5. "Breaking Point"
  6. "Blam Blam Fever" [a Valentines' cover AKA "Guns Fever"]
  7. "10 Commandments" [a Prince Buster cover, featuring Saffiyah Khan]
  8. "Embarrassed By You"
  9. "The Life And Times (Of a Man Called Depression)"
  10. "We Sell Hope"
While various--but never all--members of The Specials have recorded as The Specials (King of Kings with Desmond Dekker, Today’s Specials, Guilty ’til Proved Innocent!, Skinhead Girl, and Conquering Ruler) in the years since the original group split in 1981 (into The Special AKA and Fun Boy 3), Encore marks the first time singer Terry Hall has recorded/released new material under The Specials banner since the extraordinary/incendiary Ghost Town EP.

This iteration of The Specials consists of original members Hall, Lynval Golding, and Horace Panter--joined by more recent collaborators: keyboardist Nikolaj Torp Larsen (who also co-wrote some of these tunes with Hall, Golding, and Panter), Kenrick Rowe on drums, and Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Craddock. Founder, primary songwriter, and keyboardist Jerry Dammers steadfastly has refused to participate in any Specials reunions; guitarist Roddy Radiation and singer Neville Staple were part of many reunion tours, but opted out within the past few years to pursue their own musical projects; and, sadly, drummer John "Brad" Bradbury passed away unexpectedly in 2015.

Specials biographer Paul "Willo" Williams has posted an exclusive, glowing preview of Encore, which he states picks up "where More Specials left off" (so there will be bits of rock, pop, and soul with your 2 Tone); and if "'Ghost Town' was the anthem of 1981, then Encore is the snapshot of the world today--and on a global scale." Expect sharp political and social commentary on racism, sexism, gun violence, mental illness, and more--all of which you can dance to.

Needless to say, expectations are running high for this release (fans have been clamoring for new material ever since the first few reunion tours, which started back in 2008!). Here's really hoping that the band delivers!

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