Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Specials Preview "Vote For Me" From New Album "Encore"!

Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, Horace Panter (l-r)
(By Steve Shafer)

To help whet fans' appetites for the new Specials' album Encore (to be released on CD/LP on February 1, 2019 from UMC), the band is previewing their terrific song "Vote For Me" on their YouTube channel and FB page.

Upon first listen, it's sort of a shock to hear the opening bars of "Vote For Me" musically quote a bit of "Ghost Town" and then settle into the moody, minor-key territory staked out by The Special AKA's In the Studio (think the reggae and jazz of "Racist Friend," "Alcohol," and "What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend," plus a bit of Rico's Jama; there's also a wonderful, Madness-like bridge with strings in there, too!). On one hand, it makes sense for the remaining Specials (Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, and Horace Panter--joined by top collaborators Nikolaj Torp Larsen on keys, Kenrick Rowe on drums, and Steve Craddock on guitar) to go this route--they're essentially time traveling to pick up where The Specials left off with More Specials and the Ghost Town EP--which is exactly what Jerry Dammers and John Bradbury did with The Special AKA after Terry Hall, Neville Staple, and Lynval Golding left The Specials to form Fun Boy 3 (some of the songs that appeared on The Special AKA's In the Studio were written before the split for The Specials' then-planned third album; and it should be noted that Panter, Golding, and Radiation did guest perform on a few In the Studio tracks).

So, in some sense, "Vote For Me" is a safe move, reminding the listener of Specials' sounds and songs of old that are ingrained on fans' hearts and minds. Yet, it's also sort of audacious, given how The Specials' dissolution was driven in part by dissatisfaction with the musical direction Dammers had taken with More Specials (he was the band's primary--though by no means sole--songwriter and arranger), as well as his leadership style (his given nickname "The General" was not meant to be endearing). Whether intentional or not, with "Vote For Me" they've validated Dammers' vision for the evolution of The Specials' post-"Ghost Town" music that was realized through In the Studio. It's just a shame that Dammers, Staples, Radiation, and Bradbury (RIP) couldn't be back for the ride, as "Vote For Me" successfully keeps faith with The Specials' collective sound and mission.

Lyrically, "Vote For Me" is pointed commentary on the corruption, lies, self-dealing, and moral bankruptcy of political leaders in England and America during this dreadfully bleak age of Brexit and Trumpism ("You tore our families apart" has to refer to the absolutely horrific, repugnant, racist, and inhumane Trump policy of sometimes permanently separating migrant/asylum-seeking kids from their parents at the US-Mexico border)--it continues the kind of "government leaving the youth on the shelf"/should be serving the greater good and needs of the people criticism expressed back in '81. And it's fantastic how the chorus references Queens, NY's bruddah's The Ramones and William Shakespeare (and Bob Marley's nod to the bard in "Get Up, Stand Up") to hammer home its point about political deception.

Every vote for you, do you promise
To be upright, decent, and honest
To have our best interests at heart?

You understand why we don't believe you
You're way too easy to see through
Not the best places to start

There are no rocks at Rockaway Beach
And all that glitters isn't gold

You're all so drunk on money and power
Inside your ivory tower
Teaching us not to be smart

Making laws that serve to protect you
But we won't ever forget that
You tore our families apart

There are no rocks at Rockaway Beach
And all that glitters isn't gold

So, every vote for you, do you promise
To be upright, decent, and honest
To take away all of the fear?

You said you wait for us to elect you
But all we'll do is reject you
Your politics bore us to tears

There are no rocks at Rockaway Beach
And all that glitters isn't gold

"Vote For Me" is a powerful and more than credible opening salvo from The Specials' Encore. Based on this track, it seems like fans' expectations for the new album should be high.

+ + + +

For more on the new Specials' album, check our "Everything We Know About The Specials' New Album Encore" post from earlier this fall.

In addition, you can read The Duff Guide to Ska's write-up of the reissue of The Special AKA's In the Studio from a few years ago.

Lastly, unlike the some of the stone-filled beaches I've seen in England, New York City's Rockaway Beach is pretty much all sand and you can take the A subway line to get there.

+ + + +

+ + + +

1 comment:

Dread&Locked said...

Sounds a lot like Jackie Mittoo's Wall Street, which should be taken as an hommage. Terrific song, great lyrics.