Monday, May 05, 2008

Tom Clarke: Why The Specials Still Matter

The Specials feature on the May cover of MOJO magazine and within the excellent article is an interview with The Enemy frontman, Tom Clarke. Here he talks about the lyrics and influence of The Specials:

"The Specials' lyrics were written in times of recession and disarray, when there wasn't much positive to speak about, so to realise that those lyrics are still relevant today is obviously quite sad. I didn't realise it, until it was pointed out to me, that the title track of our album, We'll Live And Die In These Towns, which is about the whole essence of a city that's full of culture but people just don't take notice of it - that it's a dead town - that it was clearly the same city that The Specials wrote about in Ghost Town. We also wrote a song, This Song Is About You, after a conversation with an old school friend who said all of our old school friends have got kids, which I couldn't believe, at our age, which is Too Much Too Young, isn't it?

It's clear how much society has changed since 20, 30 years ago, but with massively key elements that have stayed exactly the same. There's still fighting on the dancefloor, there's still young girls having babies and being forced to be a mother at an age before they've had a life. The Specials were ahead of their time in seeing how society was heading, and one of the first bands to comment on it in a blunt and straight forward way.

Besides Ghost Town, the other song that epitomises The Specials is Too Much Too Young. It's the no-nonsense lyrics and the energy. They were amazing, incredibly tight band. Listen to the drum fill at the start of that song. There's not even been any music played yet, it's just two drums being hit, but it's already a fucking surge of energy. You can see how much it got audiences jumping up and down in anticipation. The Specials used music as a form of escapism, but the music still sounds like a party. Not many bands combine that contrast. If you don't entwine your lyrics in riddles and metaphors, lots of people can relate to that straight away. That's what set a band like The Specials apart then, and still does today."

*The Full 11 page feature on Coventry band The Specials can be in the May issue of MOJO magazine.

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