[7] The Specials, ‘Ghost Town’

The Specials

This place being a beacon of originality and all that, it’s difficult to tackle ‘Ghost Town’ without offering trite observations about unfortunate serendipitous events that have been reeled out a million times before. Ahem. No, we wouldn’t want to do anything like that. No. Now, wasn’t it strange how all those urban riots raged while this was at No.1? It’s as if Dammers, Hall and the gang were seers; arch-chroniclers of the rough-end of the street, so in touch with the pulse their fingers kept bobbing up and down.

OK, let’s just say that this queasy classic is powerful and insidious enough, even without the confluence of circumstance that makes it a vivid ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’. A lucky break, if we’re being grim.

The best part of 30 years removed from all that, Junior just liked the record – although she drew the rather alarming conclusion that the crazed, ghoulish “la-la-la”s were being sung by Lykke Li. Still, with a whole new set of riots surely only a further drop in house prices away, there’s an opening for Lykke to reissue ‘I’m Good, I’m Gone’ and provide a timely anthem for our skidaddle out of the chaos.

People getting angry:

[11] Go-Gos, ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’


28 years on, I still play this song – ooh – at least once every month or two. The bouncing bassline, the harmonies, Belinda Carlisle’s helium gabble, it’s all pure gold. The Go-Gos generally passed this nation by, but Terry Hall noticed them, and he certainly noticed pocket honey Jane Wiedlin. I knew they co-wrote the song and yet I never realised they had a bit of a thing going on behind his girlfriend’s back, something they might want to keep ‘em sealed about.

That’s how the story goes, anyway. It’s a perfectly formed little pop song that doesn’t need any enhancing, but that’s a cheeky bit of colour. Of course, Terry then set about draining all the colour with his morose Fun Boy Three version – not that it’s anything less than corking itself.

‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ is an anti-anthem for Junior, who obediently boings with the bass. She couldn’t seal her lips with UHU, treating every confidence as a tasty bit of news to be relayed to the widest circle. When I drive her to nursery, every bunny-hop, every speed bump taken at a lick, every mild variation in route is a major misdemeanour to be announced to mum at the earliest opportunity. The little grass. Luckily, it still seems cute. Girls, eh?

No one’s listening anyway:

[4] The Special A.K.A., ‘Gangsters’

Centred around some ruffneck shenanigans involving stolen and mysteriously returned guitars in Paris, this is a boisterous yet eerie debut. Must be Terry Hall’s dislocated vocal and the air of fairground freakshow that would come right to the fore on ‘Ghost Town’, but it packs a sinister punch even amid the skintight bounce.

We did a rudeboy skank to it – although Junior suggested I was walking “like a monkey” – before segueing into ‘A Message To You Rudy’ where she pointed out what she identified as “trumpets, Daddy”. She wants a trumpet; that’s along with a piano, a guitar, some drums, a trombone and a violin. Basically, she wants to be Dexys Midnight Runners. And maybe they wanted to be The Specials/The Special A.K.A./whatever the hell they felt like being at the time, only with a yelp to replace the whine and ersatz soul to trump the ska. Well, this is a broad church.

Don’t call me Scarface!