[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:

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[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!

[20] Squeeze, ‘Cool For Cats’

Ah, 1979. I started paying attention to Top Of The Pops, Arsenal, all life’s sweetest joys. Moved to Hertfordshire in January and stayed there for 17 years (minus a dozen terms in Bristol). Pop baffled me, but that may have been down to assuming that everything Terry Wogan played was current. In that world, the Supremes were going strong and Cliff Richard was still a chart-topper. Hmmm.

Marrying new wave and pub rock, Squeeze had a boisterous appeal that worked well in the playground; to seven-year-olds a band to file alongside The Specials, The Jam and the rising Madness – stuff it was ok to like and bowl along to as if you were something else, something a stretch more streetwise than a kid with a fringe and grey shorts. If it was cool for cats, we wanted a bit of it. In essence, the single isn’t typical Squeeze, more a part within a part for Chris Difford to play, but he sounds smart and the band bounce in broad-shouldered style. The drifting middle eight’s useless though.

For all I know, Junior’s already at the age when she wants to impress her peers, and she’s got all the moves to do so. A jerky dance matched the sproinging bass and she gave an airing to this week’s trick – humming along to the tune. At the end she asked whether Junior 2 (Juniest? Minima?) liked the song now there’s scope for a blog within a blog – and then requested the next track on the Best Of. Give it a week or so, missy.