Artist: The Specials
Release Date: February 1, 2019
Favorite Tracks: B.L.M, The Lunatics, Blam Blam Fever, 10 Commandments, The Life and Times (Of a Man Called Depression)
The Specials, the 2 Tone UK ska revival band from the 1970s and 80s, are back with a new album! I remember back in the 1990s, the band released Today’s Specials, which was good enough but since it was all covers it felt more like UB40’s Labor of Love than anything The Specials had done before. Encore has three covers, but the rest of the album is new material. And just as they did back in the Thatcher Era, The Specials have something to say to our times with tracks focusing on Black Lives Matter, gun violence, and women’s rights (the latter with guest vocals by Saffiyah Khan). The opening track is firmly in the disco genre which made me wonder what I was in store for, but the rest of the album falls into the more expected ska/reggae/punk sounds. I’d say overall, that the album is hit and miss, but tracks like “B.L.M” and “10 Commandments” make the whole thing feel more relevant than one would expect from a 40-year-old band. The deluxe version of the album features live versions of The Specials’ classic tunes.
Hot songs spinning in my ears over the past month.
Courtney Barnett – “Nameless, Faceless”
Femi Kuti – “One People One World”
Jorge Elbrecht – “Here Lies (Feat. Tamaryn)”
Orquesta Akokan– “Mambo Rapidito”
Khruangbin – “Maria También”
Hollie Cook – “Stay Alive”
Eter Dub is a dub reggae project lead by DJ and producer Federico Balza of Mendoza, Argentina.
Title: Keith Richards: Under the Influence
Release Date: 2015
Director: Morgan Neville
This Netflix documentary follows Keith Richards as he works in the studio on new songs and travels through America to sites connected with American music. Theses scenes are intercut with archival footage of Richards and the Stones. The influences in this movie are musical – Blues, Country, & Reggae – and Richards talks about his love for music and how he creates his own. Musicians talking about music is the best kind of music documentary. It has all the joy and none of the bitterness of Richard’s autobiography. As an added bonus, Tom Waits appears for a few scene-stealing interviews.
Another week, another recommendation for an Icelandic rock band. “Lífsins Ólgusjór” by Samaris is inspired by 19th-century Icelandic poetry and laid over a reggae beat. Check out their recently released second album Silkidranga for more.
AM is from Oklahoma, Shawn Lee is from Kansas, the rhythm is from Jamaica, and the vocals are from Philadelphia (ca. 1970s). All in all, “Two Times” is an intriguing track.
Got any new tracks making you dance or sing along? Let me know in the comments.