This year is the 30th birthday of the song "Ghost Town" by the Specials a song that defined an era, it is one of my favourite songs by the specials and i thought i would shear this article and interview i stumbled across on the independent online.
check out the video after the article Iconic !
The Specials' biggest hit was eerily prophetic about inner-city malaise in Thatcherite Britain in 1981 - and went to number one just as rioting erupted throughout the nation. Hugh Montgomery charts the story behind the song, while Paul Bignell and Mike Higgins speak to the key players
Sunday, 3 July 2011
Strikers are taking to the streets. Youth unemployment is rife. The political and economic parallels between Britain in 2011 and 1981 may be self-evident, but musical reactions to today's tempestuous times are conspicuous by their scarcity. Thirty years ago, however, there was one anthem that defined that summer of discontent. On 11 July 1981, the Specials' "Ghost Town" hit the top of the charts, where it stayed for three weeks – the day before it reached No 1, rioting erupted across Britain. It was an elegiac portrait of the band's Coventry home town, but its message resonated far beyond the Midlands, chiming with a country feeling the bite of Thatcherite cuts and galvanised into unrest by April's Brixton riots. "Government leaving the youth on the shelf ... No job to be found in this country," Neville Staple and Terry Hall memorably sang to a backdrop of strident brass, haunted-house organ and loping bass, the groove's eerie Middle Eastern flavour as unsettling as the lyrics. Meanwhile, to compound the disquiet, the video offered a road trip through post-apocalyptically empty London streets.
The unrest contained within the song mirrored the band's own struggles. Formed in 1977, the group became pioneers of a cross-cultural sound that fused the languor of reggae music with the raw anger of punk. Meanwhile the founding by their chief songwriter, Jerry Dammers, of the 2 Tone Record label fermented the sound into a bona fide youth movement, snappily suited and multiracial. By 1981, however, and despite hits including "Gangsters" and "Too Much Too Young", they found themselves hobbled by internecine troubles, which came to a head just as "Ghost Town" peaked. Hall, Staple and Lynval Golding walked out on the group following an appearance on Top of the Pops.
Since then, the band has been through various incarnations and re-formations, though never achieving the same impact. In 2009 they embarked on a glowingly received 30th-anniversary reunion tour, but the hope of seeing the full, original line-up back together remains a distant one: Dammers and his former bandmates continue to be estranged. Their legacy, nevertheless, lives on, with the influence of their sound reaching far and wide, from Massive Attack to Lily Allen. Now here's hoping that some more acts see fit to pick up their political, as well as musical, mantle.