The Specials who enjoyed a triumphant 2019 with the release of the critically acclaimed Encore, their first ever number one album, coming 40 years after they exploded onto the music scene and launched the 2 Tone movement, make a very timely return with the release of their brand new album Protest Songs – 1924 -2012. Released on September 24th2020 through their new label Island Records, the album features twelve singular takes on specially chosen protest songs across an almost 100-year span and shows The Specials still care, are still protesting and still pissed off! You can also catch the Specials on tour across the UK.

The Specials emerged in the late 1970s as the multiracial flagship of the 2 Tone movement, and sang of racism, unemployment and injustice making a very clear political statement every time they stepped on stage. It’s fitting, then, that in 2021, at a time when the world is rife with social, racial and political unrest, that the Specials have made this album of Protest Songs and are once again reflecting the society we live in and taking a stand against all forms of injustice. A typically unpredictable collection of unique takes from folk to post-punk, righteous uplift to biting satire, and from Kingston to Alabama, the album is a powerful reminder that there are no fixed rules to what makes a protest song. All that’s required is the combination of something that needs to be said with music that needs to be heard. “People have been using music as a vehicle for protest since time immemorial,” says bass-player Horace Panter. “Injustice is timeless.”

In February 2020, Horace, Terry, Lynval and co-producer Nikolaj Torp Larsen gathered to begin work on a reggae record, the follow up to Encore. Then Covid hit and plans were put on hold. During the first lockdown and following the murder of George Floyd and the waves of protest that grew around the world, Terry suggested that they make a different kind of record as a response to recent events.

The trio started by picking some personal favourites. Amongst them were The Mothers of Invention’s Trouble Every Day (Horace), Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows (Terry) while Lynval was keen to sing Bob Marley’s classic rebel song Get Up, Stand Up. Other favourites included Talking Heads’ Listening Wind and Trouble Every Day which was about the Watts riots in 1965. Spending months combing YouTube and books for songs they had never heard before, they discovered or re-discovered Big Bill Broonzy’s angry 1938 blues Black, Brown and White and the Staple Singers’ stirring Freedom Highway, written for the marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. The Dixie Jubilee Singers first recorded the spiritual Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around in 1924 but it was the civil rights movement that tweaked the lyrics and made it an anthem.

The album was recorded in a studio in West London in May of this year with regular band mates Nikolaj Torp Larsen on keyboards, Kenrick Rowe on drums and Steve Cradock on guitar. Hannah Hu, a young singer from Bradford, fronts Listening Wind and sings back-up on Freedom Highway and Everybody Knows.

The Specials remain one of the most electrifying, influential and important bands of all time and this new record and the success of Encore proves that they are every bit as relevant and vital as they were in 1979.

TOUR DATES 2021

August

Date Venue
Sat 28th Dreamland Margate
Tue 31st O2 Academy Bristol

September

Date Venue
Thu 2nd Plymouth Pavilions
Fri 3rd Windsor Hall Bournemouth
Sat 4th Brighton Centre
Mon 6th Barrowland Glasgow
Tue 7th Usher Hall Edinburgh
Thu 9th O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester
Fri 10th Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Sat 11th Coventry Building Society Arena
Mon 13th Bonus Arena Hull
Tue 14th Empress Ballroom Blackpool
Thu 16th O2 Academy Birmingham
Fri 17th Motorpoint Arena Nottingham
Sat 18th The Dome Doncaster
Mon 20th O2 City Hall Newcastle
Tue 21st Rivermead Reading
Thu 23rd Roundhouse London
Fri 24th Roundhouse London
Sat 25th Troxy London

Tickets are now on sale

www.thespecials.com