Album Review

The Specials: The Specials

ImageElvis Costello produced all but one of the 15 tracks on this debut, but that’s not much of an indicator of what you can expect here. Thanks partly to Costello’s efforts and partly to the stylistic terrain, the Specials are characterized by the back-to-basics ambiance that also imbues many new-wave LPs. But this seven-man group, which stands in the forefront of Britain’s current ska revival, eschews both politics and straightforward rock in favor of an approach that combines calypso beats, reggae danceability and American R&B. Driving energy and a myriad of subtle musical surprises make the set a treat, particularly when it comes to such covers as “A Message to You Rudy” and snappy originals like “It’s Up to You.”

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