The Specials @ Splendour turned Nottingham into a Ghost Town…..

It has taken a few years for the Record Press author to finally attend his local annual music festival, Splendour, at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham. And in particular it took the headliners The Specials to convince me to attend Splendour 2015, for they were one of the defining bands of my generation along with The Jam, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Smiths………

the specials at splendourBut I wasn’t alone……..At least 25,000 citizens of Nottingham joined me, leaving the city centre something of a ghost town!! It was appropriate therefore that The Specials opened their set with their 1981 No1 “Ghost Town”, which begins with a siren followed by the haunting woodwind, reminiscent of the ghostly soundtrack to be found in Hanna-Barbera’ cult 1970s cartoon “Scooby Doo”.  Over a reggae bass line, a West Indian vocal announces warnings of urban decay, unemployment and violence.

Few songs evoke their era like The Specials’ classic “Ghost Town”, a depiction of social breakdown that provided the soundtrack to an explosion of civil unrest.  The record was released on 20th June 1981 against a backdrop of rising unemployment, civil unrest, unease and menace which became a portent and harbinger of doom when Britain’s streets erupted into rioting almost three weeks later, ironically the day before “Ghost Town” reached No1 in the UK charts.

This is the great appeal of The Specials to my generation. Not only did they convey a strong social message and social narrative for Margaret Thatcher’s early 80s Britain but they did it with biting, acerbic wit and great musicianship, specials ghost townexemplified by a marvellous horn and woodwind section in evidence at Spleandour 2015.

Thirty five years on, the music of The Specials still has a freshness, salience and pertinence for a younger generation who are once again deprived of job and life opportunities, not least the opportunity to own their own home. You certainly didn’t have to be a potbellied, middle aged man like the Record Press author to appreciate the passion, power and pertinence of The Specials’ performance last Saturday night.

All the topics and themes covered in The Specials’ songs like “Do Nothing”, “Rat Race”, “Stereotype” and “Too Much, Too Young” are as relevant in 2015 as they were in the society of the late 1970s and early 1980s. And that’s the depressing thing……For all the hope and optimism of Tony Blair’s social experiment, “New Labour”, sadly nothing has significantly changed for the youth in 2015!!

Therefore for those in our youth ranks who are not familiar with Mum & Dad’s music, but are feeling alienated and disenfranchised from society, may I suggest you listen to this Top5 Best Specials songs –

Top5 Best Specials songsspecials rat race

1)    Ghost Town ( No1 1981 )

2)    Do Nothing ( No4 1980 )

3)    Rat Race ( No5 1980 )

4)    Stereotype ( No6 1980 )

5)    Too Much Too Young ( No1 1980 )


specials too much too youngWhich is your favourite Specials song and why? Let us know in the Reply Box below.

Celebrate your love of The Specials in your home or office, by ordering your favourite Specials song in a vinyl single or CD single format; framed and mounted as a picture disc souvenir. You can also personalise it with an inscribed / engraved plaque…… 


Framed vinyl singles and framed CDs with a personalised plaque, make unique presents or original framed specials vinyl singlegifts for a special celebration  / special occasion ie a Wedding ( Wedding First Dance Song ), an Engagement Party ( Our Song ), a House Warming Party ( New Home ), a 21st, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th Birthday ( How about the No1 song on the day of birth? ), a Silver, Ruby or Golden Wedding Anniversary, Father’s or Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day!!  THE PERFECT PERSONALISED PRESENT!!  ORDER NOW……..


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One Response to “The Specials @ Splendour turned Nottingham into a Ghost Town…..”

  1. Dom says:

    Too much too young…. what a classic!

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