The Specials - Today's Specials (Cover Artwork)

The Specials

Today's Specials (1996)


It all seemed too perfect. The band? The Specials, one of the most important bands ever in ska music, innovators and trend-setters. The Specials were the capstone of the 2nd wave of ska in the late 70's. Sure, Madness was better...but I digress. The producer? Stoker, who has worked with great names in 3rd wave ska such as the Dance Hall Crashers, Hepcat and Mephiskapheles. The concept? A cover album of old ska, reggea and pop classics. It all seemed too good to be true. Where did it all go wrong?

Every band makes a mistake, even the greats. The Clash made "Cut the Crap", the Sex Pistols released that God-Awful live album after their mid-90's tour, and the Specials released "Today's Specials". This is most definitely this bands worst CD. Any Specials fan would feel betrayed by this disc, as the band goes from the classic ska sound of their first releases to cheezy Big Mountain style reggea on this record. This barely even qualifies as reggea, although perhaps more-so then the stuff that passes for reggea today.

The reggae covers are so obvious that it hurts. "Simmer Down", "Pressure Drop", "Maga Dog", "Hypocrite" and "Somebody Got Murdered", all staples of any good reggea cover band, but not a band the caliber of the Specials. It only cheapens them. Thank God they didn't rerecord their own classics like "Nite Club" and "Ghost Town", I think I might have had to throw the CD out the window.

The rest of the album, while not quite as distinctively painful, is just boring as Hell. "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Dirty Old Town" just drag by, leaving the listener wondering if what they just heard came from one of the best ska bands ever. Yeesh.

In conclusion, steer clear of this CD. There are way better discs you can grab by this band, including the first two records for Two-Tone Records, "The Specials" and "More Specials". Even the bands later 1998 album "Guilty Til Proved Innocent!" is far better. Don't be misguided by this disc, the band can do way better.