Although pioneering ska revivalists the Specials only released three albums in their lifetime (SPECIALS, MORE SPECIALS and, as the Special AKA, 1984's IN THE STUDIO), compilations are essential for a full understanding of the group, because many of their best moments never made it onto a long-player. As a result, a seemingly endless supply of compilations have been released since the band's split, most of them covering the same songs and few of them staying in print for very long. Disky's BEST OF THE SPECIALS is not a perfect compilation--shockingly, it doesn't include "Ghost Town," the band's biggest hit--but in the mid-2000s, the best available. Also, by including some rarities and lesser-known songs, it gives a fuller overview of the band than many of the more narrowly focused sets. Besides familiar hits like "A Message To You Rudy," this 16-track compilation also includes comparative rarities like "War Crimes," a chilling condemnation of Middle East violence, and an African-influenced version of "Maggie's Farm" that foreshadows Specials offshoot Fun Boy Three's uniquely percussive sound.
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AllMusic Review by AllMusic