Special Beat


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The current popularity of ska, reggae's sweaty, galloping predecessor, can be traced directly back to several albums of the early 1980s by the Specials and the Beat (known in the U.S. as the English Beat, in order to distinguish them from a San Francisco band of the same name). Sadly, those bands broke up after only a few years, but their legacies live on in various revival bands, among them the Special Beat, which features several members from each of the two groups. This live album is pure greatest-hits rehash, of course, featuring such oldies-but-goodies as "Mirror in the Bathroom," "Concrete Jungle" and the crowd-pleasing "Ranking Full Stop" -- all modern ska classics you'd expect to hear from this lineup. Vocalists Ranking Roger (of the Beat) and Neville Staples (of the Specials) have lost none of their energy and conviction, and the sound is excellent (with the exception of the buried vocals on "Too Much Too Young"). This may be a nostalgia trip, but it's a fun one.

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