The Specials

More...Or Less. The Specials Live

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Recorded on a European tour in 2011, More... Or Less. The Specials Live finds most of the original lineup of the highly influential British ska godfathers (ska-dfathers?) running through spirited live versions of their classic first two albums and more notable singles, mostly in chronological order. Their 1979 debut was basically a polished recording of a powerful band running through their live set in the studio, and the lack of production and pretension helped make it the basic blueprint for countless ska upstarts the same way the Ramones' no-nonsense debut did for punk a few years prior. Thirty-some years later, the band has retained some of the same energy of those early days, and to their credit, some of the youthful spirit and bile comes through on this by-the-numbers live album. While the band sounds sharp, with a refreshing lack of the updates or cheesy re-envisionments that often get tacked on to songs after playing them countless times over a series of decades. Neville Staple and Terry Hall's breathless vocals evoke images of a rousing stage show with all the jumping, skanking and crowd-hyping one would expect from a Specials show at any given European festival, but when running through certified classics in their original running order, it's hard to imagine anyone except absolute completists getting much out of this collection. With the original spark of these songs captured flawlessly so long ago, More... Or Less is redundant at best, and lackingly so.

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