Visit CDNOW for The Specials Discography The Specials' On-line Community

Information GQ Magazine article, 19 March 2020

Post new topic Reply to topic
TheSpecials2.com Forum Index » Jerry Dammers   
View previous topic :: View next topic
AuthorMessage
Imani
Too Hot


Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 1847
Location: Bradford

Post subject: GQ Magazine article, 19 March 2020 Reply with quote

Why The Specials' Jerry Dammers was the Lennon and McCartney of ska

By Dylan Jones

20 March 2020

GQ editor Dylan Jones explains why The Specials' self-titled ska classic should be on your isolation rotation

The Specials were advocates of late-Seventies postmodern ska, the inventors of two-tone and quite simply one of the coolest, most important British bands of all time. In the space of just two years, from 1979 to 1981, the original Specials managed to embody the new decade’s violent energies, morals and conflicts – though always with an ironic and often sardonic detachment that kept the band cool as the Eighties grew increasingly hot.

“Gangsters”, “Too Much Too Young”, “A Message To You, Rudy”, “Do Nothing”, “Rat Race”, “Ghost Town”, records that defined a generation who weren’t sure they wanted to be defined in the first place. Sure, the band were earnest, but they were studiedly sarcastic too, which endeared them to everyone at the time who mattered. Not only that, but they came from Coventry, Britain’s very own answer to Detroit, the epitome of the post-war urban wasteland, the quintessential concrete jungle, and felt they had a right to bleat about anything they wanted to, especially the onslaught of Thatcherism.

Jerry Dammers was the creative genius behind The Specials, the man who gave them their political edge, who gave them their idiosyncratic musical tropes and who set them apart from the likes of The Selecter, The Beat or Bad Manners. The Specials without Dammers were like The Doors without Jim Morrison, Queen without Freddie Mercury, Wham! without George Michael or Morecambe and Wise without Morecambe or, er, Wise.

Dammers was always a genuine bohemian, and it’s no surprise to me the way his career has panned out (DJing, production, forming various esoteric dance orchestras). However, I also thought he might turn out to be our generation’s John Barry, scoring important movies with solemn yet iconic orchestral themes, balancing Jacques Derrida with Francis Lai, Scott Walker with Dr John. To me, Dammers was the Lennon and McCartney of ska, one of the most important voices of the postpunk movement, a man who always appeared to be carrying his generation’s hopes and dreams on his shoulders, as well as his own. Quite simply, I thought Dammers was something of a musical genius. A genius who has always followed his own path: that he didn’t turn into John Barry was a disappointment to me, but probably not to him.

https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/culture/article/the-specials-jerry-dammers
PostPosted:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:06 pm
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Imani
Too Hot


Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 1847
Location: Bradford

Post subject: Reply with quote

(It's actually part of an article first published in the Daily Mail in 2009. I'll paste it in full - apologies for the bits of duplication. BTW....this and the above post wasn't intended to re-open the can of worms of the reunion debate; not sure there's anything further that can be said. Just thought it was worth sharing an article that hadn't previously been posted.)

It can't be a comeback without the Special one
UPDATED: 22:00, 28 March 2009


You can't have Gavin without Stacey - nor can you revive ska stars the Specials minus founder Jerry Dammers

Should you happen to have read the classified ads in the arts pages of your favourite newspaper recently, you’ll know that revival tours are all the rage (as they like to say in Chipping Norton).

ABC, the Human League, the Who, Lloyd Cole, Ultravox, Deep Purple, the Eagles, Simply Red, et al; they’re all eagerly treading the boards again, without so much as a by-your-leave for how these opportunistic outings will ultimately effect their legacies. And who can blame them?

People will pay good money to see bands they enjoyed in their youth, sometimes regardless of how many original members they contain.

That weird little band from 1983 whose only hit you devoured as though it were the essence of life itself? Yup, well they’re probably back too, playing the Shepherd’s Bush Empire the night after Joe Jackson.

With all the original members, too, strangely – apart from the drummer, who died in a bizarre gardening accident in what the rest of the band at the time thought was a misguided, if not completely unfunny, homage to Spinal Tap.

Oh yes, as far as music is concerned, there’s nothing quite so au courant as nostalgia.

And if you look carefully you’ll see that the Specials are back too, those advocates of late Seventies postmodern ska, the inventors of 2-Tone, and quite simply one of the coolest, most important British bands of all time.

In the space of just two years, from 1979 to 1981, the original Specials managed to embody the new decade’s violent energies, morals and conflicts – though always with an ironic and often sardonic detachment that kept the band cool as the Eighties grew increasingly hot.

Gangsters, Too Much Too Young, A Message To You, Rudy, Do Nothing, Rat Race, Ghost Town… records that defined a generation who weren’t sure they wanted to be defined in the first place.

To me, Jerry Dammers was the Lennon and McCartney of ska, one of the most important voices of Britain's post-punk generation
Sure, the band were earnest, but they were studiedly sarcastic too, which endeared them to everyone at the time who mattered. Not only that, but they came from Coventry, Britain’s very own answer to Detroit, the epitome of the postwar urban wasteland, the quintessential concrete jungle, and felt they had a right to bleat about anything they wanted to, especially the onslaught of Thatcherism.

And now they’re back, 30 years later, playing everywhere from the Glasgow Academy to the Brixton Academy, churning out the old hits as though they were a human jukebox.

Only it’s not really the Specials at all, because the most important member, the man who invented them, who gave the band their edge, who wrote most of their songs, and who was responsible for making them truly memorable, has not been encouraged to participate in the reunion (‘I founded the Specials, and now they’ve excluded me,’ said Jerry Dammers a few weeks ago). There had always been friction between Dammers and singer Terry Hall – the most miserable man in pop – and that friction continues today.

Dammers was the band’s creative genius, the man who gave them their political edge, who gave them their idiosyncratic musical tropes, and who set them apart from bands such as the Selector, the Beat or Bad Manners. The Specials without Dammers is like the Doors without Jim Morrison, Queen without Freddie Mercury, Wham! without George Michael or Morecambe and Wise without Morecambe or, er, Wise.

I have to admit to a bit of previous here, and own up to the fact that I knew Jerry extremely well for about five years in the Eighties. Although we have lost touch now, back then he was a friend. I would regularly hitch up to Coventry to sit in sullen working men’s clubs with Jerry and his extraordinary circle of friends and acquaintances, discussing socialism (we differed), the provenance of Prince Buster and the validity of Heaven 17.

We went clubbing together, spent a few memorable New Year’s Eves in Bristol (where Jerry’s parents were from), spent birthdays together, and once DJed together at a miners’ benefit at London’s Wag Club in 1983 (he played politically correct funk while I played Tory disco).

I even sat through some of the tortuous recording of the Special AKA’s 1985 album In The Studio, the one containing Jerry’s defining moment, the monumentally influential Free Nelson Mandela. This ultimately led to the Mandela 70th birthday tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in 1988, and helped add to the groundswell of support that led to Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990.

Jerry was always a genuine bohemian, and it’s no surprise to me the way his career has panned out (DJing, production, forming various esoteric dance orchestras). However,

I also thought he might turn out to be our generation’s John Barry, scoring important movies with solemn yet iconic orchestral themes, balancing Jacques Derrida with Francis Lai, Scott Walker with Dr John. To

me, Jerry was the Lennon and McCartney of ska, a man who always appeared to be carrying his generation’s hopes and dreams on his shoulders, as well as his own. Quite simply, I thought Jerry was a genius. A genius who has always followed his own path: that he didn’t turn into John Barry was a disappointment to me, but not to him.

However, he is disappointed by the Specials’ latest excursion, and – justly, I think – feels aggrieved that the band have decided to tour without him. So I have a question for anyone who has found it necessary to buy a ticket to see them.

Honestly, if Mick Hucknall died in a bizarre gardening accident, would you still go and see Simply Red? No, I thought not.

Dylan Jones is the editor of GQ

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1164523/It-comeback-Special-one.html
PostPosted:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:55 pm
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
kennybacon
Special


Joined: 04 May 2009
Posts: 889
Location: Barrow

Post subject: Reply with quote

* In The Studio was released in 1984 not 1985.
_________________
Bernie Rhodes Knows - Dont Argue
PostPosted:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:43 pm
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Harry
Too Hot


Joined: 03 Jan 2009
Posts: 1778
Location: London

Post subject: Reply with quote

Dylan Jones has recycled some stuff he wrote years ago for an article on good records we should listen to whilst self isolating. I agree the old Specials albums all sound great but I'm more interested in the future!
I'd love to know what Jerry's got up his sleeve, did he record stuff with Dick and Rico, will he do an album of Sun Ra stuff, Will we get to hear the, First Victims of War track he wanted The Specials to come back with? Etc.
I could (just about) imagine Jerry making the sound track to a Ken Loach film with a left wing message. I don't see him as being a gun for hire in the way John Barry used to be
_________________
I got one art O'level it did nothing for me
PostPosted:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:37 pm
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Imani
Too Hot


Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 1847
Location: Bradford

Post subject: Reply with quote

kennybacon wrote:
* In The Studio was released in 1984 not 1985.


Of course. Dylan may have just been trying to make that year seem better for music than it actually was. Very Happy

Harry wrote:
Dylan Jones has recycled some stuff he wrote years ago for an article on good records we should listen to whilst self isolating. I agree the old Specials albums all sound great but I'm more interested in the future!
I'd love to know what Jerry's got up his sleeve, did he record stuff with Dick and Rico, will he do an album of Sun Ra stuff, Will we get to hear the, First Victims of War track he wanted The Specials to come back with? Etc.
I could (just about) imagine Jerry making the sound track to a Ken Loach film with a left wing message. I don't see him as being a gun for hire in the way John Barry used to be


I read a retrospective book he did on David Bowie, some of which may also have been old interviews.

Yes, agreed. Riot City is a good example of how Jerry might have developed as a film music composer - just a pity about the film itself. It's interesting that he's never gone down the soundtrack route as he's very much into library music, i.e. incidental music - plays it when DJ'ing and was even part of a Radio 4 documentary on the subject (Into the Music Library). But that area by nature requires a quick turnover of a large quantity of music to provide for the publishers, and - you know the rest.

Into The Music Library: 'An exploration of the strange (and strangely familiar) sound world of 'Library Music'.'

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b01061hr
PostPosted:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:24 am
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Harry
Too Hot


Joined: 03 Jan 2009
Posts: 1778
Location: London

Post subject: Reply with quote

The Starvation charity single and The Winds of Change (Robert Wyatt collaboration) were both knocked out super fast.
The Human Mind themes tune I like wasn't actually composed by John Barry, he did the arrangement. Jerry has top rate musicians willing to be in his Orchestra, I imagine he could work fast if needed. I think the problem would more likely be the financial situation. There just aren't many films being made in Britain that would have big budgets for new scores and orchestras etc
_________________
I got one art O'level it did nothing for me
PostPosted:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:29 am
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Imani
Too Hot


Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 1847
Location: Bradford

Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry wrote:
The Starvation charity single and The Winds of Change (Robert Wyatt collaboration) were both knocked out super fast.
The Human Mind themes tune I like wasn't actually composed by John Barry, he did the arrangement. Jerry has top rate musicians willing to be in his Orchestra, I imagine he could work fast if needed. I think the problem would more likely be the financial situation. There just aren't many films being made in Britain that would have big budgets for new scores and orchestras etc


It would be a financial thing. Also a lot of the orchestral scores we hear may well have been done on computer.

The Spatials seemed to come together relatively quickly as well. The other track that comes to mind is Nelson Mandela, which despite its 'cast of thousands' was done in four days. Though Elvis Costello most likely had a lot to do with that. He'd already publicly voiced his bemusement at Jerry taking so long over the rest of In The Studio. Maybe it needed someone from outside to assist, and that song came together so well because he just trusted Elvis's judgement, experience and musical ideas.
PostPosted:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:52 am
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Imani
Too Hot


Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 1847
Location: Bradford

Post subject: Reply with quote

'The origins of The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ (and why it eerily resonates today)'

By Dylan Jones
29 March 2020

Very long article - you might need a couple of days to read this one. Again, some of it is old material that you might have already read.

https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/culture/article/the-specials-jerry-dammers-ghost-town
PostPosted:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 8:13 am
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Harry
Too Hot


Joined: 03 Jan 2009
Posts: 1778
Location: London

Post subject: Reply with quote

Good find Imani.
At the end of article he says Jerry has hours of music "in the can" I hope some of it is released next year.
_________________
I got one art O'level it did nothing for me
PostPosted:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 12:14 pm
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Imani
Too Hot


Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 1847
Location: Bradford

Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry wrote:
Good find Imani.
At the end of article he says Jerry has hours of music "in the can" I hope some of it is released next year.


It's an intense read, just finished it. Yes, let's hope we hear that music sooner rather than years later.

From the article:

Jerry Dammers is in the middle – or thereabouts – of recording a new album, down in his studio in South London. He has hours of material “in the can”, as he says, but needs time to get it into shape. With all his DJing work cancelled for the time being, he is wisely using this period to try to finalise output he’s been tinkering with for years. “I’ll get there in the end,” he says. “I’m not a perfectionist but I want this to be good. I think it is good, but I want to give it my best shot. Once and for all.”

I spoke to him for this article a few days ago and he is as disconcerted by the current crisis as all of us. Up until the lockdown he had been working late most nights, regularly seeing the crazies who still stalk the streets in the early hours in these desperate times and still freaked out by the desolation. “It’s quite spooky walking about at night. I would come back from the studio in the middle of the night and worryingly there would be the odd lunatics walking the streets. It’s only the most extreme people who appear to still be out there. It’s strange times.”
PostPosted:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 12:59 pm
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Imani
Too Hot


Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 1847
Location: Bradford

Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope 'Gnossienne No.1' is released.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l23apz_bDSk

Erik Satie original.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLFVGwGQcB0
PostPosted:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:43 pm
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
sweetdudejim
Stereotype


Joined: 10 Mar 2010
Posts: 25
Location: Flagler Beach, FL

Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. Count me as super excited that Jerry is recording a new album. I honestly didn't think there was any hope of such a thing ever coming true. While I don't expect to ever see it released, perhaps Jerry will surprise me and put something out!
PostPosted:
Sun May 03, 2020 6:36 am
Top of PageView user's profileSend private message
Display posts from previous:   
All times are GMT
Post new topic Reply to topic
TheSpecials2.com Forum Index » Jerry Dammers  

Jump to:  
Key
  You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Community powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group :: Theme & Graphics by Daz