|An Eight Part History of The Specials - Part Seven - No Fun, Boys.|
|Part One||Part Two||Part Three||Part Four||Part Five||Part Six||Part Seven||Part Eight|
No Fun, Boys
The tour began playing to packed venues from the outset, and the band were well received by audiences across the UK. The single 'Our Lips Are Sealed' was then released during the tour in April. Having been written by Terry and Jane Weidlin of the Go Gos several years before, it was a number one hit in the USA for the Go Gos in 1982, and also gave the Fun Boys a number 7 UK hit with their version.
Next the band rehearsed for an American tour, and in June 1983 embarked on an 8 date tour, which was well received by the US concert goers. On returning to England, and without any real indication beforehand, Terry quit the band, effectively ending the Fun Boy Three's short career.
While all this had been going on, The Special AKA had been locked up in Woodbine Studios in Leamington Spa for 8 months, finally releasing a single in August 1983. 'Racist Friend/Bright Lights' brought the band back into the nether regions of the singles chart, reaching a high of number 60. Although this track features Roddy on guitar, he hadn't rejoined - Jerry lifted the guitar from an earlier Specials demo.
John Bradbury had formed his own sideline soul band 'JBs Allstars', and although their debut release 'One Minute Every Hour' failed to make the charts, it was a blasting soul number.
In January 1984, while Jerry Dammers laboured over his new masterpiece, and Chrysalis got more and more anxious over the amount of time and money it was swallowing up, Brad released a couple more singles with the Allstars, notably 'Backfield In Motion' which charted at 48..
In an attempt to offset some of the expenses the Special AKA's new album was racking up, Chrysalis then released 'This Are Two Tone', a compilation of 2 tone hits and some rarities. (Incidently, I won this LP in a 'Coventry Evening Telegraph' competition at the time!)
In March 1984, 'Nelson Mandela' was released, perfectly putting the plight of the celebrated ANC activist to words and music. The song gained wide radio support and reached number 9 in the singles chart. It had been recorded in an uncharacteristically swift 4 day period, and featured a plethora of Special friends, including Lynval Golding, Elvis Costello, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger.
After the success of 'Nelson Mandela', the band were on a roll, and finally delivered their album 'In The Studio' in August 1984. Almost 2 years, and half a million pounds in the making, the album received wide critical acclaim and reached number 36 in the album chart. Along the way, they had also lost a member in the shape of the temperamental Stan Campbell.
Despite the chart success and positive press coverage the album made, it fell a long way short of recouping the runaway costs that it had incurred.
The comical '(What I Like Most About You Is Your) Girlfriend' was released in September 1984, and featured none other than Mr. Dammers himself on lead falsetto vocal.
Despite reaching number 51 in the singles chart, and the success of the album, it wasn't enough and the Special AKA quietly faded away from the public eye. Behind the scenes, Jerry had used the entire budget for the next 3 albums making 'In The Studio', and Chrysalis effectively held him in a contractual catch 22. They were owed 2 more albums, but weren't going to pay for them.
For the next few years Jerry threw himself into various charity projects, the most successful of which was organizing a benefit concert for Nelson Mandela. In 1988 the 'Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute' concert at Wembley Stadium was a resounding success and a mark of Jerry's commitment to his beliefs, although he took little credit for it, the event did a big part to raising worldwide awareness of the Apartheid problem in South Africa. The high point of the show was definitely the rousing finale of Jerry's song 'Nelson Mandela' by all of the performers involved.
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