The Specials, also known as The Special AKA, are an English 2 Tone and ska revival band formed in 1977 in Coventry. Their music combines a “danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk’s energy and attitude”. Lyrically they present a “more focused and informed political and social stance” than most other ska groups.
The band wore mod-style “1960s period rude boy outfits (pork pie hats, tonic and mohair suits and loafers)”. In 1980, the song “Too Much Too Young”, the lead track on their The Special AKA Live! EP, reached No. 1 in the UK. In 1981, the unemployment-themed single “Ghost Town” also hit No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart.
After seven consecutive UK Top 10 singles between 1979 and 1981, three members of the group abruptly left to form Fun Boy Three.Continuing on as “The Special AKA” (a name they used frequently on earlier Specials releases), a substantially revised Specials line-up issued new material through 1984, including the top 10 UK hit single “Free Nelson Mandela“.Afterwards, founder and songwriter Jerry Dammers dissolved the band and pursued political activism.
The group reformed in 1993, and have continued to perform and record with varying line-ups (but without Dammers).