An Eight Part History of The Specials - Part Four - More Specials.

More Specials

Having found success in Britain and mainland Europe, it was time for The Specials to head stateside, and a short 3 week tour was arranged. For some of these shows the band opened for The Police, whipping the American crowds into a frenzy, often overshadowing the main act by all accounts.
The Specials in 1979

Some tensions were brought to a head on this tour by Jerry's insistence that they not stay in flash hotels or travel in limo's. In fact the tour manager had to travel ahead to check the accommodations were not too good. Another incident occurred in February 1980 at the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles, when the band arrived to see that the venue had been completely painted outside with black and white checks. Jerry was furious, disgusted by the hype he felt that the record company was generating.

Another moment of sarcasm aimed at the press by Dammers seemed to put the dampeners on the bands ascent after the record company read it in the LA Times. He was clearly not enjoying his time in the US, and when asked by a reporter about that, he sarcastically said he'd 'had more fun on a school trip to Russia'.
Whilst away, 2 Tone continued to rule the waves in England, 'Too Much Too Young' had topped the UK singles chart, and the band returned home to recuperate for a short while, before heading to Europe for a few shows.

In May 1980 'Rat Race' was released as The Specials' 4th single, backed by 'Rude Buoys Outa Jail' on the B-side, which again raced up the charts reaching a high point of number 5. The song, this time written by Roddy, was a straight dig at students, but they strangely had no trouble in recruiting a few to be in the classroom video for the song!

In June they headed off for the 12 date 'Seaside Specials' tour, with new 2 Tone signings 'The Bodysnatchers' as support act. Tensions were mounting still, particularly between Jerry and Roddy, who were openly at each others throats on and off stage, but the band continued with their arduous schedule, finishing the tour and then heading back to the US to appear on the legendary 'Saturday Night Live'. On the show the band turned in a legendary live performance of 'Gangsters' that to this day stands out as one of the best in the shows history.

July saw the band head off to Japan for the first time, but the frenzied crowd reaction in Osaka got them in trouble with the police. At that time, standing at a concert was against the law in Japan, but as was usual for a Specials show, the crowd went wild and invaded the stage. The police were called in and arrested manager Rick Rogers and the club manager, and the band were told to stay in their hotel. The second Osaka show was canceled, but they dutifully played the other couple of shows on the tour and returned home.

Shortly after returning to the UK, Lynval was the victim of a brutal racist attack outside a Modettes gig in London by racist thugs, leaving him needing medical treatment (Lynval was to later describe this experience in his heartfelt song 'Why?').
Out of the public eye for the next few months, the band were holed up in Coventry's Horizon Studio's, finishing off tracks for what was to be their second album.
On the Horizon Studio's Fire Escape
On the Horizon Studio's Fire Escape

The recording of the album had been difficult, with disagreements between Jerry and other band members about the direction he was taking the band in, but none the less it was completed and it was a physically and emotionally exhausted Specials that took to the road for the album promo tour.

The single 'Stereotype' was released first in September 1980, and introduced a different sounding Specials to the public. The song took a step away from their signature punk and ska sound, drifting into lounge music and muzak territory. It was yet another sarcastic lyric, this time by Dammers, and this time aimed at the teenage lads of the day who would go out and get pissed and then wind up crashing their car on the way home. Backed by 'International Jet Set', it reached number 6 in the UK charts - suprisingly due to the fact that it was banned by many radio stations as it had the word 'pissed' in it.

The album followed the next week, and was warmly received by fans and press alike, reaching number 5 in the UK Album chart.
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