The Specials talk debut album, Elvis Costello & more on Tim’s Twitter Listening Party
The Specials' classic Elvis Costello-produced 1979 debut album was the subject of a Tim's Twitter Listening Party on Sunday, featuring commentary and anecdotes from frontman Terry Hall and bassist Horace Panter while the album played. (The Charlatans' Tim Burgess was host of the event.) Here are some highlights:
On working with Elvis Costello: "Elvis leans back on his swivel chair and the whole thing collapsed... definitely an ice-breaker!" says Terry. "The first few days of making the record felt a little overwhelming... major label... album... London. I was very young and it became a real eye-opening... as things settled down it proved to be a great experience. Discovering kebab shops was a massive bonus." Horace noted the first song they recorded was "Too Hot," " just to ease ourselves into the vibe. I push the bass a bit too much I think!"
Terry says album opener "A Message to You Rudy" remains his "fave song on the album; it's amazing how it lights up an audience wherever we play in the world. Still doing it 40 years on." It seems unbelievable to think but Horace says "We weren't used to horns before we recorded this," noting the difference the brass instruments made to the finished product.
On "Do the Dog": "You can hear [Neville Staples's] original vocal take bleeding through the instrument mikes. I make a real blooper of a mistake just before the last chorus but it seemed to work in the track." Horace also noted that it "was our set opener when we reformed for the 2009."
For "Nite Klub," Terry Hall notes that "The party scene" background noise that runs through the song "was heavily staged until someone dropped their trousers!" Horace adds that producer Elvis Costello "bashes a tin tray in time with the snare drum" and notes that The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde "doubles up on 'girls are slags'" backing vocals part. Horace also says that's Chrissie doing the "heavy breathing" on "Stupid Marriage."
"Monkey Man" is, "groove wise," Horace's favorite song on the album. "Neville's talk over is so ridiculously spontaneous."
"Dawning of a New Era" is "about Chelmsley Wood in Birmingham... a girl that Jerry met on holiday who came from there," notes Horace.
Horace says he's not crazy about the studio version of "Too Much Too Young," adding he was "glad we sped it up for our live performance. The [live version] that got to No.1 in February 1980 clocked in at 1m59s... the shortest No.1 EVER!" He also notes that "this song got banned from radio play because of references to contraception."
Terry says his least favorite song on the album is "Little Bitch": "It felt like a horrible personal attack on someone I didn't know," and says they have dropped this from their live set."
As for "You're Wondering Now," Horace calls it "the perfect end to album and the live show!" And to this listening party.
Upcoming Tim's Twitter Listening Parties include Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures (5/22), Lambchop's Nixon (5/25), Duran Duran's Rio (5/27), and Dexy's Midnight Runners' Searching for the Young Soul Rebels (5/29).