What Does God Say?

I was driving home last night reflecting on what has been a hectic and pretty intense start to the new school year- in my new role I am now responsible for the induction and mentoring of fifteen newly qualified teachers, six trainee teachers, and ten other new starters. Lots to be getting on with. And a move to a new office. My mp3 player, plugged into the cassette dock in my car stereo, started flashing that the battery was ‘dangerously low’. As I noticed the warning Orbital’s Are We Here? began to play. Fifteen minutes long, but never less than absorbing with its techno drums, building synths, ‘what does God say?’ sample,Specials’ Man At C&A breakdown and Alison Goldfrapp’s vocals. It played on and on and as the track finished and the next one began to cue up, with seconds to spare, the battery died. I don’t what the next song was going to be.

Are We Here?


Special Ska

No-one needs me to tell them how great The Specials were, the spearhead of the 2 Tone and ska revival, led by Jerry Dammers vision and organ playing, Terry hall’s downcast vocals and presence, Neville Staples energy… in fact they seemed like a band with anything up to seven leaders. Which maybe is they they burned so brightly but so briefly.

Too Hot (Live in Chicago 1980)

There’s A Weapon That We Must Use

This is not exactly a re-post, more a re-write, as I’ve posted this song before in two variations and typed these words (or some very similar) before too. I posted Fuxa’s cover version of Our Lips Are Sealed recently, as song I get obsessed with every so often. The song, as everyone must know, was co-written by Terry Hall and Jane Wiedlin while their respective bands (him The Specials, her The Go Go’s) were on tour together and apparently describes their secret relationship. Both The Go Go’s and Fun Boy Three released their own versions, the latter being produced by Talking Heads mainman David Byrne. The two videos are worth a compare and contrast exercise-

The Go Go’s video is all summer in California, irresistible it is too…

Fun Boy Three’s version is all UK, 80s shades of grey and big hair, altogether darker…

And from the 12″ single…

Our Lips Are Sealed (Urdu Version)

You’re Wondering Now

I was going to start Sunday with some dub- it’s ages since there was any dub round here- but scrolling through stuff I chanced upon this and thought we should start Sunday with some ska. You’re Wondering Now is probably best known to people my age as a Specials song and is maybe best known to people twenty years younger than me as an Amy Winehouse tune. It was originally a Skatalites instrumental; this later vocal version was recorded by Andy and Joey in 1964.

Ska now, dub later.

You’re Wondering Now

Blank Expression

As a part two to the Amy Winehouse ska covers e.p. Lily Allen did a similar thing releasing a Two Tone inspired single (on vinyl obviously). The A-side was a cover of The Specials debut Gangsters (recorded with Terry Hall and Lynval Golding) and this was the B-side, a cover of Blank Expression. It’s a corker.

I didn’t expect when I started Bagging Area that Lily Allen would get three posts. Equally, when checking the statistics for the blog I’ve long been puzzled why the Lily Allen and Mick Jones cover of Straight To Hell is the most visited, most read post here, many thousand ahead of the next most read post. Then I realised it’s probably because of the picture I used. Amazing what a bit of cheek will do isn’t it?

More Monkey Man

Following the previous post here’s another song called Monkey Man, this one written by Toots Hibbert of Toots and The Maytals though rather than Jagger/Richards, and sung by the recently departed Amy Winehouse. She released an e.p. of ska covers several years ago, songs that had been covered by The Specials, with whom she sang live a few times.

Pressure Drop A Drop On You

Pressure Drop, by Toots And The Maytals, is one of the great reggae songs, and was covered in brilliant rock reggae style by The Clash (b-side to the English Civil War single). Neither are the version posted here on this Bank Holiday Monday evening- this version of Pressure Drop is by The Specials, and before you scratch your heads and go checking your original Two Tone vinyl album tracklists, this wasn’t done by a version containing either Terry Hall or Jerry Dammers. In 1996 a rump version of The Specials led by Neville Staple, and joined by Lynval Golding, Roddy Byers, Horace Panter and a host of other folk released an album called Today’s Specials. Neville Staple has carried on gigging and recording throughout the 80s and 90s, and was always including Specials and covers songs in his sets. So the recent reformation (albeit without Jerry) wasn’t the first time the band had reformed, or partially reformed. Anyway to get to the point, they covered Pressure Drop, and while it’s not as gloriously ragged as either the Toots or Clash covers, it’s good and sounded great wafting around earlier, with this late summer sunshine we’ve enjoyed today.