Neville Staple is a man who needs no introduction. A pivotal member of the original Specials and a pivotal figure from the UK’s second wave of ska, Staple has long been considered a legend.
In 2018, the “original rude boy” released the album ‘Rude Rebels’ with his wife Sugary Staple and former bandmate Roddy Radiation, to some acclaim.
He returns with a non-album single, ‘Put Away Your Knives’, which as its title suggests is a message of warning to all regarding a rise in knife crime. Produced by Dandy Livingstone (performer of the classics ‘Reggae In Your Jeggae’ and ‘Suzanne, Beware of the Devil), the tune is structured around his own ‘A Message To You, Rudy’, as reworked by The Specials themselves in 1979.
The ska revival of the early 80s brought some great and timeless music, but The Beat’s debut album and associated singles were among the finest slabs of vinyl to emerge from the scene. Part of The Beat’s enduring charm came from great chorus hooks, but for many, the real energy and brilliance came from Ranking Roger.
Over the past few years, The Selecter have gone from strength to strength. The 2-Tone legends have released two critically acclaimed albums in 2015’s ‘Subculture’ and 2017’s ‘Daylight’, but in addition, founding members Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson have been permanently on the road.
They’ve toured the UK several times and even taken their show across the Atlantic. Moving into 2019, things show no sign of slowing down.
If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s in South East England, you’ll almost certainly have a fond memory of Margate. It probably involves a day trip to the beach, a bag of chips and a visit to the Dreamland Amusement Park. The town fell on hard times in the 90s, but with the opening of the Turner Contemporary art gallery and the arrival of small cafe’s and boutiques in the Old Town, things began to improve. The grand re-opening of Dreamland as a retro theme park was an essential part of the regeneration and has been great for the town. Its recently renovated facade in blue and yellow neon shines out over the sea and the seafront, once again, looks proud of itself. In addition to the theme park, the Dreamland complex includes a retro roller rink, a period restored ballroom and an upstairs area dubbed The Hall By The Sea for hosting live music. It’s almost certainly better than it ever was. Dreamland is brilliant and you shouldn’t let people try and convince you otherwise, especially those who haven’t actually been to Margate since 1996.
The British ska revival of the late 70s was an exciting time. The short-lived 2-Tone label (founded by The Specials’ Jerry Dammers) was home to arguably some of the greatest music to come from the UK. Over the course of three years, with a mix of good-time party music and political messages, The Specials, The Selecter and The Beat became hugely popular, and although they moved away from their ska roots quicker than most, Madness became one of the most popular British pop bands of all time.