The Specials’ founder Jerry Dammers has revealed to Uncut that he recorded new Specials material with original members Horace Painter and Lynval Golding in 2003.
Speaking ahead of the newly reformed Specials’ tour, which he is not taking part in, Dammers said the tracks follow on from ‘Ghost Town’, the number one single that marked the dissolution of the group’s original line-up.
“My whole thing was starting where ‘Ghost Town’ left off. Rather than the usual reunion thing, which is retrogressive, nostalgic,” said the Two-Tone founder. “Joe Strummer said the reason he didn’t want to get the Clash back together was that it was like an admission that he’d got nothing left to offer. I’m too arrogant to admit I’ve got nothing left to offer! So I wanted to do it in a way where we came back as adults, making adult songs.”
Uncut exclusively heard one of the resulting tracks, the first new Specials’ material recorded since 1984. Entitled ‘First Victims of War’, it features regular Specials’ contributors Rico Rodriquez and Dick Cuthell and is heavily dub-influenced, opening with Golding singing “the first victim of war is always the poor man”.
Dammers claims he wanted to get The Specials back together including vocalist Terry Hall, but discovered in 2004 that Hall was making his own reunion plans with then Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan.
“I was offended that Terry would be talking to a football club owner rather than me about a Specials reunion. I had no interest in taking part in a muppet show for a millionaire. I mean the whole idea of anyone supposedly wanting to put the band together. I don’t want to be put, thank you.”
Dammers subsequently arranged a full band meeting, the first time he had been in the same room as his one-time lead singer since 1981, in which he claims the idea was floated by Hall’s management to re-record first two LPs to give away free with a Sunday paper. After the meeting Dammers claims he received a phone call telling him he was sacked.
As reported last week, Hall, Golding and drummer John Bradbury deny Dammers was forced out, insisting the door has always been open for The Special’s founder and chief songwriter to take part. Dammers, however, feels he was marginalised from the start and frozen out of the group he put together in the 70’s.
“I suspect they never really wanted me to do it. They wanted me as a cosmetic. They didn’t want me as a person. I’ve been kicked from pillar to post.”
“The Specials is a part of me and I’m a part of it,” he added. “This whole thing is like having a part of me wrenched out… At the end of the day it’s my words coming out of their mouths.”
To read the full interview with Jerry Dammers see this month’s Uncut , on sale now.
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Pic credit: Dean Chalkley