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Released: October 1979

Rating: 4.445 (average of 6 ratings)

Genre: ska

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. A Message to You Rudy
  2. Do the Dog
  3. It’s Up to You
  4. Nite Klub
  5. Doesn’t Make It Right
  6. Concrete Jungle
  7. Too Hot
  8. Monkey Man
  9. Dawning of a New Era
  10. Blank Expression
  11. Stupid Marriage
  12. Too Much Too Young
  13. Gangsters *
  14. Little Bitch
  15. You’re Wondering Now
* Added to 11/84 reissue.


sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 84
peak on U.K. album chart 4

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Gangsters (7/28/79) #6 UK
  • A Message to You Rudy (10/27/79) #10 UK
  • Too Much Too Young (1/26/80) #1 UK *
* part of “The Special A.K.A. Live EP”

Notes: An “enhanced CD reissue includes the videos for ‘Gangsters’ and ‘Too Much,’ true must-see TV” (Greene).


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. Q Magazine’s Top 100 Albums

The Specials
The Specials
“A perfect moment in time captured on vinyl forever, such is the Specials’ eponymous debut album; it arrived in shops in the middle of October 1979 and soared into the U.K. Top Five. It was an utter revelation — except for anyone who had seen the band on-stage, for the album was at its core a studio recording of their live set, and at times even masquerades as a gig. There were some notable omissions: Gangsters, for one, but that had already spun on 45, as well as the quartet of covers that would appear on their live Too Much Too Young EP in the new year. But the rest are all here, 14 songs’ strong, mostly originals with a few covers of classics thrown in for good measure. That includes their fabulous take on Dandy Livingstone’s A Message to You Rudy, an equally stellar version of the Maytals’ Monkey Man, and the sizzling take on Prince Buster's Too Hot” (Greene).

“If those were fabulous, their own compositions were magnificent. The Specials managed to distill all the anger, disenchantment, and bitterness of the day straight into their music. The vicious Nite Klub — with its unforgettable line, ‘All the girls are slags and the beer tastes just like piss’ — perfectly skewered every bad night the members had ever spent out on the town; Blank Expression extended the misery into unwelcoming pubs, while Concrete Jungle moved the action onto the streets, capturing the fear and violence that stalked the inner cities” (Greene).

“And then it gets personal. It’s Up to You throws down the gauntlets to those who disliked the group, its music, and its stance, while simultaneously acting as a rallying cry for supporters. Too Much Too Young shows the Specials’ disdain for teen pregnancy and marriage; Stupid Marriage drags two such offenders before a Judge Dread-esque magistrate, with Terry Hall playing the outraged and sniping prosecutor; while Little Bitch is downright nasty” (Greene).

“Those were polemics; It Doesn’t Make It Alright reaches a hand out to listeners and, with conviction, delivers up a heartfelt plea against racism, but even this number contains a sharp sting in its tail. It's a bitter brew, aggressively delivered, with even the slower numbers sharply edged, and therefore the band wisely scattered sparkling covers across the album to help lift its mood” (Greene).

“The set appropriately ends with the rocksteady-esque yearning of You’re Wondering Now, the song that invariably closed their live shows. Even though producer Elvis Costello gave the record a bright sound, it doesn't lighten the dark currents that run through the group's songs; if anything, his production heightens them. It's left to guests Rico Rodriguez and Dick Cuthell to provide a little Caribbean sun to the Specials’ sound, their brass sweetening the flashes of anger and disaffection that sweep across the record. And so, this was Britain in late 1979, an unhappy island about to explode” (Greene).

Review Source(s):

Last updated April 15, 2008.