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The Specials: Protest Songs 1924-2012 review

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The Specials: Protest Songs 1924-2012
The Specials: Protest Songs 1924-2012 cover

Such was the excitement surrounding Terry Hall’s return to The Specials for 2019’s Encore that they swiftly reconvened in early 2020 to begin a new album. This – for obvious reasons – is not that album, and, by the time they gathered in September, with COVID’s second wave incoming, it was clear recording in the familiar fashion remained impossible.

So, suffering lockdown fatigue, but inspired by demonstrations about George Floyd’s death, they instead planned a fourth covers album. 

This time – just as the band needed something on which to focus – the songs themselves would have a focus, too. Protest Songs 1924-2012 gathers a dozen such compositions and demands fans see it more as a continuation of the band’s social politics than their musical style. 

This takes some readjustment: there’s little sign of, for instance, ska here – except, perhaps, the loose rhythms of Big Bill Broonzy’s 1938 tune Black, Brown And White – and few could have predicted Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows would appear, especially not so convincingly, nor Frank Zappa’s Trouble Every Day. The Specials, however, have always been by nature a broad church.

Of course, more obvious choices are present, especially Pop Staples’ civil rights anthem, Freedom Highway, with The Staples Singers’ gospel switched for a similarly instinctive rock‘n’roll arrangement, though often little more than voice and drums.

From the same era, Ain’t Gonna Let Segregation Turn Us Around (Don’t You Let Nobody Turn You Around) takes an African spiritual popularised on marches and speeds it up for shorter attention spans, its vocals and handclaps periodically punctuated by bursts of organ, guitar and drums, while Rod McKuen’s gritty pacifist song Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes gets a welcome revival, too.

Two tunes by Malvina ‘Little Boxes’ Reynolds are also unearthed, the loaded I Don’t Mind Failing In This World and, enhanced by banjo, I Live In A City, while this country styling is maintained for Chip ‘Wild Thing’ Taylor’s Fuck All The Perfect People, written in 2012. 

More controversial, though, is Listening Wind, Talking Heads’ tale of a terrorist defending his land from foreign exploiters, delivered here with minimal percussion and mournful horns, while an acoustic rendition of Bob Marley’s Get Up, Stand Up rounds things off quietly. We’ve never heard The Specials like this before, but they’ve used their time wisely. 

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Check out The Specials’ website

Read more: 2Tone Records feature

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Listen to (Feels Like) “Heaven” (Fiction Factory Cover) by Roosevelt

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Should you be searching for a thoroughly decent indie electronic-pop album to wrap your ears around at the moment. A good one to look at that might have skipped your notice is “Polydans” by the German producer Roosevelt. In comparison to his first two albums. I haven’t spoken an awful lot about “Polydans“, his third one (released in March). Let me share some feedback on it now. This release locks in with spirit of the 80s. Production-wise, the album remains consummate in its entirety. And the body of work is unskippable throughout. With the stats totted up, streaming figures suggest the track “Strangers” has proved most popular. I am sticking with calling out my first choice, “Sign“, as a standout, that I wrote about on the blog.

The reason why I am writing about Roosevelt today isn’t to share a quick outline of the latest album. I wanted to bring his sparkly cover version of the Fiction Factory, 1983, top 10 chart-topper track (Feels Like) “Heaven” to your attention which appears as a bonus track on the Deluxe Edition.

Listen on Apple Music

According to the internet, there have been 18 recordings of (Feels Like) “Heaven” by different artists. Roosevelt’s glittery, upbeat makeover comes in as #19. What I like about the new interpretation of the song it is significantly different in style to the darker new-wave vibes found on the original Fiction Factory edit.

I think the Roosevelt version of the track will go down a treat when played live. He starts a US tour next week and will eventually snake it’s way over to Europe next year.

(Feels Like) “Heaven” is out now – Find it ONLY on the deluxe edition of “Polydans“. (One of 8 bonus tracks)

Connect with Roosevelt
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamroosevelt
Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamroosevelt__
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/roosevelt_music/





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Listen to “Sweet Talker” by Years and Years and Galantis

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The thing about Galantis is. I pretty much know what to expect from the Swedish dance hit-makers because their signature sound is easily identifiable. The thing with a Years & Years and Galantis collaboration is. I pretty much can guess how it will pan out musically as well. Had they not delivered a bona fide dance banger like “Sweet Talker” is. I may have needed to send them over some serious questions. What I do like, though, on Years and Years part. The upcoming album “Night Call” seemingly, covers more ground in a music sense than the previous projects. Because as I have noticed with the singles to date. “Starstruck“, “Crave“, and now “Sweet Talker“, the styles explored differ vastly.

I am the kind of music listener who likes to play dance tracks in the winter months to help keep the winter blues at bay. Therefore, I am happy, “Sweet Talker” is the euphoric, fist punching anthem I was hoping for. I am also glad that the track includes a big orchestral arrangement by way of embellishment. Without this, it may have sounded too similar to Whigfield’s seminal bop “Saturday Night“, methinks.

Listen on Apple Music

It genuinely pleases me both the lyrics and narrative of the track are self-explanatory. There is a time and a place for tracks steeped with lyrical depth. “Sweet Talker” just isn’t one of them. It’s a dance track, through and through, of the kind that needs to be played turned up loud. That is all.

If you were looking for some exciting Years & Years news. Olly has exclusively revealed in an interview with Radio One DJ Clara Amfo. (In a chat during “Sweet Talker” premiere as Hottest Record In The World) He will be hosting this years’ New Year’s Eve celebrations on the BBC. (In previous years, there have been special live concerts from Queen and Adam Lambert, Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow.) Olly teased he will be counting us down to midnight playing Years & Years tracks (duh!) and some covers. There will be some extra special guests making an appearance also.

This, New Years Eve. With Years & Years on the television I have no reason to go out. I will definitely need to get some special snacks in, though.

Years & Years third album “Night Call” comes out via Interscope Records on January 7th, 2022. – Pre-order HERE

Connect with Years & Years
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YearsAndYears
Twitter: https://twitter.com/yearsandyears
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yearsandyears/

Connect with Galantis
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wearegalantis
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wearegalantis
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wearegalantis/





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NOW That’s What I Call Electronic coming this January

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NOW That’s What I Call Electronic
NOW That’s What I Call Electronic cover

Synth-pop fans rejoice, as NOW have announced a major 78-track 4CD compilation of the very best in electronic music.

NOW That’s What I Call Electronic will feature songs from artists such Queen, Blondie, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, ABBA and more.

The album showcases, it says, “the emergence of synth-pop as a dominant sub-genre of new wave”. 

Containing such classic tracks as Visage’s Fade To Grey, Japan’s Quiet Life, Ultravox’s Vienna through to OMD’s Enola Gay and Paul Hardcastle’s 19, it promises to be a comprehensive history of synth-pop.

NOW That’s What I Call Electronic is released 7 January 2022.

Read more: The story of That’s What I Call Music

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL ELECTRONIC 4-CD SET TRACKLISTING

CD 1

  • Queen – Radio Ga Ga
  • New Order – Blue Monday                  
  • Eurythmics, Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart – Love Is A Stranger
  • Ultravox – Vienna 
  • Visage – Fade To Grey
  • Japan – Quiet Life
  • Soft Cell – Tainted Love
  • The Human League – The Sound Of The Crowd
  • Duran Duran – Planet Earth
  • Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short          
  • Gary Numan – Cars
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Enola Gay
  • Landscape – Einstein A Go-Go
  • Tears For Fears – Mad World
  • Heaven 17 – Temptation
  • Blancmange – Living On The Ceiling
  • Fiction Factory – (Feels Like) Heaven
  • The Lotus Eaters – The First Picture Of You
  • A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
  • Yello – The Race

CD 2 

  • Donna Summer – I Feel Love (12” Version)
  • Chaka Khan – I Feel For You 
  • Freeez – I.O.U. 
  • Shannon – Let The Music Play 
  • Company B – Fascinated                           
  • The S.O.S Band – Just Be Good To Me
  • Nu Shooz – I Can’t Wait                            
  • The Pointer Sisters – Automatic 
  • Man 2 Man – Male Stripper
  • Patrick Cowley feat. Sylvester – Do You Wanna Funk
  • Liza Minnelli – Losing My Mind
  • Eighth Wonder – I’m Not Scared
  • Animotion – Obsession
  • Trans-X – Living On Video 
  • Dazz Band – Let It All Blow 
  • Harold Faltermeyer – Axel F (From “Beverly Hills Cop” Soundtrack)
  • Art Of Noise – Close (To The Edit) 
  • Malcolm McLaren – Buffalo Gals 
  • Joe Jackson – Steppin’ Out

CD 3

  • ABBA – Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
  • Blondie – Atomic 
  • The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star
  • M – Pop Muzik
  • Paul Hardcastle – 19
  • Falco – Rock Me Amadeus (The American Edit)
  • Phil Lynott – Yellow Pearl (First 7″ Remix)
  • Kim Wilde – Kids In America
  • Altered Images – Don’t Talk To Me About Love
  • a-ha – Take On Me
  • Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder – Together In Electric Dreams
  • Howard Jones – New Song
  • Nik Kershaw – Wouldn’t It Be Good 
  • Limahl – Never Ending Story  
  • Thompson Twins – Love On Your Side
  • Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance
  • Kon Kan – I Beg Your Pardon (I Never Promised You A Rose Garden)
  • Peter Schilling – Major Tom (Coming Home)
  • Midge Ure – If I Was 
  • China Crisis – Christian
  • Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme (From “Miami Vice II” Soundtrack)

CD 4 

  • Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Performance Mix)
  • The Human League – Love Action (I Believe In Love)
  • Propaganda – Dr Mabuse
  • The Cure – The Walk 
  • Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart                    
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Messages
  • Our Daughter’s Wedding – Lawn Chairs
  • Iggy Pop – Nightclubbing
  • Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
  • Erasure – Drama!
  • Scritti Politti – Absolute
  • The Associates – Party Fears Two
  • Furniture – Brilliant Mind
  • Talk Talk – It’s My Life                               
  • Simple Minds – Glittering Prize 
  • Swans Way – Soul Train
  • The Passions – I’m In Love With A German Film Star
  • Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

 

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