To celebrate the Thekla Isolation Discs Podcast reaching double figures this week, we’re releasing a very special bonus episode! Recorded back in December 2019, Chris spent some time in Coventry chatting with Horace Panter, the bass player in the legendary two tone act The Specials. Formed in the mid-70s, The Specials played an exciting new genre of music that fused together the energy of punk and the grooves of reggae. In this interview, Horace recounts the early days of the band, the exhausting tours and eventual breakup as well as his subsequent years playing with other groups, working as an art teacher, the exciting reformation of The Specials in the mid-noughties and the release of their sublime 2019 album Encore. Check it out here:
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The Specials were the fulcrum of the ska revival of the late ’70s, kick-starting the 2-Tone movement that spurred a ska-punk revolution lasting for decades. As influential as they were within the realm of ska, the group and its impact can’t be reduced to that genre alone. The Specials were one of the defining British bands of new wave, expanding the musical and political parameters of rock & roll. Protest was an integral part of the group, particularly their initial lead songwriter Jerry Dammers, who chronicled the tensions of the Margaret Thatcher era on such hit singles as “Ghost Town.” The Specials balanced these barbed messages with an inspired rallying call to party and impeccable sense of style embodied by Terry Hall, a lean, laconic singer who split vocal duties with the nore exuberant Neville Staple. Hall left the group in 1982, prompting the band to rebrand itself as the Special AKA — one of many lineup changes that sometimes coincide with alterations in the group’s name. The Specials split in 1984, and while Dammers never returned to the fold, Staple, Lynal Golding, Horace Panter, John Bradbury, and Roddy Radiation revived the Specials a number of times before Hall came back aboard in 2008, prompting a reunion that lasted for years.