02/08/79 THE SPECIAL A.K.A. – Gangsters (Top of the Pops)
Having been originally released four months previously, “Gangsters” is finally on the cusp of the Top 40 and The Specials make their major television debut on the UK’s premier pop show. It’s a risky, attacking formation with drummer Brad pushed up front alongside Jerry and his vox continental but the main action is at the back where Neville, Lynval, Horace and Roddy are putting a real shift in. Neville dons a chequered jacket and sales of black and white clothing on the high street would soon be going through the roof. When this appearance was repeated on Top of the Pops 2 many years later, we were treated to a double dose of Roddy’s guitar solo for an unusually extended version of the single.
30/08/79 THE SPECIAL A.K.A. – Gangsters (Top of the Pops)
Now in the safety of the Top Ten at no.6, The Specials revert to a standard (spoiler alert!) Fun-Boy-Three fronted line up. The septet are mostly sharp suited with the hyper Neville instead threatening to boil over in a crombie overcoat. Terry’s head spookily appears on a cymbal during the bridge section, making an escape just before it gets a beating from Brad’s stick. Top of the Pops was generally recorded on Wednesdays, the day before broadcast.
06/09/79 MADNESS – The Prince (Top of the Pops)
It’s a rapid return to Top of the Pops for 2 Tone with Madness’ ode to Prince Buster at no. 52 in the charts. Suggs and Bedders may only be 18 and the rest just as fresh faced but they deliver a really confident and original performance, typified by Chas and his dance stances. Host, Peter Powell gets some help with the band’s introduction from a skinhead from the audience who is proudly showing off his braces. Meanwhile, a leathered Cliff Richard banishes everyone from his stage area as he sings his chart topper towards the end of the show however Suggs’ suit can be spotted in the background before skulking off on realising it’s within camera range.
11/09/79 THE SPECIALS – Do the Dog (Countdown)
A short one minute clip of The Specials from the Rotterdam New Pop Festival featured on this Dutch music show; the first time the band were captured live for television and Terry wears a nice daring red suit for the occasion.
20/09/79 THE SPECIALS – Gangsters (TopPop)
It’s Holland’s equivalent of Top of the Pops and The Specials breakout from behind the drum kit amidst an over abundance of smoke. There’s no arguing with gun toting Neville who is taking pot shots at the camera before gunning down an unarmed Jerry at the end.
20/09/79 MADNESS – The Prince (Top of the Pops)
Now at no. 23 in the hit parade, Madness are back on Top of the Pops with this porky prime cut and it’s a somewhat similar performance to last time out although Lee’s saxophone has impressively grown from baby to baritone in just two weeks. Madness had already signed to Stiff Records at the beginning of September and they would hereafter charm their way into the charts for the next
seven years four decades.
02/10/79 THE SPECIALS – Stupid Marriage/Too Much Too Young/A Message To You Rudy (The Old Grey Whistle Test)
The court is in session for this live performance with Nev now appearing on the other side of the law as Judge Roughneck. It’s three tracks of similar mid-tempo so The Specials surprisingly don’t even get out of second gear in the sweating stakes. Terry announces that “Too Much Too Young” “should’ve been our next single but they wouldn’t play it on the radio” before they do later play what will be their next single, “A Message to You, Rudy”. For that one, Rico Rodriquez, Dick Cuthell and his walrus moustache join the fray and the trio would become honorary members of the Specials, appearing on most of their television appearances in the future.
It’s a chance to showcase another two tracks from their forthcoming debut album, this time closer to home in Birmingham for BBC youth program, Something Else. Again, The Specials are playing live in the studio and sounding absolutely superb. They are looking extra smart in their suits…hmmm, most of them anyway. Rockabilly Rebel Roddy and Horace must be refusing to wear suits and their bad influence spreads to Brad who loses his suit jacket for “Monkey Man”. All this mutiny takes place in front of a giant 2-Tone paper label backdrop and luckily not one of those boring silver (or rarer blue) plastic ones. Neville also contributes briefly to a discussion on youth fashion which gets somewhat monopolised by a pre-Boy George, George O’Dowd.
13/10/79 THE SELECTER – On My Radio (Multi-Coloured Swap Shop)
The Selecter take the baton for 2 Tone’s next release and follow suit in err, suits. The band had only played their first gig in July but it’s clear here that this was another band to be reckoned with, especially with the strong presence of Pauline Black at the helm. It’s a sprightly television debut on this Saturday morning programme which helped kids swap the likes of their Bukaroo or Sindy for an Action Man. Bands would usually mime to two tracks on this programme so it’s just possible The Selecter performed
“Too Much Pressure” another track as well. The performance of “On My Radio” was repeated on 5th May, 1980 on the Multi Coloured Music Show which featured selected musical appearances from the series.
13/10/79 THE SPECIALS – Gangsters (Rockpop)
Das Specials are in Germany, confronted on all sides by a zombie-like audience. So Jerry is forced to to amuse himself at one point by dancing in front of (and gently headbutting) the large mirror at the back of the stage before stomping his size nines over the play out. A special mention should go here to Brad for looking super cool in his aviators.
18/10/79 THE SELECTER – On My Radio (Top of the Pops)
TT4 is at no. 47 in the charts and The Selecter are sounding (well, it is also mimed) and looking identical to how they did on Swap Shop. Pauline Black is once again demonstrating some good bounce in her step on what would be the band’s one and only Top Ten hit. The 2 Tone Tour would get underway the day after this was broadcast and this particular performance would be repeated when there was a sort of 2 Tone takeover of Top of the Pops three weeks later.
23/10/79 THE SPECIALS – Monkey Man/Do the Dog/Concrete Jungle/Stupid Marriage/To Much Too Young/Gangsters (Follies)
This is like a short live concert in a studio setting on Belgian TV, recorded a week or two before the above broadcast date. The Specials had built a reputation for themselves as a captivating live dance act alas no one had warned the locals here, it seems. The crowd seem dumbfounded, only venturing to shake a leg during the last song. Not content with shooting Jerry last month in Holland, Neville is now beating him up on the stage during “Concrete Jungle”. “Too Much Too Young” has gathered pace since it’s Old Grey Whistle Test outing before hit single, “Gangsters” rounds things off with the sound man getting carried away with the delay knob on his mixing desk.
25/10/79 THE SPECIALS – A Message To You Rudy (Top of the Pops)
The 2 Tone Tour is underway and The Specials’ new single has again landed just one place short of the Top 40. Stage right, Roddy and Horace are again not wearing suits, all under the glare of Chief Dammers behind them. Rico fittingly takes the solo, having played on the original version of the song, released by Dandy Livingstone back in 1970. Many years on and into the next century, “A Message to You, Rudy” would achieve the accolade of the most overplayed track in 2 Tone’s chequered history, thanks to the dreaded might of adverts and tributing ska bands.
08/11/79 THE SPECIALS – A Message To You Rudy (Top of the Pops)
Yes, it’s that Two Tone takeover of Top of the Pops with The Specials, The Selecter and former stable mates, Madness all appearing on the show. The 2 Tone tour has stopped off in Cardiff so Madness take a helicopter ride to London whilst The Specials don’t do such luxuries and instead lump it onto the train to the BBC Studios. The Selecter meanwhile cheat by getting Top of the Pops to just repeat their previous performance although admittedly that does allow them to keep the Cardiff Top Rank mob at bay before the other two bands return. A bare chested, creepy looking host in a fez introduces The Specials, now at no. 19 in the charts. Terry, Barrister Staples and Lynval are to be found seated on some high stools and are all on lead vocals so Jerry fills in on guitar, with his organ remaining unopened to the side of the stage. The Selecter’s “On My Radio” was at it’s peak position of no. 9. in the charts whilst “One Step Beyond” from Madness was a brand new release but also Top Ten bound. Walt Jabsco in cardboard form makes a guest appearance next to Woody for Madness’ performance.
13/12/79 2 TONE – Report (ATV Today)
Tony Maycock reports on ‘The Coventry Sound’ for this regional magazine programme and catches The Selecter rhythm section at Horizon Studios as they record “Out on the Streets” for their debut album. This five minute piece also includes short interviews with Terry Hall and Pauline Black.
13/12/79 2 TONE – Report (Format V)
Another report by the ATV Network, broadcast on the same day as their ATV Today programme, looks at how major record companies are losing money due to the impact of smaller labels like 2 Tone. It follows the 2 Tone Tour to the Winter Gardens in Malvern on 30th November where we see The Selecter performing “Street Feeling” and “On My Radio”, interspersed with brief interviews with Pauline Black, Charley Anderson and Rick Rogers. This is possibly the only footage available of the 2 Tone tour which makes this programme a little bit (ok, very!) special.
13/12/79 THE BEAT – Tears of a Clown (Top of the Pops)
Six or seven piece band? Tick. Dual vocalists? Tick. Infectious off-beat dance rhythms? Tick. Incessant motion on stage? Tick. Sharply suited? Tick. From the Midlands? two ticks. Sign ’em up!! Latest recruits, The Beat, fit right into the 2 Tone stable although like Madness, they were never destined to remain on the label for long. ‘Twas not to be a life in monochrome for The Beat and David Steele hints at that here with his daring pink suit. Ranking Roger was still only 16 years old at the time and he understandably looks very, very happy indeed, having only been with the band a matter of months and now heading for the Top Ten. And as we all know, happiness can be contagious and Dave Wakeling can be spotted doing some excitable little leaps at the very end too.
16/12/79 THE SELECTER – On My Radio (TopPop)
It’s The Selecter’s turn to appear on this Dutch chart show and it seems that the single’s success has earned a new wardrobe for some members. Ms. Black is now wearing a white suit jacket which will serve her well for future TV appearances whilst ‘H’ has gone down the disco route with his shiny, blue shirt. Gaps and Charley have a fancy footwork dual during Desmond Brown’s solo which literally brings Mr. Brown to his knees.
00/12/79 THE SELECTER – On My Radio (TROS Top 50/Rock Planet)
19/12/79 THE SPECIALS – (Dawning of a) New Era/Monkey Man/Rat Race/Blank Expression/Rude Boys Outa Jail/It Doesn’t Make it Alright/Concrete Jungle/Too Much Too Young/Guns of Navarone/Nite Club/Gangsters/Longshot Kick De Bucket/Liquidator/Skinhead Moonstomp/Madness/You’re Wondering Now (Rock Goes to College)
This was probably the first chance for many of us young ‘uns in TV-land to experience The Specials in concert. This took place at Colchester Institute which has clearly been gatecrashed by hordes of skinheads, mods and rudies. Terry is at his snarling best during ‘Liquidator’, hurling his tambourine at a bouncer at the front who is just out of screen shot. Soon the stage is swamped for a mass moonstomp with Terry nearly getting nudged off so he makes a hasty retreat to safety at the back. The encore comes next with “Madness” and the return of the stage invasion, initiated by a very young skinhead (called Josh, apparently) smartly decked out in his three button suit. The end of the closing number, “You’re Wondering Now” got cut on the original broadcast but the repeat on BBC4 in 2011 featured the track in full with a bonus “Happy Christmas” and “Bon Voyage” from Terry at the end. The original broadcast went out on 21/01/80, earning repeats on 28/10/80 and 30/08/82.
28/12/79 THE SPECIALS – Monkey Man (Concert for the People of Kampuchea)
The Specials round off the year alongside The Who and The Pretenders for the third of four nights of concerts held at the Hammersmith Odeon to raise money for war-torn Cambodia. Only one track from The Specials appeared in the subsequent film which was directed by Keith McMillan. “It Doesn’t Make it Alright”, “Stupid Marriage” and “Too Much Too Young” were also considered for inclusion but unfortunately didn’t make the cut. For ‘Monkey Man’, a marketing-savvy Terry Hall models the limited edition V-neck jumper from his future 2008 Fred Perry collection but it’s a pepped up Neville who is (literally) in the spotlight, risking the wrath of health and safety as he climbs what looks like the rope used to work the stage curtains. He is still on the mic as he lands on some speakers before jumping off (eeks, mind those knees!) back on stage. This film was given limited cinematic release in the States and has been shown on TV in the UK, USA and beyond since.