24/01/83 THE HIGSONS – John Peel’s New Signature Tune/Touchdown (Whatever You Want)
Neither track appear on 2 Tone (just as well) however this appearance sits right between the band’s two single releases on the label so hence it’s inclusion here. Despite releasing the excellent “Run Me Down” the following month, The Higsons and 2 Tone never felt like the right fit for each other. Lead singer, Charlie Higson would of course go on to much greater things as an author, comedian and actor.
Click here to See: John Peel’s New Signature Tune/Touchdown (Whatever You Want) 24/01/83
29/04/83 THE APOLLINAIRES – Envy the Love/Ideal Couple (Switch)
This sneaks in here too as the 10 piece Apollinaires do perform the second single they’d released on 2 Tone although ties with the label were probably loose at this point. “Envy the Love” had been released the previous November but had followed their first single in sinking without a trace. The label’s foray into funkier sounds hadn’t worked with many feeling the bands were simply 2nd division by 2 Tone’s high standards. The likes of Bad Manners, The GoGos, UB40 and Prefab Sprout had all been linked with 2 Tone at various points and it seems like a couple of those bands would’ve been better signings.
Click here to see: Envy the Love/Ideal Couple (Switch) 29/04/83
26/08/83 THE SPECIAL AKA – The Lonely Crowd/Alcohol/Bright Lights (Switch)
After two years in stasis the new Special AKA arise, showcasing General Dammers’ new sound and vision. It’s basically a new band, fronted by Rhoda Dakar and relative newbie Stan Campbell whose soulful tones really stand out here. Stan did in fact rehearse with The Selecter soon after Pauline Black left and was her intended replacement however he ultimately turned down the offer. “Bright Lights” is introduced by Rhoda as the new single although the version they perform is altogether quite different, with a pumped up soul-style chorus and sped up second half. It may sound better however it is odd that they should choose to play a different version to that which they were just releasing. The other side of the AA single, “Racist Friend” doesn’t even get a look in. Nevertheless, it was exciting to see Jerry & Co back playing live and we all looked forward to err, future gigs.
Click here to see: The Lonely Crowd/Alcohol/Bright Lights (Switch) 26/08/83
00/00/83 THE SPECIAL AKA – Interview (The Saturday Show)
This appearance must be from late August or early September as their new single gets mentioned by presenter, David Rappaport who then quizzes Jerry on the break up of The Specials and the elusive new album. Rappaport also lets slip that Jerry’s new hobby is to make airfix models which has Jerry looking a tad embarrassed. Poor Stan Campbell fails to get a word in.
Click here to see: Interview (The Saturday Show) 00/00/83
09/03/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Nelson Mandela (The Tube)
Stan strikes as he wants more dosh so lead vocals are taken on by Afrodiziak, Rhoda and an impassioned Elvis Costello. General Public are also performing on the show that evening so the jump-suited former Beat Boys, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger help out on backing vocals. Dick Cuthell and Andy Aderinto are there playing that wonderfully moody horn line whilst Paul Speare joins them to play his flute. It’s a rousing live rendition of the track but behind the scenes, all was not well in the camp.
Click here to see: Nelson Mandela (The Tube) 09/03/84
29/03/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Nelson Mandela (Top of the Pops)
A fluorescent Afrodiziak glow as “Nelson Mandela” opens the show having entered the Top 30. Stan Campbell is back on lead vocals though after his demands were finally met. It’s the party era of Top of the Pops with some of the hired help in the audience wearing plastic bowler hats and plastic smiles as they wave things about. Like most of us at this point, they were probably oblivious as to who Nelson Mandela was but this peppy, upbeat tune would soon bring the jailed South African ANC leader into the public consciousness.
Click here to see: Nelson Mandela (Top of the Pops) 29/03/84
19/04/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Nelson Mandela (Top of the Pops)
It’s still party central at Top of the Pops and they’ve now added balloons to the occasion as the audience’s dancers and prancers in hellish 80s fashion howl and whoop throughout. The band seem to be enjoying themselves too though and it felt great at the time to see 2-Tone at no. 9 in the charts. Sadly this would be the final hit single for the label.
Click here to see: Nelson Mandela (Top of the Pops) 19/04/84
01/05/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Nelson Mandela (Formel Eins)
It’s the Special AKA’s one and only venture abroad and they end up behind bars! But it’s just a mock prison cell in a German studio, with some banal storeroom dummy soldiers holding guard. Only two thirds of Afrodiziak are imprisoned but Rhoda brings along a megaphone to ensure the vocals are heard loud and clear. It’s a lively performance with Jerry Dammers, Gary McManus and Paul Speare all happily bouncing around although sax man Andy Aderinto looks a bit shy on his feet. It all ends in a conga-styled finale with the band circling Stan Campbell who is also having to fill in on guitar for escapee, John Shipley, who had refused to travel. This was broadcast on the 19th of May.
Click here to see: Nelson Mandela (Formel Eins) 01/05/84
19/05/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Alcohol (Earsay)
Stan is gone for good which isn’t exactly ideal with the album finally about to come out. So step up Rhoda who…chooses to sit down. En route from the 2 Tone HQ cocktail lounge, the lads are looking very smart decked out in their black suits, white shirts, black bow ties and shades. John Shipley’s minor descending run opens this haunting tune with Dick Cuthell having a bit of fun with his mute. Musically it’s a very interesting track which would’ve benefited from a better vocal from a better vocalist.
Click here to see: Alcohol (Ear Say) 19/05/84
04/06/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Appearance (World in Action – South Africa’s Other Leader)
A newly bearded Jerry Dammers talks briefly to Granada’s current affairs programme at a rally organised by the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Hyde Park which opposed the invitation given by Margaret Thatcher to P W Botha to visit Britain.
Click here to see: Interview (World in Action) 04/06/84
08/06/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Feature (Eight Days a Week)
This shouldn’t really be included here as it doesn’t feature any non-video footage however it is an interesting eight minute piece on The Special AKA’s forthcoming album, “In The Studio”. Joining presenter, Robin Denselow in the BBC television studio to review the album are UB40’s Robin Campbell, journalist Mark Ellen and the
slappable punchable John Taylor from Duran Duran. The smug Taylor has nothing positive to say about it as you’d expect, labeling it “dated”, however Ellen has the final say calling it “incredibly exciting”.
09/06/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend (Ear Say)
This was recorded for Ear Say at the same time as the aforementioned “Alcohol” and features a chirpier Jerry Dammers taking on lead vocals. Rhoda meanwhile is left to tap away on congas with the camera catching her cracking a rare smile at one point. Andy is subbed for Annie Whitehead and her trombone for this one which begs the question…why did Rico never appear on any of their television appearances considering he played on the album?
18/09/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Videos/Rehearsal/Interviews (Play at Home)
The Special AKA are one of the six bands chosen by this Channel Four series to make a documentary about themselves and their home town. This was recorded many months earlier and what we get are some videos, interviews and most interestingly, rehearsal takes which include a work-in-progress “Nelson Mandela”. We finally get to hear Stan Campbell speak and he’s honest enough to admit that parties, money and life on the road were his primary reasons for joining the band. Perhaps there was the odd party in the end. The videos produced would later be included on “The Special AKA on Film” VHS release.
Click here to see: Videos/Rehearsal/Interviews (Play at Home) 18/09/84
30/09/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – Interview (Sky-Fi Music Show)
Andy Partridge of XTC takes over presenting duties of this primal Sky television music show, with some help from a robot called Spencer. And first up to be interviewed is Jerry Dammers who explains that he they chose “What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend” as the new single because Stan Campbell had left the band. A front cover design for “The Lonely Crowd” had been produced so it seems like that was originally earmarked to follow up “Nelson Mandela”. Jerry touches on some difficulties experienced with ‘In the Studio’ and its financial implications. “There’s a lot to be said for doing things quickly”, he has learnt…two years too late.
Click here to see: Interview (Sky-Fi Music Show) 30/09/84
12/10/84 THE SPECIAL AKA – What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend (Crackerjack)
This is a very similar appearance of “Girlfriend” to last time out. The band are looking suave once again and it looks like the stage hands have even borrowed the soft, coloured lighting from the Ear Say set. John Shipley is hiding again at the back next to some potted palm trees and as they all join the hosts on stage for the closing theme, he unsuccessfully attempts a cartwheel in err, the background. The Special AKA would shortly just fizzle out, without any official announcement of a break up.
Click here to see: What I Like Most About You is Your Girlfriend (Crackerjack) 12/10/84
27/10/84 Interview? (London Calling)
Coventry must have been briefly absorbed into one of the London boroughs during October 1985 as The Special AKA apparently featured on this ITV Central programme. I’ve just seen a listing for this somewhere and if it’s correct, it’s likely it was just an interview.