The Specials: Encore review: Terry Hall tackles the state of the nation

From left: Lynval Golding, Terry Hall, Horace Panter
From left: Lynval Golding, Terry Hall, Horace Panter

Are The Specials still special? The much-loved ensemble return with Encore, their first album since reforming in 2008 and the first to feature frontman Terry Hall in 39 years. An interesting figure, Hall has always embodied a quality of depressive cool, every note in his voice embracing the bleakness of life with almost casual bitterness. In a recent interview, Hall revealed that at the age of 12 he had been abducted by a paedophile ring, taken to France, abused for four days and “then punched in the face and left on the roadside.” The shocking episode left him with depression, an illness that still dogs him at 59.

The revelation helps to make sense of the very particular tension he brought to...

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