Specialized - Blockbuster A Tribute To Glam Rock
Updated: Feb 13, 2021
Well... this was always going to be a bit different wasn't it. I can remember standing at The Big One 8 on the Sunday, I think we had all just enjoyed Lee Thompson's interview and showing of One Man's Madness when Paul said that the next project was going to be Glam themed. Glam? Glam... I mean... I like a bit of The Sweet and that but.. Glam? All the others have been largely ska / reggae related (The Beat, Boss, Madness - okay there was the Jam and The Clash but that kinda fits.) This means that bands would have to be extra, extra creative.
Zoom forward over a year later and well... COVID and all that. Very different times. As if organising bands all over the world to get together and record original covers and really make the songs their own... they then had to do it in isolation. As ever, the Pauls ask and the bands come.
Last Sunday Paul A sends me a bunch of files - if I have time to review some tunes for the blog - how could I refuse? So, downloaded, metadata processed, onto the iPod and a week listening on the car stereo (my favourite place to listen - awesome setup - 3 programmed EQ settings and each picks out different sounds) How else m I going to listen to 3 hours and 33 minutes from 58 artists?
So... on went disc 1 track 1. A slight mixture of wariness, fear and anticipation (I seriously love every other Specialized set and I didn't want the sequence ruined). Straight into Get It On by the supergroup The Spammed (Rat Scabies, Horace Panter, Kevin Elden) a pretty stock version of the T Rex classic. Okay, not too whacky, really good cover - I can cope with this. But... where's the ska?
Track 2... cool brass intro....here come de ska! Yep that's Life On Mars and a nice off beat version and then in comes the chorus! Bang on! Absolute corker of a blend of the glam big thumping beat, off beat guitar stabs and belting vocals. All of a sudden I am grinning and singing away at full volume on the A31 just outside Ferndown. THIS IS ACE! The band? Suspense Heroes Syndicate from Moscow. Fantastic - I'm sold.
We then weave through King Hammond's sleazy, stylish Rock On. This suits Nick's voice and style superbly (although I am surprised he didn't cover his hero Marc Bolan!) Mr Kingpin picks the pace up in his inimitable style, and straight into The Magnetics' sublime cover of Queen's Love of My life. Ollie's voice complements Freddie's superbly. That would have been a duet and a half! The Porkers represent Australia and then to The Inflatables who always do something a bit special. Great cover of Cuz I Love You with the supplement of a cracking Madness style piano in the mix. Now my favourite stock song from this album is Mr Blue Sky and you've gotta have pretty big balls to tackle this one! Germany's Wotka Travolta have those big balls! Super funked up, skanking version of the ELO standard. In the midst of all this stuff and a global pandemic Paul and Paul thought it would be a good idea to organise an online worldwide festival or two (well you would wouldn't you) and there were two absolutely outstanding perfomances from BDR friends Chango Munks and they have done a speaker melting version of Elton's Rocket Man. So goooooood. The first side closes with the slowed down, chilled tones of Heavensbee's version of Children of the Revolution.
Of course - they have front loaded the 4 CD set with all the best songs. Wait... no they haven't! Disc 2 is also ace! Straight into Special Brew's Space Odditty - a stunning version laced with ska rhythms without distracting from Bowie's structure. How cool for the next tune - Gorgeous Whisky - I'm guessing this is Rob George and Jenny Whiskey playing Ride a White Swan. Next up The Passenger - cracking Iggy Pop song that I love. I did not expect Ska Beat City's version. Damned skankable but retaining the dirty feel of the original. Little confession - I can't stand the Bay City Rollers. So when I saw it was Shang-A-Lang next I almost hit the skip button but Scotland's Skaledonia made it more than listenable - it's great. Many of these tunes have been made re-famous due to the sound track from Guardian's of the Galaxy and none more so than Fox on the Run covered by Denmark's Napoleon Solo. Totally made it their own. Hub City Stompers are always great to hear and so cool to hear Jenny. Whiskey singing Wild One. The guys from HCS have leant their musical talents to help many pf the bands complete their recordings. Big up Rev Sinister and the crew. More ELO from the ska punkers Epic18 and it's a belter of a track. Finally great to get a touch of The Sunny Coast Rude Boys and a spot on version of Clap Your Hands, Good job lads.
We're only halfway deep! And it doesn't relent... just look at the first 4 artists! New Lion Ska, The Skapones, Rude Boy George, Erin Bardwell Collective modern reggae/ska kings one and all. We have already waxed lyrical about the Skapones track (https://www.buttondownradio.com/post/ska-line-round-up-of-the-ska-scene-news-7th-february-2020) but Rude Boy George was born to do this stuff - again we are treated to the vocal talents of Jenny Whiskey - we are truly spoiled. Always great to hear Adam's voice and the reggae stylings of Captain Accident and the Disasters with a paired down Bowie Cover. The skanking fever turns it up a notch with Dorset's finest The Decatonics and a slightly different styling for Sallys ace vocals. This is followed by BDR regulars Big Fat Panda's brilliant Slade cover.
Now there is always something about the last CD of any Specialized compilation and this is no exception. We delve into the unusual and it always throws up a treat. This time: Chuzz from Cartoon Violence with his Roxy Music cover and that 80s sound is flawless. I've always known Woman Uniform as an Iron Maiden song so was surprised to hear an almost facsimile version by Blue Ruin. Unbeknownst to yours truly, the original was a track by glam troupe Skyhooks! This is a belter of a glam metal track by Jeepster. The other track that is a belter of a skanker is Ten Bob Notes cover of Abba's Mama Mia. A guaranteed floor filler.
This compendium is a true labour love, determination, perseverance and love. Physical copies are still to arrive and will be a blessing to every household that is lucky enough to get one. There are still a few left available from https://specializedproject.com/product/blockbuster-a-tribute-to-glam-rock-preorder/
In buying this you support The Specialized Project and Teenage Cancer Trust. A triumphant collection which stood up to so many challenges and such a feel good set. Well done Paul and crew.. can't wait for Viva!
King Hammond The Spammed Suspense Heroes Syndicate The Magnetics The Porkers The Inflatables Wotka Travolta Chango Munks Heavensbee Special Brew Ska Beat City Napoleon Solo Hub City Stompers Epic 18 Sunny Coast Rude Boys New Lion Ska The Skapones Rude Boy George Erin Bardwell Collective Rude Boy George Captain Accident and the Disasters The Decatonics Big Fat Panda Cartoon Violence
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all photos from Specialized Project Artwork by Yorkie